Just like adults, children can be mean and cruel to one another. Sometimes cruel or unkind words spoken by one child to another can be all that’s needed for friendships to fall apart.Remarks like, “I’m not your friend anymore!” and “I don’t like you. You’re mean” are an all too commonly heard in the school playground.We have listed some strategies you as a parent can try to help your child if he is struggling with mean friends.

Be emotionally available
Your child will need your support to help her cope with feelings of hurt and upset. Reassuring your child that these feelings and experiences are normal is the most important thing you can do for your child.

Perspective taking
Try to get your child to understand why their friend was mean to them. There may be an explanation which could help your child gain perspective and understanding.

Allow time
In some cases, ‘mean’ kids may just be having a bad day and may have taken it out on a school friend. Who doesn’t have a bad day! By listening, monitoring, and offering guidance, things can often settle down in a relatively short period of time.

Get together with the other parent
If your child has been coming home upset about fighting with a close friend, it can be a good idea to meet or speak to the other parent. Most parents are very willing to communicate and they’re usually as concerned about the issues as you are. You do need to remember that when you speak to the other parent, this issue may in fact be a two way street and your child may not always be the victim. It’s important to keep an open mind and work towards solutions rather than lay blame and point fingers.

Encourage play dates and observe the children
By bringing the children together in a safe and supervised environment you will be able to:
  • Better understand how their friendship works
  • You will also be able to teach and guide the children about how to behave appropriately, e.g. In our house, we speak kindly to one another.
  • By removing outside factors, the relationship can develop in an environment with less distractions than in the school yard. 
Involve the school
Most schools and their staff want the very best for all their students and that includes good relationships between peers. If you and other parents have been unsuccessful in improving things between children consider speaking to a teacher about your concerns. Remember, they will have dealt with similar situations before.