Helping Teens Survive High School Cattiness

Dr. Phil joins with Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and Other Realities of Adolescence, to give parents advice on helping their daughters make it through the difficult times that girls encounter with their friends during the teen years.

  • Parents should define their family values, and teach them to their children by example. Parents must begin teaching empathy at age 8 or earlier.

  • Teach mastery over social situations. From this competence comes self-esteem, and a girl's ability to navigate situations in which her friends are pressuring her to be mean. Girls with low self-esteem will do anything to please their peers.

  • Make your daughter accountable for being cruel. Tell her what the consequences will be if she spreads gossip or rumors. She has to be accountable for what she creates in her life. Pointing fingers and blaming someone else is very immature. She needs to be able to own her part in a situation.

  • Site specific incidents of cruelty. It is important to recall a tangible example of what your child did wrong, so she can relate and understand her why her behavior is unacceptable.

  • Validate her, but condemn the behavior.

  • Make a contract. Agree with your daughter that her word is a bond. When she agrees to act a certain way, she must keep her promise or face the punishment.

  • Ask your daughter to think about the top three things she has to have in a friendship. Then she needs to ask herself, "When I hang out with girls and when I've got friendships with them, do my friendships match with what I say I have to have in a friendship?" If they do, that's good. If they don't, then that's not OK, and she needs to re-evaluate those friendships.

  • People make a statement with how they act, dress, and how they are. For example, girls send a message by the clothes they wear and spending a lot of time on their appearance. What message is your daughter sending? Both you and she need to explore that.

  • There is no reality, only perception. You can't control what others think or don't think about you, but you can do things that help the situation.

  • Know the parents of your daughter's friends so you can talk to them if there is a problem.

  • Cliques are a normal part of growing up. Everyone's number one need is to have a sense of belonging and acceptance. People want to feel that there is somewhere they belong, somewhere they feel comfortable. Don't tell your daughter she has to be friends with everyone. She does, however, need to treat everyone with respect.

  • Teach your children to embrace a philosophy where they interact with people in a way that makes the other person feel better about who they are, instead of your children feeling better about themselves at someone else's expense.

  • Think about the future. Remind your daughter that the choices she makes now can affect what's going to happen in the future. Looking at the big picture might prevent her from getting too caught up in the moment.

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