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Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me Mean Girls Drama Starts in Preschool?

Photograph by Twenty20

My daughter is four years old. She’s as sweet as can be and lives to encourage others and make people laugh. I can’t imagine her ever intentionally being mean or rude to anyone. That’s why I was surprised when she came home one day telling me all about the “mean girls” drama she had experienced at preschool.

Apparently Rosy no longer wanted to be friends with Emma. On the playground Emma decided to form an alliance with Julie against Rosy. So Rosy turned Michelle against Emma and Julie. By lunch time all the cliques had formed.

Drama!

I kind of dismissed it all and continued with my household chores. I was just glad my daughter wasn’t involved. Except by the next day she was all up in the mix. She came home declaring she no longer was best friends with Rosy. She would now be best friends with Emma instead. I shut that down as soon as the words escaped her lips.

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“We are all friends and it’s not nice to exclude anyone,” I told her, “How would it make you feel if someone didn’t want to be your friend anymore?”

It makes me sad that girls in preschool are already exhibiting signs of cattiness. Growing up, I had a hard time trusting other girls because it seemed like alliances were always changing and everyone was getting offended about everything. Jealousy and gossip were rampant. I wasn’t innocent, either. It’s easy to get swept up in all the drama. It’s almost exciting, until you’re the one getting hurt, then it’s not so fun anymore.

Sometimes mean girls are just hurting on the inside and lashing out in ways that hurt others.

Now that I’m older, I realize how ridiculous it all is. Women should support each other and lift each other up. We are all a part of a sisterhood and should treat each other with common decency and respect. I want my daughter to learn these lessons now to save herself a lot of heartache and unnecessary fighting in the future.

It’s difficult to know what to do in this situation. I don’t want my daughter to be a doormat, allowing others to treat her badly. I also don’t want her aligning herself with “mean girls,” or picking on anyone. But then again, I don’t want her dismissing the mean girls, because sometimes mean girls just need someone to show them how to be a true friend. Sometimes mean girls are just hurting on the inside and lashing out in ways that hurt others.

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All I can do is encourage my daughter to be kind and loyal. When my daughter is at home I'll do my best to give her the tools to problem solve on her own. I'll teach her the art of compromise and how to apologize when you’ve been wrong or hurt someone. I'll teach her that we don’t throw away friendships when they get hard, but we do what we can to repair them.

It’s a lot for a four-year-old to absorb. I imagine she and her friends will make many mistakes along the way, but hopefully they'll grow and learn from their mistakes. Hopefully they'll realize the power and joy that can come from having strong female friendships and see that the world is a better place when you choose to go high.

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