Stand Up
To Bullying

Are mean girl cliques making your daughter's life miserable? Dealing with these bullying cliques almost seems like a rite of passage for today's pre-teen girls. In fact, there was even a movie, Mean Girls starring Lindsay Lohan, that dealt with this exact subject. In order to help your daughter navigate this difficult time, we have searched out advice from parents, experts and even former mean girls to find out how girls can stand up to bullying cliques.

Many tween and teen girls are struggling with mean girl cliques who pressure them into doing certain things and ostracize or bully them if they don't go along with it. How can you teach your child to stick to her guns, hold her head up high and get through this trying time?

Get support from teachers

Kathy (whose name has been changed to protect her daughters' privacy), a Midwest mom whose 11-year-old daughter was recently the target of a mean girl clique and school bully, knew something was wrong when her daughter came home after the first day of school blinking back tears.

"Peers sent the message the first day that she was not going to be part of the "in" group, followed by an ensuing whispering campaign of insults decreed by the "queen bee" of the class who carried a lot of influence with the rest of the grade to judge who was and wasn't popular," says Kathy who says to this day her daughter has never been able to uncover what her "offense" was or exactly why she was targeted. "But the bullying certainly became unbearable when the "mean girls" swept her entire lunch onto the floor and got the desired effect as she was reprimanded and made to clean it up. "

  quotation mark open It's hard to accept that as parents we can't fix the problem directly, but there is a lot we can do to help our kids regain their confidence by listening and helping them find constructive solutions. quotation mark close

Kathy decided it was time to enlist the help of her daughter's teacher who took the opportunity to talk to the entire class about treating each other with more respect without identifying her daughter and pledged to follow-up if it didn't stop within a matter of weeks. Kathy believes the teacher's general confrontation to her daughter's class was a good first step in stemming the mean girls' bullying power.

"As a parent, I would stress trying to partner with a teacher. While you can't expect the school to punish behavior that is typically hidden, most teachers are very aware of bullying and mean girl behavior and may have ways to intervene without drawing attention to the specific student being victimized," says Kathy.

Encourage Extracurricular Activities

Getting involved in extracurricular activities is another way teens can build up confidence and meet new friends. Kathy feels that this, along with teacher involvement, helped turn the corner.

Her daughter had the opportunity to showcase her unique talents during a solo performance in the choir and it imbued her with confidence filling her with a sense of strength that likely deflated the rumors that had been circulating. "Supporting kids to pursue interests and develop their talents in other settings can definitely help give their confidence a lift. It's hard to accept that as parents we can't fix the problem directly, but there is a lot we can do to help our kids regain their confidence by listening and helping them find constructive solutions."

4 steps to Empower your daughter

According to Silvana Clark, co- author with her own daughter Sondra Clark of 12 Going on 29: Surviving Your Daughter's Tween Years (Praeger Publishing) who surveyed 400 tween girls who admitted they'd been bullied, most felt that the best way to counteract it was to ignore the bully and walk away. While, Clark admits that it may be hard to put that in place, here are four ways parents can help their daughters deal with bullying:


1.Set up some role playing situations

Parents can make a threatening comment to their daughter. Then have their child try different ways of responding. Sometimes a simple "I won't listen to you talk to me that way" does wonders. The key is for the tween to talk and walk assertively. That's why role playing is great. A tween might be scared to stand up to a bully, but if they can pretend to be assertive, the bully usually retreats.

2Make an actual list

Parents can have their daughter make a list about ways to deal with the bully and carry it with her as a reference of her options which should include: ignoring the bully, telling a teacher, staying with a group of friends and coming up with a snappy answer to the bully's threats. Then at the end of the day, parents can have their daughter look over the list and cross off what she has tried.

3Make sure she's surrounded by a group of like-minded friends

If their daughter is into tap dancing, parents should invite a few girls from dance class over to strengthen those relationships. It will be easier for her to ignore a bully who says her hair looks stupid if she has a group of friends who think her hair is cute.

4"Document" what the bully does in a special notebook

Parents can have their daughter write down what she did in this notebook every time the bully is mean to her. Parents should review the book on a regular basis. If the bully gives their daughter a dirty look on the bus, while that's not nice it certainly isn't bullying and a parent will have to instruct their daughter to learn to ignore the dirty look. However, if their daughter writes down that the bully pushed her at recess and knocked books off her desk, it might be time for the parent to step in.

Confront the Bully

"I know one mom who confronted a bully at her daughter's bus stop. She simply walked up to the girl, made eye contact and calmly and firmly said, 'It seems you have been saying mean things about Jessica. Please stop right now. You don't have to be friends but you don't have the right to say mean and hurtful things. Thank you.' Then the mom walked off and Jessica never bothered the girl again," says Clark who admitted that while it doesn't always work, it's worth a try.

"While another mother spent six months dealing with her daughter's bully. They tried everything, including meeting both the bully's parents, teachers and principals," Clark says. "Her daughter was still tormented. they even had the police go to the bully's house. They finally switched schools and her daughter became a new child with self confidence and a positive attitude. Unfortunate but true."

Next Page: A former Mean Girl shares her advice >>

Continue »

Tags: cliques

Recommended for you


Comments on "How to deal with mean girl cliques"

Sheryl September 03, 2013 | 10:37 AM

To Simi....I understand that you didn't like doormats but really all you have for advice is to not be you understand how difficult that can be for a shy preteen....?? I think's it's horrible that you will admit that you will tolerate people that stand up to you! So those who don't have the confidence..well too bad for them..are you saying that you have a right to belittle them because they don't stand up to you?? Shame on you!!!

hate mean girl July 13, 2010 | 2:57 AM

i was the target of mean girls when i was in high school.this is becase i was quiet but smart and some teachers like me. they always tried to called me with bad words...but the only way to settle this problem is to stick with friends or in group.. mean girls prey is lonely or quiet girls... but belive me this prey must strong to face this situation and dont be weak and started dont play truant just to avoid the mean girls...based on my expireance if you talk to teacher to ask them to stop bully you they only stop for a while and things become worse and the mean girl still try to bully.

Dee May 26, 2010 | 9:21 PM

My daughter was bullied in middle school and we turned to counselors and teachers to help. They helped to a degree but I also taught my girl that real friends don't treat you badly and never apologize. I told her to look for girls like her. The over-looked quiet and sweet ones and she found some great friends. The popular mean girls left them alone. Maybe they weren't "cool" but they had real friendship/companionship. If you need a friend, look for someone who also "needs a friend" and you may gain a lifelong true friendship.

One of the girls. May 07, 2010 | 10:45 AM

I'm 15, I have no clique, I have a popular boyfriend, and i'm friends with all different types of people. But because I have a lot of friends, i'm the target. I have black hair and wear heavy makeup. Girl will ALWAYS pick and choose their friends by looks. People change, friends drift. The only advise is to stick it through. All through middle school i was tormented. I got locked in a bathroom, I got stabbed with pencils, and got gum in my hair. You have to be strong, it makes you a better person. Now, i watch out for bullying. I don't let it happen in my "group" of friends. And because of that, I make new friends everyday. Even if your daughter is alone, she will make friends sooner or later. Bigger and better friends, and with that, she will blossom. Tell them to be strong, because they are beautifull ad strong! :D

Jennifer Westbrooke April 28, 2010 | 10:52 PM

Helping your daughters through this time is extremely important. I was actually in this situation as a child (3rd grade). My best friend had made some new friends during first and second grade, so when we were in the same class in third grade, I wasn't automatically in the "in-group". My efforts to make friends with the clique came off too strong, and for the rest of the year, I was a "follower". I am now just coming to terms with this (in my late twenties) and am confused really how to deal with it. It is a very confusing thing when you are told, as a child, that you are inadequate compared to the rest of your friends. Middle and high school were times I continuously (subconsciously) felt inadequate. I had a lot of friends in high school and people probabaly wouldn't know this about me, but now that I am in the real world, I have realized how scarred I really am from the experiences I had when I was in third grade. I have definately noticed anxiety in communicating with people I don't know well, even today. It is a time when your self-esteem is being shaped. I'm not sure if there is an answer, but I know I didn't have much support because I NEVER wanted to talk about it. Talk to them, even if they don't want to. I would always tell my mom I didn't want to talk, but it never kept me from listening. Also, let them know that it isn't out of the ordinary.

lisa July 11, 2009 | 1:16 PM

My daughter has become a target in her group of friends. Mostly targeted by one friend, but the others aren't loyal to her when they are all together. When they are alone they are all fine with her. How does a mom coach her daughter to stop becoming the target, she has not socialized as much with this group of girls, but sometimes they are all invited to something and I hate to always take my daughter out of it. They all belong to a club. She has told this girl to stop being mean to her and the answer has been - "i am not mean - whatever". Please someone tell me what my daughter should do? It seems like there was another girl that this "mean" girl was always mean to and now she has moved on to my daughter. I just need to know what my daughter should say or do - strategically to make this girl stop. This girl now either picks on my daughter or leaves her out and then talks about the great time they all had when my daughter wasn't invited. Any help would be appreciated.

jana July 05, 2009 | 3:11 AM

Unfortunately, my daughter has been experiencing a queen bee wanting to destroy her. The worst part about it is that this queen bee was one of her closest friends until recently. What the queen bee thought was innocent practical joking, wasn't - it embarassed my daughter to no end. It has evolved into the queen bee telling other girls not to talk to my daughter, teasing her, etc. Sadly, we live in a very small town and I work with the queen bee's mother. We have a very tight knit circle of friends, and I am worried that this will affect EVERYTHING! I have tried to talk to my daughter about growing a backbone and confronting the queen bee, but when she attempts this, the girl refuses to acknowledge her. I really don't know what to do. I know that this is part of growing up, but watching my daughter's suffering is heartbreaking. Any advice?

Brandy June 13, 2009 | 1:44 PM

My daughter has dealt with this for most of her 6th grade middle school year. It has been aweful. She has spent so much time alone (not hanging with friends) it is heart wrenching. We have involved the teachers, the parents and the principal. They are aware of the problem and even knew who the culprits were before I had to mention any names. The parents of the girls are completely blind and just plain unwilling to listen. The intervention didn't really help much. The girls aren't stupid, now they just bully her when noone is looking. The worst of it is now everytime she makes a new friend within a matter of weeks they turn her new friend against her and bring them over to the dark side. That makes them very hard to ignore. Not only do they not want to be friends with her but they don't want anyone else to be friends with her either. She has 1 friend at the moment. Atleast until the "mean girls" get ahold of her.My daughter puts on a strong face and acts like she doesn't care at school, but I can tell it has really dropped her confidence/self esteem. She is so hurt and really cautious now about becoming friends with anyone. I'm affraid she is traumatized. On the bright side, she did just make it for cheerleading!!! None of the bullies did. Practices don't start until August though, so I think she is going to have a lonely summer. Hopefully when practices start she will have a new core group of friends (fingers crossed). BTW- she is an honor roll student and all he teachers think the world of her. She is a talented singer. She has also been really blessed in the looks department ( I know all moms think that). People are constanly telling her how beautiful she is and I just can't help but think that has something to do with why some of the girls don't like her. Any advice at all would be GREATLY appreciated.

cassi March 24, 2009 | 6:16 PM

when i see the girls in the local click sepratly there realy nice but when there together they r mean

Beth Hossfeld February 28, 2009 | 1:46 PM

Simi Sanni Nwogugu's advice makes sense, as well as the tips in this article. Girls Circle is a support group model for girls 9 - 18 years old, facilitated by mothers, teachers, counselors, service providers, and many others who invest in girls' development. I want to share the good news that girls themselves have enormous capacity to address and resolve their conflicts and unhealthy interactions when they are provided with safe, structured spaces to share their concerns. It's essential that as adults we provide support to girls to empower them to resolve these problems. Whether bullying or being targeted or caught in the middle, girls are seeking recognition and connection, but need to be guided to healthy ways to relate and show leadership. As Co-Founder of our nonprofit, Girls Circle Association, I appreciate this conversation and encourage all of us to be careful to neither ignore cruelty nor label girls, but rather to actively promote their strengths and capacities to find their value through safe and healthy connections. To learn about how you can offer Girls Circles to girls in your community, visit www.girlscircle.

+ Add Comment

(required - not published)