It doesn't have to be like this!
I spent my life thinking "it doesn't have to be like this"
No! "It doesn't have to be like this."
I have spent years questioning. Why are girls so mean to each other? Having been a victim of bullying myself. I also watched girls beat the crap out of eachother. It was painful, and It made me so sad.
Then, I had girls of my own. I watched them grow up. I found I often moved them in and out of different schools. Always trying my best to find the right one. One where children would be supportive of each other and where staff would make it a priority to instil children with kindness. I thought surely this is a number one priority. If children are all kind, then there is a safe place where they can grow. Away from fear or insecurities. A place where they are safe to explore and develop. Where their peers would be their strength.
I remember always examining why parents didn't question the way things were moving and wondered why they just went along with the latest thing. Girls were becoming brats, but it didn't seem to bother others. Parents would complain about it yet, they would let their girls watch the TV series brats buy brats merchandise. Couldn't they see by allowing this their little girls were having first-hand training in becoming total brats? Makes sense to me.
I felt increasingly frustrated and quite isolated because. I believed that the school environment could be a kinder place a thriving place of community integration. The headteacher had all the power in the palm of her hands. Surely it was the duty of the head to bring the community together?. I always felt the playground was the loneliest place on earth. I am sure a lot of you can relate to that?
I was shocked at the general banter of unkind words and competitiveness that was taking place among our girls. It felt totally unnecessary. Why was it that emotional intelligence was not being taught in our schools?
I remember comments from other parents like"It's healthy" and, "they all go through it." "it's only a phase!"
Why do Parents think that everything is a phase and that these girls just have to go through it? Go through what I ask? at what price? At what point are we going to think that this is not ok?
As girls get older life brings more challenges, things are more in our girl's faces. What they look like, getting likes, 24/7 TV, less sleep, Social media, full-on porn, sexting, dangerous chat rooms, airbrushing, eating disorders, drinking and drugs. The list is endless.
What about all the self-harming? I hear again, "it's just a phase." REALY!
I'm sure we all ask ourselves the question, what can do to make a difference? Surely it is time for this " phase idea" to come to a dramatic end? We need to do the work. Get involved. I hear all too often mums saying to me. "I don't know anything about what she is doing." "she tells me nothing." It has become such a trend for parents to get thrown out of the picture by our girls. But, who made this decision?
Having worked with girls for many years now. I have witnessed how they interact and share dialogue, I have watched how rude and disrespectful they can be to their parents. I am blown away at how catty, competitive and nasty they can be to each other. They are so quick to point out the shortcomings of each other and so ready to jump in with a backstabbing remark. Offensive insult Or sarcastic banter. Always taking every moment they can to bring negative motivation to the group. Putting each other down publicly and doing it with pleasure.
I have the honour to work with girls, I know inside they are all lovely, and each of them has fantastic qualities, with huge potential but, when they get into groups, they can be so cruel. It's like something unleashes in them, and they start to sabotage one another. When they become a teen, they gain a license to put their parents aside. This disconnection from their parents is incredibly dangerous.
Imagine, they are seeking advise and support from their peers who are not only immature but, most of the time, they are stabbing them behind their backs. Imagine this. A friend turns to another for help. The friend gives advise. The next day they fall out, and the whole class are fed the information. Leaving this poor girl distraught. This poor girl does not turn to her parents, and so she carries on. Her insecurities grow dramatically, she can't trust anyone. This can go on for years.
This leads to shame and fear. It is an endless trap and causes girls insecurities leading them to anxiety, depression to self halm and sadly suicide.
How did it get to this? School is not serving our girls needs. It is not pleasurable for most. Schools are failing to get to the bottom of this self-sabotage that girls are inflicting on each other. The rise in mental health issues among young girls is evidence of this.
I started to wonder do these girls realise how much pain they are causing each other? Are they self-aware? Does anyone ever question their self-awareness and address these issues? Do they know they can change? That they can genuinely not buy into this negative culture that is actually not making them at all happy. Do they realise that they have the power to change this and turn it around? Do they not understand that they are creating this vicious cycle for themselves. They are exhausting themselves with all of this negative energy.
How do we turn this negative playground into a place of respect, trust and love? Where happiness is normal. Where our girls are jumping out of bed, ready to learn and be creative. Feeling brave and bold enough to try new things and grow in an environment where there is no room for ridicule and judgement. A playground where respect and kindness are first and foremost at the heart of our schools. In the TRUE sense. LIP service is NOT enough.
I have seen first hand that. If you place girls in a situation where they feel trust and support and give them a task that will help them to see clearly what is going on in their classroom in their homes, carefully pointing out to them in a non-challenging way that things like gossiping and ridicule are hurting and causing so much pain. Put the onus on them and ask them. How does it feel to make each other experience this kind of sadness? They are shocked and overcome with grief. It's at that point they can introspect and ask themselves. "Is this what I am doing?"
Nine out of ten girls face this fact that they, in some way, are contributing to this problem. It is at this point that they want to learn how they can put an end to this. How they can change and use tools to help not only themselves but, their friends.
What I see is they all want a better life. Where they feel happy and confident. They all want to feel safe and have trusted companions that will become friends for life.
We owe it to them to help them understand this, right?
For this to happen, we need to be authentic and real. If we keep patching up the problem without getting to the core, it will not solve anything. It is time we started to look at the bigger picture.