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How should I handle mean behavior?

My 10 yr. old daughter wrote a note to a "former friend" saying she doesn't want to be friends and listed 3 reasons why. Then, the "former friend" has now written 2 retaliatory letters which have now escalated the situation to groups of friends against each other and lead to a visit to the vice principal's office. I have told my daughter not to retaliate in any way and that she is the cause of this problem. I can't undue what she did and wish she would have spoken to me before doing this but now I am faced with how to help her correct the situation. So far she has been unwilling to apologize and I've tried the usual - how would you feel if someone did this to you? My husband is suggesting that we "punish" her to show her responsibility for her action. I don't think punishing is the answer but want her to know that she can't treat people like this. Normally she is a VERY compassionate child so this is unlike her.


Asked by Anonymous at 10:55 AM on Jan. 17, 2009 in Tweens (9-12)

This question is closed.
Answers (7)
  • Man...there's stuff like this going on in my 10yr. old dd's class all the time. I've been to the school twice this year over it. And like you, I have the kid that was always sweet and compassionate. Once she was the instigator, once she was on the receiving end. Then there's all the little stuff that doesn't get to the point of faculty involvement. Somebody is always having an issue with another classmate. It's normal. It's not good, but it's normal. They're trying to feel their way through socializing and friendship. It's tricky. Sometimes they make good decisions. Sometimes they make bad ones. Both experiences are going to be the foundation for future interactions and future choices.

    Keep talking to her about it. Help her understand why it was a bad choice. Then she'll know how to make better choices when she's in that situation again.

    Answer by desert_diva at 11:13 AM on Jan. 17, 2009

  • wow, something like this happened to ME when i was in middle school. my whole class ganged up on me! anyway, i would make her talk about it. you need to make her realize that shes a young adult and adults dont write latters like that, they talk to eachother. your right in telling her not to retaliate again, but maybe you should talk to the parents and have your daughter go to the house and apologize for the behaviour. you dont have to tell them to like eachother, maybe they really dont but the way they handled it was wrong, onboth ends. (this is what the parents of MY classmates by one they came to my house and apologized.) talk to the the VP at the school and let them know the situation, and def talk to the parents.

    Answer by soldiermom1986 at 10:59 AM on Jan. 17, 2009

  • First of all she is not a young adult, she is still a child, more a tween. I personally think you should leave it alone. Kids do this . Unless she threatened someone, then thats a whole different story.They are 10 . If its gotten to the point where school is involved, what was so bad that the school had to get involved in the first place. This is 4th or 5th grade, right?

    Answer by Kat122 at 11:08 AM on Jan. 17, 2009

  • the more you fuel the fire the longer it will burn. Just leave it alone and let things die down. Once that happens perhaps she'll be more receptive to your ideas of an apology. It's blown so out of proportion that I doubt if she understands what part she has to apologize for.

    Answer by admckenzie at 7:21 PM on Jan. 17, 2009

  • I see mean behavior left and right, all ages, it may be the general area I live in. Most times I ignore it or joke around it e.g. if it is directed to me I say "is this your new hobby? picking on an old lady?" least here, it is cultural, the people are pretty wealthy and they LOVE being competitive and cut throat...obviously I don't and my son is not into it try what we tried and all the sounds like it is a passing phase with most of you and that is good....

    Answer by DanaWar at 11:53 AM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • Well, did you read the letter? Do you know what she said? If the letter wasn't mean and she was trying to tell the girl to leave her alone and the girl got huffy, then I would stay out of it unless the situation becomes dangerous to your daughter. There are lots of good reasons to not want to be friends with someone, and people can try to be polite, but if the person they are being "polite" to is being deliberately obtuse, sometimes direct action is needed. I mean, if she said "I don't want to be your friend because you are ugly and you smell horrible" that would be one thing-but if she told her "i don't want to be your friend because you are rude, mean to me and i don't like the things you do/language you use" that's another. In any case, I think that the way this thing has blown up to a trip to the VP's office is likely as much a punishmanet and a lesson in juvenile diplomacy as she will really need.

    Answer by TempestRayne at 2:24 PM on Jan. 18, 2009

  • I have been a teacher for a LONG time, and girls seem to be worse than boys at writing notes to or about each other. (Boys would rather fight it out, usually!) I'm afraid they have only just begun. I can remember jr. high being horrible for me because of some really "mean girls" in my class. Make sure that her self-esteem is not being harmed, and keep the lines of communication open. If she needs to see the school counselor, that is perfectly OK. The counselor can help her with coping techniques. If it becomes unbearable, sit down with the other girl's parents and calmly discuss it. The counselor will be able to help with this. Good luck!

    Answer by mkmomtracy at 4:25 PM on Jan. 18, 2009