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Teen Talk: Teen Girls & Cattiness

Teen Talk
Posted at 8:00 AM, Aug 31, 2015
and last updated 2016-07-04 11:48:31-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) -- It's another Back to School edition of Teen Talk, all about teens and cattiness. 

High school cattiness is a very common experience.  Your child will either be a part of it or witness it at some point in her high school career.  So for parents to help your daughter manage these issues through the high school years it is important that they be aware of certain dynamics that may help kids navigate this experience.

Here's advice from Family Therapist Jane Marks:

1. Step back and figure out if this is a onetime event and at the same time have you defined your core family values?

2. Have you taught social skills that address mastery over social situations?  When girls have high self-esteem they then have the ability to navigate social situations when under pressure.  This typically discourages mean or catty behavior.

3. Create a sense of accountability.  If you see your daughter or her friends being cruel, get them to talk about, A., how they feel about it, what would they do in that situation?, B., are they accountable for creating stress in someone else’s life?, c. what do they believe are the consequences?  Remember, one of the things we always talk about is solutions.

4. It is important when you see incidences of cruelty or cattiness that you document it, particularly if this is an ongoing pattern.  If there are two or three incidences, document them and explain why this behavior is unacceptable.  Remember, while you are doing this make sure you validate your child but do not condemn her as a person.

5. Know the families of your teen’s friends.  If this is a continuing problem you can get together to talk about this and address it as a group as opposed to just one family being involved.

6. Does your teen consistently interact with people in a way, in all areas of her life, that they make people feel better about themselves as opposed to criticizing them?  Remember we live in a world now that is quick to criticize and not often offers solutions.

7. Remember to pay attention to your behavior.  Are you the type of person to criticize or find fault with other people?  If that is the case, they may be recreating the family dynamics all over again.  Remember your child needs support, guidance and modeling for what good interpersonal relationships look like.

8. It is also important to point out that cattiness can develop into the mean girl syndrome so remind your daughter that although she has no control over what other people say she does have control over her own responses and whether she is stressed or not if she is calm and she discourages it, she can be part of the solution as opposed to part of the continuing problem.  Teach disengagement from conversations.

9. Encourage friendships from diverse backgrounds.  To be in other groups also means you gain an understanding of what is important to them and their values.  This too is long term skill to take into the future.

10. Remember part of our role as parents is to teach self-confidence and if you have a daughter that is in these conversations and doesn’t quite know how to extricate herself from it, one of the most efficient statements I have ever taught kids is, “I don’t think I heard what you said, would you repeat that?”  In most situations kids don’t like to repeat themselves because it draws attention to this very negative interaction.

11. Learn to reframe negative situations.  Sometimes it’s important to focus on either the good things about this person or how maybe life’s circumstances have led to a particular situation, that’s part of the conversation.

Remember, as parents you are certainly one of the most important guides in your teen’s lives.  Teens trust you to guide them in so many ways.  While they want validation from you, you still remain the steward in personal growth and development.