Ms. Stewart is a sixth grade Science teacher. The lab for today entails dissecting a frog and identifying each part of the frog to that of a human being. Now, Ms. Stewart has decided to allow her class to select partners for this lab. Once she gives her instructions for the lab and for the students to pick a partner, she grows utterly impatient at the fact that it is taking the girls’ way too long to pick a partner. The reason, which she fails to see, is right in front of her. Who will work with whom? As the girls compete for the various positions that will display their social status of the day.
And then a horrible thing happens. Patrice, the most popular girl in the grade, happens to pick Shannon, the class loser as her partner. Will Patrice actually work with Shannon? As they sit down with their frog on the dissecting tray, Patrice jumps up and screams and “accidently” pushes the tray into Shannon’s lap. The girls giggle while Shannon pretends it’s funny.
As a parent, we tend to think that our daughter is perfect, she’s popular, and has a great bunch of friends. What one might fail to see is that she will run into dilemmas in regard to popularity and cliques. It’s the experiences that she will encounter in these cliques that lay the foundation for teaching her about companionship, support, understanding, authority and opportunity. As she lives her day to day routine, she will learn what kind of girl she has to be in order to be accepted by her group and this will influence all of her decisions ranging from the classes she takes to her choice in a boyfriend.
We need to give girls credit for the sophistication of their social structures. Our best politicians and diplomats couldn’t do better than a teen girl does in understanding the social intrigue and political landscape that lead to power. A general breakdown of the different positions that your daughter and her friends might play in the Queen Bee and her court: Queen Bee, Sidekick, Banker, Floater, Torn Bystander, Pleaser/Wannabe/Messenger, and Target. You now know the different roles girls play in cliques (Queen Bees and Wannabes).
The questions are: How are these roles created in the first place? Who and what determine these positions and power plays? Why are girls able to get away with treating each other so badly? (Queen Bees and Wannabes).
Whatever position your daughter is in, just take the time to talk to her and let her know that you understand what each rank entails. Discuss how each aspect can affect not only her, but also that of her friends. These are teachable moments for you, the parent and/or guardian because you have been in the same type of cliques (you might still be in one). Share your experiences and that way she can relate to you and recognize how to handle it. As soon as you establish the types of behaviors that you will accept and respect, everything should fall into place.