Jun
26

Does Popular Equal Mean

Posted in Bullying
by Alicia Castelli

We put up a post from “Deep South Moms Blog” on Tuesday by a mother worrying that her popular daughter would grow into a mean girl.  I was really intrigued by this post.  I’m willing to overlook the woman’s attempt to shift the blame for her own childhood behavior onto her “sidekick” because she obviously learned from her mistakes and changed her spots.

This is a topic I’ve thought about as my children enter school.  Bullying.  Boys tend to be very upfront and physical in their bullying while girls tend to be quietly cruel.  Girls start rumors, do the whisper-look-laugh thing and pass around lists.  “If you hate so-and-so sign here.” 

I’d say the best way to teach your kids to be kind is to talk to them about your expectations for their behavior toward others, but don’t overlook the obvious “actions speak louder than words” adage.  Do you and your spouse or friends make fun of others you know or see on TV or read about in the paper?  Kids hear so much more than we realize and they internalize that behavior.  Often they mimic it.

Teach by example.  Always be kind.  Immediately put a stop to cruel behavior you see in your children or hear about from teachers.  I’ve been on the receiving end of teasing and bullying and I’m ashamed to admit I’ve also been on the giving end a few times.  I was not one of the popluar girls, but there’s always someone lower on the pecking order isn’t there?  Thankfully most of this behavior peters out in high school and virtually disappears in college.  The scars to those who were bullied, however, can last a lifetime. 

My oldest son is very bright and wears glasses and has already been the target of bullying.  He tends to be very intense and wants to immediately connect with and make friends with whomever he meets.  He is also bossy and believes he knows the best way to do most things.  This can be disconcerting (and annoying) to other kids.  My middle child, also very bright, seems to be well liked by everyone because he is so laid back, sweet, and basically does whatever the other kids want to do.  It will be interesting to see how their different personalities play out in a school setting.  My own younger sister was very popular in school, but ironically suffered bullying from within her own clique.

I also remember that the kids who got into the most trouble with drugs and alcohol, and had the hardest time adjusting to college life where no one cares who you were in high school, were the kids who had been very popular.  For everything there is a price, I suppose. 

The fact is that we have very little control over how our kids treat other kids when we’re not around.  All we can do is tell them what we expect, lead by example and hope for the best.  But here’s a question for all the parents out there – What would you do if you were told by the school that your child had been caught bullying another child?

 

  1. Amy@UWM Said,

    These are helpful tips. As author of the post you reference, I have to respectfully disagree that I tried to shift blame on my sidekick or take responsibility for my bad behavior. If you go back and read the post, I devote an entire paragraph to how much I regretted my actions and would change them if given the chance. The only way I was able to forgive myself was because the girl I was friends with decided to forgive me and be my friend and I have been blessed with her friendship ever since.

    The reason I mentioned the sidekick in the post is because kids usually are not mean on their own. It’s usually a group dynamic that leads to multiple kids — more than one at least — ganging up on another. If my daughter was left to her own devices, I wouldn’t ever worry about her being mean. But she can be easily influenced by others and that’s what makes me worry.

  2. Anonymous Said,

    I DON’T THINK IF YOU ARE POLULAR YOU HAVE TO BE MEAN. I THINK
    IT IS IN ALL HOW YOU RAISE YOUR CHILDREN.
    IF YOU ARE MEAN AND CRUEL THEN THE CHILDREN LEARN AT A VERY EARLY AGE TO BE JUST LIKE YOU. BUT IF YOU ARE KIND AND CONSIDERATE OF OTHERS AND THEY SEE THIS THEY MIMMICK
    YOUR BEHAVIOR.
    I AM A VERY KIND AND CONSIDERATE PERSON AND I HAVE RAISED MY CHILDREN TO BE THE SAME. MY SON IS 18, POPULAR AND VERY WELL
    LIKED BY ALL. HE DOES NOT HAVE A MEAN BONE IN HIS BODY. HE LEARNED BY WATCHING ME. MY DAUGHTER IS 7 AND SHE IS THE SAME
    POPULAR AND SHE IS ALSO VERY KIND AND LOVING.
    SOME PARENTS MAKE THEIR KIDS NASTY AND CRUEL BECAUSE OF THEIR UPBRINGING. IT IS A SHAME, CAUSE THEIR KIDS ARE GOING TO MISS OUT ON ALOT OF FUN AND FRIENDS DUE TO THEIR PERSONALITIES AND THEIR PARENTS. IT ALWAYS STARTS WITH THE PARENTS!!!!

Add A Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment. User agreement and discussion guidelines.