7-year-olds: The new mean girls?

Oct. 12, 2010 at 9:42 AM ET

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The New York Times recently ran a story that challenged the popular perception of 7-year-olds. While many may not expect bullying to crop up so early, a new survey suggests that aggressive behavior has trickled down into preschool and grade school. The government’s “Stop Bullying Now!” program is even launching a campaign geared towards 5-to-8-year-olds.  Acting on the belief that this sort of behavior starts earlier, steps are being taken to nip it in the bud.

But is this genuinely a new phenomenon? Is today’s crop of preschoolers really that much more prone to meanness than their predecessors? Psychologists don’t necessarily see any credible research that verifies that concern, but admit  that the influence of media and popular culture may be a factor. Another crucial influence, of course, are the parents. In some instances, parents may even be perceiving their child’s meanness as indication of that child’s popularity.

Parents, what’s your impression? Have you noticed an uptick in relational aggression in your own preschooler’s playground? Have you witnessed any blatant meanness among your daughters in the single-digit set? Or is this simply the preoccupation of over-involved, hyper-critical parents? Share your stories in the comment section below.