How to Deal with Relational Aggression
Relational aggression is a form of bullying that targets the relationships of others in an effort to damage them to the advantage of the bully. This is frequently seen in adolescents, especially teenage girls. Thankfully there are many ways we can combat this kind of bullying.
- Be assertive. Learn how to stand up for yourself while considering how your behavior can impact others. This can help you develop healthy relationships and avoid relational aggression.
- Know your values. Knowing what is important to you in a friend relationship can help you identify those that might be unhealthy for you. You do not have to stay in an unhealthy friendship.
- Strengthen your self-esteem. Work towards feeling confident in yourself, no matter what might be said about you.
- Talk to someone. The adolescent social world can be difficult and pose any number of challenges. Find an adult you feel comfortable with. A parent, school counselor, or therapist could all be a safe person to vent or get advice on how to deal with difficult situations.
How to have assertive communication
Being assertive in your communication with peers and those around you can help you deal with relational aggression that may be going on around you or to you. Learning how to be assertive is a very important skill to learn and can benefit you in many ways.
Assertiveness is neither passive nor aggressive.
Passive communication shows up as a person giving in and going along with decisions or actions they might not agree with. They tend to appear agreeable, but this can lead to a suppression of their own thoughts and desires.
Aggressive communication shows up as a person pushing through situations and not listening to others’ thoughts and viewpoints. They tend to push others away with their abrasive communication style.
Assertive communication allows for the expression of someone’s individual thoughts and opinions while explicitly considering others and re-evaluating their own conclusions as necessary. This allows for easy communication where both parties feel included and heard and where compromises, when needed, come easily.
Below are some examples of assertive communication you could employ in order to combat relational aggression.
- Being open in expressing thoughts and feelings and encouraging others to do the same
- Sincerely listening to the thoughts and feelings of others and responding appropriately, whether you agree, change your mind, disagree, or come to a compromise.
- Being able to admit mistakes and apologize.
- Maintaining self control
- Behaving as an equal to others
“Mean girls” can be hard to deal with as an adolescent, but hopefully we have given you some ways to combat that.
And remember, you’re not alone anymore!