Is Mean Girls Syndrome an official term? I thought I just made it up, but no, it is a real term. All of us has seen or been a victim of this. Another term for this behavior is Relational Aggression (RA).
One day I was walking my dog and met with one of my neighbors. She joined us. In our conversation, she told me of a situation that had occurred to her at the local community center pool that day. There is a lap pool there and she had completed her laps, emerged from the pool and couldn’t find her towel on the bench where she had left it folded. There were two gym-owned towels there, so she picked one up to wipe her face, thinking she would just go into the locker room and replace it.
A woman came up behind her. “What do you think you are doing?” she said. My neighbor said, ” I couldn’t find my towel so I used this one.”
“Yours is on the floor. There!” Behind the slatted bench and on the floor was another gym-owned towel.
My neighbor was embarrassed, flabbergasted, and hurt that this would occur. She couldn’t imagine how she was going to go back there, thinking she should change her schedule to avoid encountering this woman and the two friends who had accompanied her. She wanted to quit the Community Center but, of course, it costs too much and didn’t know if there was a cancellation policy.
As you know, I am a teacher. I had a class that most of the year I was really confused by its dynamics. One girl asked to be on independent study because “she couldn’t be in the class with certain individuals.” She was in distress about it but would not name the students who caused her this anxiety. I put her on independent study with the assistance of her counselor. Another girl asked to sit up by my desk to avoid certain people. Again, she would not name who the certain people were.
In an English class, I have young people work in groups. Boy, was this a hard call. I chose to always have the kids choose groups and watched who would choose whom. Many times students would choose to work solo, which I had to make as another option.
Now I had some boisterous boys in the class. I grew to believe they were the cause of the problem due to their jokes and sometime hurtful comments. I would sit them down periodically when they went too far.
Near the end of the year, I overheard two girls in the class making fun of another girl’s laugh. I finally got it. The girl who was talking was on the cheer squad with this other girl. The two in my class was part of a larger clique of popular girls and guys. They had all been together since middle school.
Since I met with the young woman on independent study every day alone, I asked her if they were the kids she was wanting to avoid. Her eyes welled up with tears and said, “Yes.”
At any age, whether you have a daughter in school, you meet this situation in a social situation, or at work, this is a hard and somewhat emotionally tough situation.
For the moms, this is heartwrenching. You have found out. Your daughter is telling you not to do anything because it will make matters worse. Ah no. I found 12 Strategies That Will End Female Bullying girl wars by Cheryl Dellasega, Ph.D. and Charisse Nixon, Ph.D. to help guide me as a teacher.I’ll write some more about this and offer more information, but this is getting rather long.
For us older ladies, I will do the same; however, please note: you are not alone. We might want to blame the current environment of politics and news media. But surprise, a fascinating article in the August, 2016 Forbes.com doesn’t prove it either way. It claims 75% of the current workforce is affected by bullying. I will add more in an additional blog. In the meantime, please add advice or suggestions.