Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Little Girls Can Be Mean: Four Steps to Bully-proof Girls in the Early Grades

Bullying Happens

Bullying happens.  It's happening at younger ages than ever and it's time for us to not only take notice and "do something about it", but to do something that is meaningful and promotes change.  There are many anti-bullying programs on the market, but few address the issues of relational aggression.  Even fewer address these concepts as they relate to young children.

Girls Have Unique Social Struggles 

Thanks to Drs. Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert, parents and educators can now be armed with a compass of sorts, that will help them navigate some of these uncharted waters of the unique social struggles that face elementary-aged girls.  In their book, "Little Girls Can Be Mean: Four Steps to Bully-Proof Girls in the Elementary Grades", they lay out a 4-step process that offers meaningful support. 

Dr. Michelle Anthony and her children.
The authors make an important point: "All children are capable of cruel acts: often as part of a group experience, sometimes on their own initiative."  They further explain the natural developmental context in which our need to "fit in" exists, and help familiarize the reader with the underpinnings of relational aggression.  Drs. Anthony and Lindert provide special guidance in a chapter of its own, to help support and help girls when they are dishing out a dose of "mean". Special activities and ideas can help tip the scales towards more compassion and understanding.

Dr. Reyna Lindert and her children.

Relational Aggression Defined

By defintion, some of the unique relational issues that girls face are:

Cruel Words
The Silent Treatment
Rumor Spreading

The Toll of Relational Aggression

These experiences can result in emotional reactions such as depression, anxiety and more, which can take a huge toll on self-esteem.  Physical manifestations such as headaches and stomachaches occur, and relational aggression even has an academic impact.  This can be true for both the victim and the perpetrator of the cruel acts.

This book struck several chords with me, but one that sent shivers down my spine was this: "It's one thing to prepare yourself against the backstreet bully, but what do you do when your bully is your best friend?" This point is so very cogent to me, as many of the young girls that seek support in my office are doing so because of this very thing! 

We provide kids with training on fire safety, personal safety and even have bulletins that come home from the school about trick-or-treating safety, yet what have we done to prepare kids for relational aggression?  Very little. 

The Shifting Tide

No longer can we sweep relational aggression aside and say, "Just ignore her.  You'll be friends again by next week."  Knowledge is power, and with "Little Girls Can Be Mean", real support and assistance can be offered to our young girls. 

The Earlier the Better

Much can be done to assist girls in having healthier relationships with each other, long before they embark upon the rocky road of middle school.  "Little Girls Can Be Mean" provides the tools.  This book is the missing puzzle piece in helping our girls deal with social skills issues before problems therein reach critical mass.
What I adore about this book, aside from all of the aforementioned, is that it also provides the reader with an "Activity Bank".  The activities are hands-on experiences that you can share with young girls to really help drive home what's important when it comes to treating others with civility, kindness and compassion. 

Welcome aboard to the Kidlutions Preferred Product Award family, Drs. Anthony and Lindert!  "Little Girls Can Be Mean" is a not to be missed book!


  1. I think this book is a God-send and so right on! Thanks for reminding me to post on it, I've been meaning to.

  2. Sounds like an excellent book and one that I should read and share.


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