How Do I Help My Child Disengage from Mean Girls?

Updated on January 18, 2011
K.B. asks from Dulles, VA
6 answers

When playing a game at the park, the 1st grade girl took her "treasure chest" away and began holding it so the other girls(my 3rd grader and her 3rd grade sister) could not play. Her sister took turns with her holding it too. My daughter tried to use her words to resolve a conflict, but these girls don't behave and it made them more stubborn. Because the younger girl hits and then lies about people, I was right there to see it all.

I tried to get my daughter to walk away, to play something esle, and to ignore her. I explained as it was happening that the girls were trying to make her mad on purpose and just being mean. finally I convinced her to leave the park. She cried in the car which is something she almost never does.

What else can I say or do to teach my daughter to walk away? These girls used to be our neighbors and the oldest acts normal when we have just her over, but horrid if any other child is around, including at school. I told my daugther she is not going to change and we need to just accept she is not a friend. We are not going to socialize with the family anymore or babysit. When this school year ends, I am not going to drive the older girl to scouts anymore. I told her we can be polite, say hello, and move on.
There is no reason to be mean or hold a grudge because sometimes people don't stay friends forever. We need to focus on the kids who do like my daughter. My daughter is totally forgiving and wants to give people chance after chance which I suspect is why these kids feel free to be mean at times.

Am i handling this the best way? Afterwards, I picked up a family of three kids who spent 4 drama free hours with us. They laughed and played while I cleaned the house without once having any conflicts.

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So What Happened?

Part of the problem is these girls are the ones always available to play(now we know why). I am going to take her to different parks so they won't be running out when we pull up to play. They live literally by the park.
Also, because we are not perfect and we work on relationships, maybe we taught her this to a bad extreme???

More Answers


answers from Philadelphia on

You are in for a long hard battle with this problem. I have a now 15 year old, and she has gone through 4 stages of this problem.... 1st-2nd grade, middle school, and now high school...

We can't decide who our kids play with, or who they are friends with. We can only limit their access to the bad influences, but sooner or later, they will have to learn to make these decisions for themselves. The kids I tried to stop her from befriending, she just talks to them at school, where I have no control.

It is a hard thing to handle, you know these people are no good for your child, yet until they realize it, you just have to sit and watch, and be the leaning post when the friendship fails.

Sorry to say it... there really is nothing to do except to keep re-teaching your own child what is right and wrong, and how to move away from these people when they decide they have had enough.

Good luck M.... I know exactly how you feel!

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answers from New York on

If your daughter insist on continuing to play with these girls then maybe she feels more comfortable with them then we would guess. I am so impressed by her willingness to keep trying! Look at it as practice for all the unknown mean girls she will meet when she hits middle school and high school. Let her practice dealing with them, encourage her to speak up for herself, and report hitting to an adult. Ask her if you can role play situations and then encourage her to talk in a clear, brave firm voice as you "pick" on her. If she can learn to stand up to these girls (I think she cannot completely avoid them if they live close and go to her school etc) And she cannot avoid ever meeting other mean girls so let her practice with the ones she knows so well and is obviously not that terrified of. If she can learn to be a little more assertive and know when to walk away and how to talk to them then what a great skill she will have learned!! Give her praise for not giving up, I'm sure I would not have been so determined to keep trying! Keep in touch with the teachers at school to see what is happening there....

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answers from Birmingham on

I think you handled the situation wonderfully but honestly, I wouldn't continue to drive the older girls (if they are ones being mean) anywhere, any longer. When I needed to end a carpool thing I was in one time with another mother I couldn't think of anything major to say so I simply told her that my daughter and I had decided to start doing the ride alone so we could enjoy the "alone" time to talk. I told her I was sorry but at the end of the week we would be making that change. She didn't seem upset, not happy, but ok with what I had to say.

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answers from Austin on

This is one of the hardest parts of being a parent. Watching our children be mistreated. Your job is to just guide her about standing up for herself. Teaching her she can ask for help from an adult, or best of all, remove herself from these people. She deserves to be treated fairly and with respect. Let her know she has to take charge of that. It takes practice, but she can do it. She needs to put her foot down and tell them to stop. And if they do not listen then she cannot trust them.

This is one of those lessons SHE needs to learn on her own. If she is being physically hurt you can step in, but the rest is her life lesson. Allow her to learn this on her own, if not now, she will fall into this trap for the rest of her life. 3rd grade is a lot easier than middle school, high school, college, work, and marriage.. to still be dealing with it..

Get a copy of of Queen Bees and Wanna Bees.. It will offer lots of good suggestions.

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answers from New York on

Although I wish you weren't going through this dilemma, I'm glad to read the question/answers of this thread. I'm in a similar situation with my daughter who is in first grade. There are a few classmates that refuse to be nice to her. It breaks my heart when she tells me. I tell her to talk back in a strong voice so they are aware that what they are doing/saying is not OKAY. I'm pretty certain she does not talk back, she is so sweet and always so nice that I think people know they can take advantage of her. My husband thinks I worry for nothing and tells me that she has to learn on her own and it's just a phase of life. That never helps me:) I have followed up with her teacher on her interactions at school, but she always says that there are no problems. I'm comtemplating enrolling her in Tae-Kwon-Do to help her be more assertive and self confirdent, any advice on that?

I think you have gotten some great support and advice from other moms. It definitely helps knowing others are in a similar situation. I'm telling my daughter to concentrate on the friends that are nice and fun to be around and ignore the ones that hurt her feelings. Luckily it hasn't gotten physical. Will follow this thread. Thanks for posing the question.


answers from Columbus on

Ugh. I wish I had some super wise words to help you and your daughter through this. I don't. I went through girl bullying as a young girl and it really had a huge impact on many years of my life. I did NOT want my daughter to have to go through what I did, so I started reading. The absolutle best book I found, was "Odd Girl Out", by Rachel Simmons. I highly recommend you read it. When my daughter is a little older, I will have her read it, too. It's not a cure for mean girls, but it will help you both to understand a little better. It will help you both make better decisions and hopefully, give your daughter some confidence and insight, so she doesn't feel tortured.
As for right now, keeping your distance is good, since this isn't just an isolated incident. Surround yourselves with the kids that get along well and are nice to each other. As your daughter gets older, it will be easier to explain things better. I wish you the best of luck!!

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