Some kids stay on the outskirts of the group. Just observing at big gatherings I have noticed some girls, just hang on the outskirts no matter what, that's where they stay. Wanting to be pulled in, but when kids try to pull them in they stay on the outskirts. Does this mean the other girls are all the mean girls? The clique?
I have read some blog posts in the recent years about "mean girls" and one in particular focused on the excuses some mom's will make for their daughter's behavior. The author goes on to give a list so you can check to see if your daughter might be a "mean girl" and also see if you are the "mean mom" making excuses for your daughter.
Let me be clear, I know mean girls exist.
Not only was I one myself growing up and am determined my girls will not be mean girls but I have dealt with this as a mom. I have 3 daughters, believe me when I say, I have dealt with mean girls and mean moms. Sometimes gracefully sometimes not. Still, I have another point of view.
In an effort to really help our tweens and teens, my point of view is pay attention. Every child and every situation is different. There is no blanket formula, no one stop shop with all the answers for every child in every situation. Yes there are mean girls and bullies out there - and that is a huge and very real problem. But in the midst of focusing on that problem I believe some kids are getting lost in the shuffle while silently crying out for help.
Stop. Look. Listen.
Is your daughter disconnecting herself? Is your daughter making the other girls beg her to join in over and over? These "mean girl" blog posts while drawing attention to and offering help for a very real problem also cause a mom like me to hesitate when wanting to speak up to my friends when I see their daughters separating themselves and then crying "I am always left out".
This is a cry for help!
In my area of the world, we live in a great community and my girls have a large group of friends and acquaintances. We have lots of parties and social gatherings. Sometimes with the moms around and other times just the kids, when I am around I often observe (without helipcoptering I hope - that’s a discussion for another day) and have clearly seen kids keeping themselves on the outskirts.
At times it has been one of my own daughters keeping herself distanced from the fun. I will actually watch the kids at the party go over to the out-skirter and try to pull them in and get them involved. I have talked with my girls before, during or after these events about making sure everyone is joining in and paying attention to those who look lonely or not confident to join in so they can reach out to them.
BUT I don't think it’s healthy for kids to have to beg and plead for the outskirters to join in nor do I think the kids at the parties/gatherings should feel guilty if someone chooses not to join in. Just as it’s important for us, as parents, to teach our children to be thoughtful and kind, to make sure everyone is included and to avoid being cliquish I think it’s important for us to teach our children to participate and join in!
Teach them to be confident enough to have conversations and initiate interaction with others.