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Dealing with Pre-adolescent Cattiness

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: How do I teach my 12-year-old daughter the skills to deal with the cattiness and general behavior of pre-adolescent girls? One girl may make fun of the way my daughter wears her hair; another may say "I'm not playing with you today -- I'm playing with so-and-so instead." She has been going to the same small-town school since first grade. She has always had difficulty with forming relationships and takes these negative remarks to heart. I don't know what to do.

A: It is always so hard to see one's child hurt by mean remarks. Continue to strengthen your daughter's self-image by letting her do things to help you around the house. Continue to love her, to tell her when you are pleased with her, to compliment her on what she does, dresses, smiles, laughs, etc. She is not alone in having difficulty in forming relationships. Most pre-adolescents do, even though they may appear sophisticated and seem to have many friends.

The relationship you and the rest of your family nurture with your daughter are the surest and best ways to protect her. If the harassing continues, I encourage you to talk with the school counselor. You might be able to get her involved in a good peer-mediation or conflict-resolution program.

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Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.


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