Polk Moms

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My daughter had a very hard school year. There are really mean, rude and crude girls in middle school. We went to the office several times and saw little done to improve the situation. How's the best way to handle my 13-year-old daughter's strange friends and threatening non-friends?

Tell your daughter that those girls can only have the power that she and others allow them to have. If they feel that they are intimidating her, they will continue to do so. It sounds like they are either jealous or insecure or maybe both. Encourage her to be herself and allow no one to squash her talents or creativity. If she can ignore them, sooner or later they'll leave her alone. - Amanda T. in Minneapolis, MN

FROM JODIE:

Middle school is certainly a big change from elementary school. One of the reasons being usually several grade schools feed into one middle school so there's a lot of kids that may not know each other. Along with that are the kids that have already been there for a year or two who have pretty much set the tone for their influence over others and/or established cliques. Although there are many reasons why kids take on the role of a bully, it sometimes seems to be that girls can be especially hard on other girls. It's hard to say, but these exact ones that are giving your daughter a hard time may have very well been bullied when they were new. Now that those bullies have moved on to high school, the new ones have kind of taken over the role. I know this is not very comforting, but it is something to keep in mind, especially when speaking to the counselor. The fact of the matter is that for whatever reason, their self-esteem is based on putting down others to make themselves feel good. If it happens again this school year, I'd ask for their parents to meet with you and the counselor at the same time in the same room. It's about the only way you can actually get a handle on the situation. It may not go away any time soon so just keep requesting meetings. Try to encourage your daughter to make lots of friends, weird or not. (I'm assuming that you see them as “weird” because they're not the usual ones you're used to her being around.) Aside from there always being safety in numbers, the reason for lots of friends is that it's safer for her to be surrounded by people who like her for who she is as opposed to being by herself and made to think she's a loser. Be sure to listen to her and maybe even roleplay with her to help her come up with some tactics that work. Maybe even some you used when you were perhaps going through something similar around her age.

CAN YOU HELP?

Our 16-year-old daughter is making herself pretty good money for babysitting this summer. We have a couple of younger kids who are too young to be hired anywhere but are dying to make money like their big sister. Do you have any ideas for things kids aged nine and eleven can do to make a little spending money?

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