Who doesn’t love a juicy front-page story straight from the tabloids? Or a little chat over coffee about the neighborhood mom who went away for the weekend and looks like she had some work done? Admit it -- we all gossip. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others and to use the behavior of other people to balance and check our own. But gossip is turning into a problem with our girls, sometimes as early as preschool. “Rural or urban, rich or poor, our New American Girl is becoming crueler and most especially during those tween years,” says Michele Borba, Ed.D. about this disturbing trend. “But even most disturbing: Mean behavior is starting at younger ages! Every group of educators and parents I’ve worked with voice their concern about the newer and meaner girl scene.”
What can you do to make sure gossip doesn’t turn ugly?
Point it out
In our celebrity-obsessed society, we are surrounded by a daily dose of gossip that involves people we don’t even know. Talk to your daughter about the rumors and accusations that surround celebrities, either in print or in the media. Point out hurtful comments and talk about how they must make the celebrity and their family feel. Even some rumors that turn out to be true are spread maliciously and are hurtful.
Set the example
What does your tween hear when your best girl friend calls? Do you spend lots of time chatting about other people, speculating about who-did-what or spreading nasty rumors? It’s time to check your behavior and watch the example you are setting. It may take some real effort, but start paying attention to how often you talk about others and try to turn it around.
Our tweens and teens are connected to their social media outlets almost 24/7. A lot of the gossiping and bullying happening in this age group is occurring in cyberspace. Talk to your daughter about her texts, Facebook posts and instant messages and how permanent these forms of communication are. It’s easy to say something nasty about another person in a text message because it feels so impersonal. Messages like this are out there for all to see and they will be online forever.
Gossip can hurt -- help your daughter stop before it becomes hurtful to someone else.