Teach your child to pay more attention to her own life than to that of others. Many children get into the habit of gossiping early on in life. Although a certain amount of talking about friends behind their backs is completely normal and is a part of growing up, ideally your child should learn that gossiping can be destructive to an extent, and is largely a waste of time.
Gossip is of course not all evil, and most of us like to indulge in some amount of back biting every now and again. But when we are so consumed by gossiping about others that it radically alters our opinion about them or changes our behaviour towards them, things may be getting slightly out of hand.
Does your child come home every night and start gossiping with her friends? Such behaviour is normal amongst teenagers, but do remember that the more vicious the gossip, the more pleasure your child takes in speaking about another's misfortunes, the more likely it is that your child herself is not very satisfied with herself.
Waste of time
Do try and keep your child actively involved in activities. Children who are busy and involved seldom worry about who's doing what with whom. Similarly, they don't need to make themselves feel better by talking about others, since they are too consumed by their own life and passions.
Teach your child this golden rule: It is always better to be the one talked about, than to be the one doing the talking. Needless to say, few of us will gossip about very insignificant people. None of us would spend a lot of time discussing the lives of our maids, would we? This is because we find them far too insignificant, and would possibly only grumble about their inefficiency as far as it affects us. However, we would definitely relish gossip about a senior colleague - especially someone whose success annoys us profoundly.
We gossip about those people that we feel are our equals, or who we feel have it better than we do. In speaking badly about them, we try and convince ourselves that we are fine the way we are. However, doing this can also have a negative effect, since it may kill our drive to achieve more. A lot of people would rather sit back and bitch and moan about those who have it all, rather than strive to have it all ourselves. We will teach our children to hate our more successful relatives, we will form our own little circle of those who are equally bitter, and will enjoy tearing them down - feeding off our own resentment.
This is not a very healthy attitude towards life, yet in this increasingly competitive world we find jealousy and envy rearing their ugly heads ever so often - tempting us to spew our venom by indulging in back biting.
The best way to keep your child out of this vicious circle is to make sure she is busy with her own life, and that all her free time is well utilized. Do you think teenage tennis sensations like Venus and Serena Williams or Sania Mirza really sit down with friends and spend hours tearing others down? Do you think they would really care if Radha coloured her hair and it looks awful? It's far more likely that they utilise time with friends well, and spend the rest of their free time
on the court, practicing to achieve perfection.