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.

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A former Mean Girl speaks

According to Simi Sanni Nwogugu, an admitted former mean girl who is now a happily married mother of two, an executive coach and the founder and CEO of HOD Consulting, a diversity consulting firm, meanness is sometimes a shield used by the "mean girl" to mask insecurity and often used to combat a perceived threat.

"My advice to any girl experiencing bullying from another girl is to first recognize what the bullying is about. There's probably something about her that is threatening to the mean girl – perhaps she is very smart, good-looking, well-mannered, a favorite with teachers or gifted in some way. Or perhaps she just exudes weakness," says Nwogugu who believes that mean girls can smell fear and weakness in their targets because that feeds their ego. "My advice would be to not rise to the bait, but not be a doormat either. If attacked by mean girls, realize that there is something about you that makes her insecure or feeds her ego and confront it. If you're being a doormat, stop it and get a backbone."

Nwogugu also advises girls being bullied to have a conversation with the mean girl, preferably when her mean friends are absent so her temptation to "act up" is also absent.  "Offer a gesture of friendship but in a way that doesn't seem fearful or desperate," says Ms. Nwogugu. "If there is something threatening about you, try to eliminate the threat by having a candid conversation with the mean girl about it. This is easier said than done, but it is surprising how quickly I came to respect the girls that stood up to me and have formed friendships with them that last till today."

Stop the Bullying campaignAn American Girl Chrissa

To help tweens and even younger girls counteract the menacing behaviors of bullies, the American Girl Doll company has taken up the challenge with their Stop the Bullying campaign to shine a spotlight on it, bringing it forward as a topic of conversation between girls and their parents, girls and their friends, and between families and the schools.

Their American Girl doll for 2009 Chrissa and her nonfiction companion advice book, Stand Up for Yourself and the Chrissa Stands Strong DVD show how one fictional girl finds the courage to stand strong and speak out against relational aggression or bullying and to hopefully inspire real girls to find ways to handle challenging people in their own lives.

At the Chrissa web site (, girls can take part in an inspirational pledge that they can sign and pass along to friends while seeing an interactive map of all the girls across the country who are standing together to stop bullying.

How have you or your family dealt with mean girl cliques? Share your comments below!

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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.

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