by Jessica Cleary, Psychologist
In My Secret Bully we meet Monica, a character relatable to many young girls. Monica has a best ‘friend’ named Katie and they have been friends since kindergarten.
But we soon learn that Katie is only nice to Monica when it’s just the two of them. Around other girls, Katie excludes Monica and says hurtful things to her. Monica is confused and sad that her friend is “just plain mean and for no good reason”.
This books helps identify what a real friend is and demonstrates that bullying can be hidden in what, at surface level, appears to be a friendship. Bullying isn’t always physical, loud and obvious. Sometimes (often) it is quiet and manipulative.
Monica feels so bad that she gets stomachaches and doesn’t want to go to school. With guidance from her mother, she learns to face her fears and assert herself to her bully.
The book includes a conversation between mother and daughter that might help parents who are looking for the language to use, and actions to take, to help their own child experiencing this social difficulty.
This book creates an opportunity to start a parent-child discussion about friendship and relational aggression. It can help your child examine their own friendships and potentially identify problem friends who are acting as bullies. The book encourages children to seek help from their parent if in a similar situation. It is highly recommended for mid to upper primary school children to read along with a parent.
Jessica is the Principal Psychologist and Director of Hopscotch & Harmony as well as the grateful mother of three children. She is passionate about building resilience in children and helping parents guide their children's behaviour through positive, effective parenting approaches.