The social dynamics of girls has been the subject of many movies and books and we’re all familiar with the concept of mean girls and Queen Bees. The mean girl habits can start much earlier than we think, even before middle school, but there are ways to help young girls, and young women, learn how to support one another.
Why Do Girls Bully?
Too often girls are taught to see other girls as competition. A survey by Plan International USA showed that 30% of teenage girls felt they had fewer opportunities at school than boys do, particularly when it comes to sports and leadership opportunities. That means that girls may conclude that losing one chance to another girl means they’ll never get another one. It’s been communicated to women over the years that there are fewer spots for women.
Oftentimes, girls who bully are feeling insecure. They lack confidence in their own skills or status, so they put down their peers in order to make themselves feel better. This bullying usually happens on a psychological level. They use fear, intimidation, or humiliation to gain emotional power. And social media makes it easier than ever to access their target. Girls who are being bullied may not want to admit that there is a problem. But there can be psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression, and physical symptoms, such as stomach aches or claims of feeling sick when it’s time to attend school.
Encouraging Other Women
The most important thing we can do is to be aware of some of the reasons girls bully each other and then teach our girls how not to be a bully. We can teach our girls to be confident enough to raise each other up instead of tearing each other down. Research from the Harvard Business Review finds that while both men and women benefit from having a network of well-connected peers across different groups, women who also have an inner circle of close female contacts are more likely to land executive positions with greater authority and higher pay. This shows that there are real world benefits to women coming together to support each other.
Below are a three ways women can lift each other up:
- Be Aware of Your Words: When you start a new job, the quickest way to create relationships is to commiserate with your co-workers. Sometimes that can be complaining about the work day, and other times it is engaging in workplace gossip. Gossip is designed to bring others down and while it may be easy to feel like you’re bonding by excluding others, that is not a real relationship. Instead of engaging in gossip, try shifting the conversation to more positive things.
- Build Others Up: One of the most powerful things you can do is offer words of affirmation. Complimenting other women on their skills or the job they’re doing goes a long way in building relationships, but it is also important to speak well of others, even if they’re not in the room. If you’ve worked on a group project and one of your classmates really went above and beyond, let the professor know how hard she worked.
- Stay Accountable: We all feel insecure sometimes and fall prey to jealousy. It’s easy to think: “Well, if she got that promotion then there’s no job left for me.” But the reality is, there will be other opportunities. This is not the only one. When you feel that jealousy taking place, you can acknowledge that it’s happening, and practice feeling happy for your peer. As you practice feeling happy for others, it will begin to become a habit. Those feelings of jealousy will start to fade because it feels so much better to be happy for someone than jealous of them.
Journey Home Can Help
Journey Home is the perfect fit for young women who are ready to build upon skills learned in therapeutic settings but recognize they still need guidance and support to further develop their success. Journey Home blends a traditional home setting with positive peer and staff relationships. At Journey Home we believe in the value of good health and healthy hobbies, two crucial aspects of happy, successful adults. For more information please call (828) 469-0716.