No parent ever wants to consider the possibility that their son or daughter could be one of the mean popular kids at school, those who shun and dismiss anyone who’s different. I call them Elite Tormentors, and the caring, compassionate popular students who stand up for the underdog, Elite Leaders.
What are some of the warning signs your son or daughter may be in danger of turning into an Elite Tormentor? Pay attention to your child’s demeanor on the phone. Does it sound like he/she is making a joke at someone else’s expense or gossiping about another student? When he and his friends text one another, are they putting down other classmates? Has your child recently started excluding any of their old friends from social activities and when you ask why, they don’t have a plausible answer?
If your child is posting regularly on Instagram, have they posted any photos that humiliate another child? Be curious. While you may not wish to invade your child’s privacy, if he/she is taking advantage of that privacy to hurt themselves or someone else, as a parent you need to pull rank, lovingly demand access to their social networking and texting activity, and retain that access until you’re comfortable they are not the cause or on the receiving end of anything harmful emotionally.
Another effective technique for outing an Elite Tormentor is to casually have a conversation with your child about who’s popular at school and who’s not, coaxing her into revealing the names of those students who struggle to fit in or who strike her as lonely.
A week later, ask her if she’d like to host a party, suggesting it might be nice if, along with her friends, she invited a couple of the forgotten ones, too. If she agrees despite what her friends may think, she’s not an Elite Tormentor. In fact, she’s probably an Elite Leader. If she won’t because she’s fearful her friends would freak but feels badly about it, she’s most likely a bystander. But if she recoils at the thought or acts indignant, perhaps even laughs, chances are you’re living with an Elite Tormentor.
If your suspicions are confirmed, here are a couple suggestions: Continue reading