Revenge: A Girl’s Preferred StrategyBy Blair Wagner, CPCC, ACC
In a recent When Girls Hurt Girls® workshop, I asked the girls what they would do if they were called a mean name. A second grade girl raised her hand and answered, “I’d call her a name back.” The revenge strategy is a typical response for girls that age.
Usually, an adult replies to such responses by telling girls, “Don’t do that.” But telling them not to seek revenge doesn’t teach them to do their own thinking.
Helping a Girl by Going Into Curiosity Mode
I recommend making the most of this teachable moment and going into curiosity (not judgmental) mode. The script goes something like this:
You: “So you’d call her a name in return. Hmm, that sounds like an interesting strategy. How would that make you feel?”
Girl: “It would make me feel good.”
You: “I can understand that. So what do you think might happen next?”
Let’s pause here. Remember, the goal of the curiosity approach is to help the girl think through the consequences of her actions.
The conversation might continue something like this:
Girl: “She might cry, or she might call me the mean name again. She might call me another mean name, too.”
You: “Is that what you want to have happen?”
You: “What do you want to have happen?”
Girl: “I want her to be nice to me.”
Helping Her Defuse the Situation
At this point, you can help guide the girl toward strategies that will help defuse the situation. Two of the best strategies are to ignore the name-calling and to speak up.
When girls ignore the name-calling, they take away the power of the name-calling by not reacting. Speaking up is another great strategy in this situation, because it empowers the target to take matters into her own hands and preserve her dignity as well as offer dignity to the other girl.
The target could respond to the bully with, “When you call me that, I don’t like it. I want you to call me by my name.” Then, she should walk away.
With girls in second grade and younger, we translate the 3 Ds (Dignity for me, Dignity for you, Defuse the situation) into the 3 Okays: I feel okay, you feel okay and the problem works out okay. Revenge doesn’t achieve the 3 Okays in any bullying situation.
With your coaching, your girls will learn to think through the consequences of their actions. This will help them see that revenge is ineffective and not an okay strategy.
© 2011 A Way Through, LLC
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