I suspected something was up when you asked me to sit by you on your bed instead of reading to you tonight. I could tell something was bothering you all day today by the way you didn't scream "Daddy!" when I came home, and by your silence at the dinner table. And when we listened to your iPod, you didn't smile at me when your favorite song came on, either. I'm glad we were able to talk tonight. Please know that I will always be available to talk whenever you want.
Having said that, I want to tell you how sad I am that those girls said those mean things to you today. I never suspected your friends were already getting into that drama. I should have paid better attention. As you now know, unfortunately, kids can be really mean. I wish I could say it gets better when you get older, but I'd be lying. Grown-ups can be pretty mean, too.
You're only in 4th grade, but I want to give you the best advice I can to help you prepare yourself for life ahead: Some people are just jerks. I know, I know. It's not a very nice thing to say about others — you always have a nack for pointing out when I say mean things. But this is true. Sometimes people do and say things that are unexplainable. Don't take their comments as a reflection on yourself. Instead, take it as a reflection on them. For whatever reason, some people find some kind of joy in putting others down and making others feel bad. I wish I could explain it better than this but I can't. I'm not able to understand why their mind works that way.
So instead of trying to understand why they would say something like they did, and blaming yourself, rest assured that there's nothing wrong with you. You are a kind, sweet and intelligent girl. You have a love for people and animals (even though we won't let you get a dog), and there's nothing more you want than to be liked by others. There's nothing wrong with you; there's something wrong with them.
Kids shouldn't say those kinds of things to you. Nobody should say those kinds of things to another person. Unfortunately, we live in a world where people do ugly things. And unfortunately in this world, people support ugly things (like when that girl's friends chimed in and started making fun of you, too). I wish I could say that you'll get to a point where it won't hurt so badly, but, again, I'd be lying. It always hurts when people say or do mean things. And because people are people, you'll see and experience mean ones for a long time.
Even grown-ups experience mean people at work, at church, etc., and it gets us down, too. It makes us all feel bad. It makes us wonder if there's something wrong with us. The truth is, I think even grown-ups could all use the advice that I'm giving you now. I often forget and have to remind myself of it.
I know this doesn't sound very reassuring. In fact, it probably sounds downright depressing. But again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. And that's the best assurance there is. Unlike them, you don't have to put others down to feel good about yourself. You have enough going for yourself that you're inherently happy without having to do that. Because of your inner beauty (your warmth, compassion, friendliness and love for others), you have a wealth of friends and family who love you, and whom you love in return.
Your love for others will be one of your greatest strengths as you go through life. You'll always find yourself surrounded by people who love you, care about you and want the best for you. Those girls who made fun of you won't. There will come a time when even their own friends will question why they tolerate such rudeness from each other. And the ones who don't, will find themselves in one toxic relationship after another — and may never understand why. But you don't have to worry about that because you surround yourself with people who are as kind and loving as you are. You are a genuine friend to others and because of that, people want to be friends with you — that's probably why you got voted as your class representative.
I'm so sorry that those girls said those mean things to you today. I can understand why you feel sad. But the simple act of them saying those things shows that you're way cooler than them. So instead of feeling sad for yourself, feel sad for them. They're the ones with the problems, not you.
Aaron Anderson is a therapist and Director of The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, CO. He is a writer, speaker and relationship expert. Checkout his blog for expert information on how to improve your relationship.