Don’t be fooled. I’ve seen this little face so many times only to be confused when something mean or belittling comes out of it, and it’s directed at me (an adult)! I can only imagine how that little smile is at school or with the neighborhood girls.
It has only happened once or twice in my babysitting/childcare career and when it does, I have to admit, I’m a bit hurt. I currently have two girls 7 and 9 years old that are snide, rude, and just plain catty when they speak to me. When they profess their dislike of me it takes everything I have not to tell them that the feeling is mutual! I don’t; I usually laugh, and tell them that I can tell when kids like me or not so it isn’t a surprise. I then find a game for us to do together or some other activity that they will say something mean about even if most kids I do it with that are their age love it. When I babysit these two I drag my feet out the door.
I have yet to have little boys be mean, and I have a lot of boys. What makes little girls mean? Maybe if I can understand this phenomenon I can assist mean girls to be more kind. When I’ve done some reading on the subject and it appears that this behavior comes when a child begins to pull away from their parents and find their own groups to be with that are their same age.
I recently read an article Why Are Those Girls So Mean by: GreatSchools Staff/February 8, 2016 they quote: “Cliques are self-reinforcing,” writes Wiseman. “As soon as you define your role and group, you perceive others as outsiders. It’s harder to put yourself in their shoes, and it’s therefore easier to be cruel to them or watch and do nothing.” This one sentence helped. Their mom is a single mom; dad is in his own house with a girlfriend (their divorced), and both parents are busy. Mom busy working to provide for the girls and dad with another life (he is active with the girls but he’s not their as much as they would like). The girls have become a clique between themselves and I am an outsider, I’m not wanted, I represent the time that they are away from their parents. This gave me strength to have compassion for them. I already simply let them express themselves. I give them little glimpses of understanding when they ask in a catty way; “Why do you have bangs” or “Why do you wear earrings like that” or ” Why do you have such a small car?” I simply come back with questions in kind: “Why do you wear flowered shorts” or “Why do you have that backpack”? I don’t say it the same way (catty) it’s simply a straight forward question. When I respond this way the girls get a look in their eyes of recognition as they say: “Because we like it”. I then say; “yup, exactly why I do.”
I really do care for these girls in spite of themselves. I worry about them, and I hope that I can have a positive influence on them. I find that influence may not be something I will be able to attain with them but I try. One thing that has been influential for me is to recognize how much their remarks can hurt, and to research how I can possibly assist them on their journey.