How To Deal With Mean Girls

Mean Girls are like bumble bees. They come and they go, but when they come, they’re looking to sting.

I have been stung by Mean Girls, and I have also done the stinging. What’s more, for the last 14 summers of my life, I’ve had the unique experience of living amongst many, many young girls at an overnight camp in Northern Michigan. Most of these girls have been terrific, but it’s only natural to get a few mean ones here and there.

If Mean Girls are brought to our attention at camp, it’s easy to manage them because the close, camp environment allows us to do so. But as we all know, Mean Girls can’t always be contained and if your own little girl comes home, choking back tears because she was the victim of a Mean Girl, it’s going to hurt, both her and you.

You, of course, know she will survive—and be stronger for it—but telling her that won’t matter because as far as she’s concerned, she has NO FRIENDS and the last thing she wants to hear is that tired ass speech.

That speech should be given before a Mean Girl surfaces; that way your girl isn’t surprised if it happens. Conversations need to happen early (and often) so your girl knows how to deal:

For starters, kids need to understand that there are Mean Girls and there are girls who can be mean. There’s a difference.

Mean Girls are rough action, though there’s usually something behind the bravado: insecurities, neglect, bad stuff. These girls are unhappy and their way of coping is to project onto others. They are looking for validation as they build themselves up while breaking others down.

A Mean Girl can get a whole group to turn because they said so. The first Mean Girl I ever met was in elementary school. I still remember how I felt when I turned on my friends because the Mean Girl willed me to do so—and I also remember how I felt when she got those same friends to turn on me.

But she let me back in, eventually. She even invited me to sleep over! (I didn’t sleep all night though because I was too busy GAGGING over how gross her sheets smelled, and I couldn’t FOR THE LIFE OF ME figure out how the hell someone so mean (with sheets that smelled like ass) became a part of our group.

But not all mean girls are “Mean Girls.” THAT girl, (up there) she was a Mean Girl. Some girls, though, are just being mean.

Unfortunately, that’s part of being a girl and part of growing up. Well, it shouldn’t be! Well, it is. Secrets, dirty looks. passive aggressive, triangulating behavior—all that mean s**t is pretty normal. Sorry.

It’s also normal for young girls to firmly place themselves in one group. They are looking to belong somewhere. That’s understandable. I’m all for being in a group of friends that is comfortable and safe. Still, it’s also not a horrible idea to spread out a little bit, or as I like to say: Diversify.

Diversification in friendship is basically reaching out and making all kinds of friends, from all different groups. It promotes variety and it insulates the child. She’s covered. She’s covered so she’s empowered. She’s confident because she has options. She has lots of friends, different friends. And if Mean Girls start buzzing around, experience has shown the confident girl isn’t usually the one they come for.

And even if they do, does your girl care?

No. She’s covered. She has other friends to hang with—friends that don’t suck—so until that buzzing subsides, she’s outtie.

And it usually subsides. But if it doesn’t, and the Mean Girls comes after her, your girl needs to make it CLEAR that she’s not interested.

That’s something to work on at home. Role playing is very helpful. Keep things basic, but effective. Arm your girl so she knows what to say: “I think you’re great, I just don’t think we click. I’m going to play with some of my other friends today” or, as my older one likes to say: “I think you’re mean and I don’t need it.”

Mean Girls aren’t used to being confronted. They don’t know how to react, so they usually back down.

Moving on and away from Mean Girls is a lot easier if other friends are already in place, especially because there’s a BIG chance the friends surrounding the Mean Girls won’t be joining. And that’s OK. That’s just where they need to be right now. Maybe they will grow out of it and maybe they won’t.

That’s not your kid’s problem, or yours. Your girl has moved on. Diversification in friendship is nothing personal, it’s just good sense.  Better to have 4 quarters than one dollar because if you lose a quarter, you still have $0.75, but if you lose the dollar, you’re screwed.

And that’s so NOT fetch.



  1. Julie on May 5, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Strong, powerful message!

    • Robyn on May 5, 2016 at 11:27 am

      We are trying! Love that you are here. Thank you!

  2. Elizabeth on May 5, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    And the mean-girling starts so young 🙁

    • Robyn on May 5, 2016 at 7:01 pm

      It sure does start early! I’m shocked at how early it starts now. It makes me sad. Next think you know it will be a newborn baby being mean to the doctor that pulled her out! Messed up her hair! 🙂

    • Cherrimae on May 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

      I’ll say. They grow monsters now in first grade. I swear it’s the food. The food coloring can’t be good and the kids eating junk are more aggressive I swear than the kids eating healthy food. Ours didn’t eat for six months at school saying she didn’t have time until we discovered she was being ATTACKED for opting out of school lunches – as was another child. We were feeding her big breakfast and early dinners to keep up. It’s the saddest thing ever and the school does not stop it. Awful!!

    • Robyn on May 9, 2016 at 9:28 am

      You know, Cherrimae, it’s funny you say it’s the food because I wonder if that has something to do with it…? That’s so interesting! All the hormones and chemicals are doing weird things to kids these days. My young girl campers are developing way earlier than they did when I was a kid! You have made an interesting point, and you might not have even meant to! You tell your girl to find herself some friends so she can insulate from mean people and if that doesn’t work, tell me where you live and I will come there and take care of BIZ!! XOXO Thank you for being here! I hope you come back, you’re smart. 🙂 I like it!

  3. Lisa on May 5, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    Spot on!!! Great read!!!! ❤️❤️❤️

    • Robyn on May 5, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      I am so happy you enjoyed it. Thank you being here! It means a lot. 🙂

  4. Beth on May 5, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Great message!

    • Robyn on May 7, 2016 at 11:12 am

      Thank you so much, Beth. I’m so happy you’re here and not just because you appreciated the post but because your email address is quite possibly the greatest thing I have ever seen. I now have email address envy.

  5. Kay Bratt on May 6, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Great post. I’ve dealt with mean girls all my life. And when my own daughter started having to deal with them, it made all those bad experiences come rushing back.

    But another thing to remember is that mean girls usually grow up to be mean women. While living in China, there were several expat cliques and women behaving badly. I remember going on vacation with several families, and one specific woman always singled me out for her sarcasm, veiled insults, and leaving me out. It got so bad I was in tears one evening, but I refused to engage.

    My daughter was only around 9 but later, SHE comforted me. We talked about how some people are miserable with their own lives so it comes out in their behavior toward others. Then we went out to a market and picked out a nice souvenir for the next day, which I was dreading.

    But no one in the women’s group said a word about the button I wore on my shirt when I showed up. It said, “Mean People Suck”. They all knew what it was about. I didn’t have to explain. And that particular mean girl/woman…. she kept her mouth shut for the rest of the trip.

    • Robyn on May 7, 2016 at 11:10 am

      That is AMAZING. She got it, and you didn’t have to say a word…which is kind of ironic being that you’re a writer! Or maybe it’s perfect because you are a writer. That you used the written word to take care of business. I like it and I like you. Your stories always have the most satisfying endings. It makes you a good writer and a good person. For realz. XOXOXO

  6. Sadie on May 15, 2016 at 7:32 pm


    This is a message every girl needs to hear. Mean girls suck.

    • Robyn on May 15, 2016 at 8:20 pm

      Preach right back at ya, sister! I agree. Mean girls suck bad. Ain’t got no time for them, now or ever.
      Love that you’re here. You totally get it! XOXOXO Hope to see you back!