Kelly found herself hiding in the bathroom at recess for the fifth time this week. She had tried to talk to the teacher, but nothing ever happened. The other girls were making her life miserable and she didn’t know how much more she could take. At lunch, the girls had passed around cartoons depicting her as a pig eating at a trough. Later, at recess, they snubbed her and whispered in front of her. When Kelly nonchalantly turned to walk away someone had thrown sour milk on her back and now her blouse reeked. She tried her best to wash off the stain, but the smell remained.
I often talk about what happens to our boys when we neglect to address their “fire” needs during the elementary school years. As stated before, we are more comfortable medicating our boys than we are in dealing with these needs. But what happens to the ignored “fire” needs of girls during these years? Instead of channeling their fire through healthy competition and collaboration, these girls are forced to find their own way of coping with the “fire in their belly.” Misdirected passion and creativity can result in destructive behaviors. By the time these girls reach middle school, they have become the “mean girls” we’ve been hearing so much about of late. We must provide safe and appropriate outlets for their fire that are not tied to expectations of achievement. Too often, extra-curricular activities fuel our children’s anger, for they are required to win or accomplish a specific goal that we have in mind for them. Children need freedom to express their fire creatively without being tied to expectations or external results. Parents can help channel this energy by collaborating with their children on projects, playing with them and even playfully competing. By using the power of connection and empathy learned during the earlier water stage of development, parents can help extinguish too much fire. An empathetic child who is connected to parents and peers won’t exhibit bullying or violent behaviors.