Relationship Skills

Family Resources on Facing the Queen Bee/Top Cat

Project and Purpose

Students will write relational aggression gossip scenarios based on cues given by the teacher, and as a group determine what it would take to make the right thing happen in each situation.

Essential Questions

How do we break the patterns of relational aggression?

If this lesson was used in the classroom: Students defined the term “relational aggression” and used various scenarios to assess the negative impacts of relational aggression. Students discussed specific roles that different people in a group can have as relational aggression occurs and how to recognize these situations.

Getting Ready for the Conversation

Relational aggression is a specific type of bullying behavior where someone is excluded from a group and/or gossip is used to ostracize a person (or people). In some cases, people participating in relational aggression realize that they are perpetuating a harmful activity, but sometimes students who are “trying to fit in” also participate in relational aggression without understanding the damage relational aggression causes. Learning the effects of relational aggression and understanding how to break the patterns of relational aggression is essential to preventing this type of behavior from harming others.

Conversation Starters and Practice at Home

The first item is for follow-up after participating in class activities.

Define “relational aggression”. What are some examples? Describe what you learned about relational aggression from the scenario that your group considered.

Is relational aggression a problem at your school (or some other community activity)?
Describe why or why not using examples.

Describe why participating in relational aggression interferes with relationships with others (or harms others)

School to Home Resources on Facing the Queen Bee/Top Cat


  • Board or chart to draw a large Venn Diagram
  • Hive/Pack Relational Aggression Roles chart
  • Scenario slips — Cut apart on the horizontal lines

Lesson Plan


1. Draw a Venn Diagram (two circles that partially overlap in the middle) on the board and label one circle “gossiping” and the other “sharing.” Ask students to define each term and fill in the diagram with how gossiping and sharing are the same and how they are different. Tell students they will be asked to add information to the chart as the class progresses.

2. Explain that this session will focus on how gossip fits into relational aggression, often incorrectly referred to as “Mean Girls” syndrome, named after the movie by the same name. Why is this incorrect? Because it’s not just girls who are involved; research shows us that boys are equally involved in relational aggression.

3. The Ophelia Project, the leading organization on the topic, defines relational aggression as when people spread lies about someone, ignore someone or purposefully leaves others out. It can include any/all the following:

  • talking badly about others
  • backstabbing one another
  • making fun of others for who they are, the way they dress or how they look
  • excluding and ostracizing others
  • leaving hurtful or mean messages on cell phones, social media, desks and lockers
  • cyberbullying or shaming others online
  • intimidating others
  • using peer pressure to get others to participate in bullying
  • establishing rules for anyone who wants to be part of the social group
  • forming cliques spreading rumors or engaging in gossip

4. Ask them how any of this information fits into the Venn Diagram and have a volunteer write their analysis in the correct section of their chart

5. Post the Hive/Pack Relational Aggression roles and discuss the information on the sheet. Remind
students not to use any names as they discuss—they are not to assign these titles to anyone in the class or the school, but be aware that they will definitely recognize these descriptions as Hives/Packs exist in every community.

6. Have the class form groups of four and give each member a copy of the Hive/Pack Relational
Aggression Roles OR keep it posted. Give each group a scenario and tell the group they are going to discuss the scenario and determine what each of the roles would say or do in the situation they have been assigned.

7. When they have completed their charts, gather the group back together to share their scenarios and possibly compare their work with fictional episodes they have watched on television, seen in films, read in books, etc.


Ask the group to respond to the final questions on the sheet: What is the right thing to do/say in this situation? Why? What does it take to make the right thing happen?

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