Queen Bees and Followers
In every class, there's a kid who has a hold over her peers, whether she's charismatic, pretty, smart, confident, or all of the above.
"She's the center of attention, and interesting things are always happening around her, which fascinates other kids," says Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bee Moms and Kingpin Dads. The problem: As popularity grows ever important, tween girls often want the queen bee's approval so badly that they'll do things they normally wouldn't, like tease another friend, simply to get in her good graces.
Boys are drawn to other classmates as frequently as girls are, says Wiseman. "But for boys the attraction's about knowledge -- they want to associate with the kid who knows a lot about sports or video games. For girls, it's about relationships -- how can I become best friends with the girl everybody likes?"
If you suspect your child's desire to please the queen bee -- or her power as the queen bee -- is getting out of hand, here's what to say:
If she's the follower: Remind her that you expect her to treat everyone around her with kindness and respect, and she deserves that same treatment from others. She probably won't want to sever ties to the queen bee, but explain that she can be friendly with someone without catering to her every whim.
If she's the leader: Explain that it's nice she's well liked but that it's not okay to use her popularity to make other kids do what she wants. Be clear that she should help her friends as much as they help her, and she shouldn't be mean to anyone, even if her status means she's gotten away with it -- so far.