When Adolescents Are Mean

For better or worse, dealing with a bully or a mean group of kids is often a rite of passage for older kids. It can be heartbreaking as a parent to watch as your child deals with this type of situation -- do you intervene? Should you let them change schools? What is the best thing to do? As with so many issues related to parenting, there are no clear-cut answers. But here, the parents of Parent Soup discuss ways that they can help their children deal with social adversity while learning the important lesson of being true to themselves.

"After two daughters surviving junior high, my theory is that the 'popular' kids are really only popular with each other. No one else truly likes them. Most of the time they are catty -- you have to step on a lot of backs to climb that social ladder. We encouraged our girls to work hard, play fair, have fun and be themselves -- not always easy. My younger daughter has already had some short-term success with this philosophy and the older has already found out a lot about herself and likes most of what she sees. This I consider to be true success in life."

"Kids learn from their parents, and in many cases parents themselves have are organized into similar 'groups.' I am only 14, but I have seen adults excluding other adults, talking about them behind their backs, and even making fun of other parents. Kids see that, assume it's okay, and mimick it. Heck, even our neighborhoods are grouped into lower class, upper-middle, etc."

"I considered my older son's seventh grade year to be "the year from Hell." It was the year when bulleying was in full swing in his school. But he had to handle it. No one else. Moving him would have accomplished nothing. It was then that I realized that I brought him up too nice. I had to reverse it. I encouraged him to handle his bully. It took coaxing and reassurance that we would stand behind him. He did it, and as a result he felt so much better about himself."

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