Parenting

Mean girls: Pre-teens want ‘revenge’ on bad friends

Mean girls

Little girls may be sugar and spice, but they are anything but nice when friends let them down.

A new study conducted by Duke University has proved that movies like Mean Girls are not as exaggerated as people might think.

While previous research suggested young girls were better at forming and maintaining friendships than young boys, the Duke University study found that girls are more likely to be angry, sad and seek revenge against the pal who wronged them.

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Researchers asked a group of 267 pre-teen boys and girls about how they would feel in 16 hypothetical situations, which included friends telling their secrets to other children, friends not completing their part of a group assignment and friends not reacting compassionately to personal tragedies, such as the death of a pet.

Both sexes were just as likely to want to verbally attack the friend, threaten to end the friendship, or seek revenge against the friend.

But when it came to emotions, girls were far more affected by a disappointing friend than boys, reporting they would feel more anger and sadness.

Girls were also more likely to view the friend’s transgression as a sign the pal didn’t care about them.

“Our finding that girls would be just as vengeful and aggressive toward their friends as the boys is particularly interesting because past research has consistently shown boys to react more negatively following minor conflicts with friends, such as an argument about which game to play next,” study leader Steven Asher said.

“It appears that friendship transgressions and conflicts of interest may push different buttons for boys and girls.”

Asher and the report’s co-author Julie Paquette MacEvoy hope their findings can be used to help parents better understand how to support children going through a difficult time at school.

“When we try to help children who are struggling in their friendships, we may need to focus on somewhat different issues for boys versus girls,” MacEvoy said.

“For girls, it may be critical to help them learn how to better cope when a friend lets them down.”

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The study will be published in an upcoming issue of Child Development.

Your say: How do your children react when a friend disappoints them?

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