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4 Ways To Squash Mean Girl Tendencies In Your Daughter

girl looking back uncertainly at other two girls who are giggling

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

My daughter’s a natural leader. She’s charming and charismatic, and at just 3 years old, she’s already collected a little posse around her. Right now, she’s sweet and innocent, but as I watch her, I can’t help but wonder: Is this the beginning of a mean girl? What are the telltale signs your daughter is a mean girl?

She has so many of the characteristics of your typical “mean girl”but with none of the actual meanness. How can I be sure she’ll grow up to have empathy, humility, and kindness rather than being controlling, manipulative, and arrogant? If you have a daughter and you want her to stay away from these tendencies, too, try these 4 tips to avoid creating a “mean girl.â€

1. Tell her about her inner worth and dignity.

I absolutely love the movie The Help. In it, the nanny tells her little charge the same thing every day: “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”It’s just such a beautiful sentiment. I believe my daughter’s important because she’s a beloved child of God and I believe she didn’t have to earn that position. God made her that way. My daughter’s inner worth and dignity don’t come from outside herself. Nothing she can do will make her more or less important in the eyes of God.

That’s an incredibly freeing idea. I regularly remind my daughter that nothing will ever make me (or God) love her any less, and that’s something every girl needs to hear. A girl who knows she is loved unconditionally will find it easier to love others.

2. Help your daughter to recognize other people’s feelings.

I was recently at the library and witnessed a sad exchange between two girls who clearly knew one another. The first girl called the second her “friend,”but the second girl responded with, “I already have a best friend. I don’t need any more friends.”The mean girl didn’t seem to understand why the other child cried, and the mother did nothing to help her daughter see the pain her comment had caused. In fact, the woman thought her daughter was right in limiting the number of friends she had.

Toddlers and preschoolers aren’t naturally attuned to other people’s feelings, but it’s important that we as parents draw our children out of themselves so they can better empathize with others. This includes teaching our children to celebrate when others are happy, to offer comfort when others are sad, and to apologize when they’ve hurt someone. A girl who can recognize emotions in others will be more likely to speak kindly and consider the repercussions of her actions.

3. Watch your own attitude when discussing other people, especially women.

I’ve been shocked to come face to face with a mini version of myself in my daughter. She doesn’t just look like me–she acts like me too. Be aware of the way you talk about other women–and about yourself. If you compare yourself to other women, you can almost guarantee your daughter will do the same. Instead, commit to speaking positively, and when considering other women’s character flaws, keep your discussion fact-based.

A girl who knows the difference between facts and opinions will be able to avoid tearing down other girls because of unhealthy comparisons, while also appreciating the traits that set her apart and make her unique.

4. Encourage her father to regularly compliment her. 

My daughter often looks to me to see what I consider “beautiful,”copying my outfits and hair so we match. But I’m not the one she comes to asking, “Don’t I look beautiful?”That’s her dad. In my years working with teens, I’ve noticed that many mean girls are the product of mean mothers and inattentive fathers. These girls often have mothers who encourage them to behave meanly, and they have fathers who generally just ignore them altogether.

A mother holds a lot of sway over her daughter, but so do fathers. Make sure your husband regularly compliments your daughter–both her outward appearance and her inner character. A girl who knows that her daddy really sees her generally won’t feel a need to act out and attract attention.

Have you seen signs your daughter is a mean girl? What are some ways you can affirm her inner worth and dignity?

This article originally appeared on iMOM.com and reflects their mission and beliefs.

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