Dear American Girl,
My best friend and I have lots of fun together. She's a sweet girl, and she knows how to put a smile on my face. But lately, when we're around other kids, she makes fun of me. As soon as they walk away, she's back to her nice, normal self. I don't know why she's doing this, but the teasing is hurting my feelings. What should I do?
-Friend or foe?
Here's your advice:
There could be something difficult going on in your friend's life. Before you write her off, have a heart-to-heart talk with her. Try to find out the real reason why she is saying unkind things.
-Leah, age 13, Wyoming
Your friend may be trying to make new friends but isn't sure how to go about it. She may think that people will like her more when she's mean or sarcastic. Talk to your friend, and tell her that you like her best when she's being herself.
-Rebecca, age 12, Michigan
Ask your friend to do something that will give you a chance to talk, such as walking around a park or eating ice cream sundaes. Tell her how you feel—you'll be able to have a better conversation if it's just the two of you.
-Abby, age 10, Kentucky
The next time your friend starts teasing you, just say, "Well, I've got something else to do," and walk away. Show her that you're not going to stick around to be bullied.
-Rebekah, age 8, Mississippi
Take a little break from your pal. Hang out with girls who make you feel good about yourself. You should avoid spending time with anyone who makes you feel insecure, even if she is your best friend.
-An American Girl fan, age 12, New Mexico
I had a friend like that, too. One day, she started to not act like herself, and I realized that she had changed. At that moment, I knew I had to move on and make new friends. You can still be nice to this girl, but maybe it's best to take a step back.
-Bianca, age 9, Washington
Here's one thing NOT to do—don't try to get back at your friend! If you start saying mean things to her, you'll just make the situation worse. Either ignore this girl or try to talk it out.
-Emma, age 11, Virginia
If she's trying to impress the other kids instead of being loyal to you, maybe it's time to find a new best friend.
-Alyssa, age 12, Wisconsin
Your friend could be feeling down on herself. Sometimes, people try to make themselves feel better by making others feel bad. After telling your friend to stop making hurtful comments, talk to her about her self-esteem. Ask, "Are you feeling good about yourself?" If not, try to boost her confidence by complimenting her and celebrating her accomplishments.
-Sarah, age 13, South Dakota
This girl sounds like a bully. An on-again, off-again friend is a bully, and that's what this girl could be. Branch out and try to make friends with other girls. If this friendship is still important to you, you can remain friends with this girl—you just won't be as close as before.
-Daisy, age 11, Washington
When you talk to your friend about this problem, use "I" statements to show that you are standing up for yourself. For example, you could say, "I don't like it when you talk about me in a hurtful way." Also, stand up straight, and look her in the eyes.
-Tatum-Jane, age 10, Canada
Is your friend just trying to be funny? Maybe she doesn't know that she is saying hurtful things to you. Tell her that the comments are hurting your feelings and you would appreciate it if she would stop.
-Nellie, age 11, Tennessee
Think this problem over. How long have you two been friends? How long has she been teasing you? Is it worth it to be her friend? If the answers to these questions reveal this girl to not be a true friend, it's time to move on.
-Vanessa, age 12, Pennsylvania
Here is one way to start a conversation with your friend about this problem: "Am I imagining things, or are you nicer to me when it's just you and me and no one else is around?" Maybe saying this will make your friend realize her mistake.
-Anna, age 13, California
This girl might think that teasing you makes her look cool. Sit down with her and say, "If you want to be my friend, please act like one. Every time other kids are around, you start making fun of me, and it makes me feel bad."
-Taylor, age 10, Georgia
Even though this girl is your friend, this might turn into a case of serious bullying. Talk to a parent or another trusted adult about this problem. He or she could help you put a stop to it.
-Lizzy, age 11, Kentucky
Try putting yourself in your friend's shoes. What is it about these kids that makes her want to tease you? Are they popular? Do they intimidate her? If your friend is usually nice, something might be pushing her to say mean things. It's time to talk to her about this issue.
-Zoe, age 12, Iowa
Growing up can be difficult. As a girl gets older, she can start to feel confused about her identity. She'll ask herself, Who am I? Your friend might be unsure of her place in the world. She could be testing out different identities to discover which one works for her. Talk to your friend. Share your feelings, and tell her that you want to understand why she's acting this way.
-Anna, age 11, Virginia