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Parenting comes with more than its share of worries. When it comes to raising girls, parents say one of their single biggest concerns is "the whole mean girl thing," according to Patti Kelley Criswell, an author and therapist based in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
"With girls, people don't often use the term 'bullying,' but that's what the mean-girl stuff is about," Criswell explains. "Anytime someone is trying to take away your power, that's bullying."
Take heart. There's a lot you can do protect your daughter. Criswell, who specializes in pre-adolescent girls' issues, offers these tips to boost your daughter's daily diet of confidence and build her bully immune system.
1. Be proactive
The most effective time to deal with bullying is before it even starts. Right around first grade, says Criswell, is when you should begin to focus on teaching your daughter about empathy. Point out how and why bossiness can hurt people. This way when mean-girl tactics start to heat up, your girl is better able to cope.
2. Mind her media
We live in a culture in which sniping and humiliation - think so-called reality shows and popular sitcoms - pass as entertainment. A show like American Idol, for example, may seem like harmless fun, but it is bullying in its truest form. You can't control everything she receives but you can filter the media in your own home. Make sure books, videos, music and other media she consumer reflect your values.
3. Get game
Sports are a great way to work out aggression and build pride. She needn't compete to Olympic standards. What matters most is that your daughter has a game, activity or hobby that she really enjoys and can excel in.