Mean Girls – A guide to navigating them

Hey guys, it’s me, Coach Rebecca! Today I am going to be talking about mean girls. Of course, this can apply to mean boys too, but it seems we hear about many more little girls on the team harassing your daughter. Today I want to give you six tips to help your athlete build confidence when they are being harassed by a mean girl.

We were getting requests in our Sport Confidence Accelerator group on Facebook, and I figured everyone might find these tips useful.

Building Confidence when facing a mean girl

How do you take a situation that is less than ideal and actually use it to build more confidence in your daughter? Adolescent relationships are a training ground for resilience.

These are tough, we have been there + I have been there.

The first step and almost the most important is to regulate YOUR emotions. The biggest mistake you can make is getting emotionally triggered. You have to be a safe, grounded, steady place for your athlete to lean on and learn from. If her mean girls are dredging up all of your own mean girl trauma from 7th grade now is not the time to let that show. Air it out with your partner or a trusted friend, but right now we need to focus on your daughter and her mean girl.

Step number one: Regulate your emotions and feelings surrounding this type of mean girl behavior.

Believe in your daughter

Rule number two is to believe in your daughter. Like I said before, these adolescent relationships are a training ground for adult relationships and resilience in general. Give her your trust that she might be able to solve the problem mean girl herself. Now that means you can’t swoop in and tell the coach, tell the parents, send some nasty emails, send some sweet emails, buy them some brownies, you can’t do whatever you think will solve the problem.

Don’t take this learning experience away from her by swooping in with your superhero cape and saving the day. Instead, trust her. Believe that she is going to save her own day from the mean girl and be able to work this out. She is resourceful, she is kind, and she can communicate with people. She might have been in some challenging or uncomfortable situations before and she has navigated through them.

Just because we trust her and believe in her doesn’t mean that we are just abandoning her in this mean girl problem alone. The foundation is just believing that she can get through it.

Be her role model, maybe her mean girl has a mean mom you can use to show her how to react. You don’t have to let everyone in, and you don’t need to trust everybody but you do need to be kind. You do need to forgive but it is not for her, it is for yourself. Let’s be the kind of person that kills a mean girl with kindness, and chooses to not get wrapped up in the drama.

Listen to and acknowledge her feelings

This is EXTREMELY important, listen and acknowledge her feelings.

I want you to remove these from your vocabulary

  • “Oh, don’t let her get to you”
  • “It’s not a big deal”
  • “Don’t worry you are fine”
  • “You are going to get through this”

She might be fine and she will get through this but that’s not how she feels right now. She is mad, she is angry, and she feels embarrassed. So what you want to do in these situations is just listen, listen, listen. Listen way more than you speak about these conversations about mean girls.

Empathize with her, “oh my gosh, I have been there! It happened to me when. I was your age. I totally understand why you are upset and angry and it is so okay to feel that way. Rather than being like “you are fine, buck up”, that isn’t going to help. Being sad is okay, being mad is okay, and she needs to feel like she can feel those feelings around you and like you care and understand.


Now that you have trusted her to start navigating the mean girls, and you have validated her feelings by listening, you can start asking questions.

Now, this isn’t the mean girl interrogation committee, this is how you can guide her to solving her own problems. Your goal is NOT to give her advice. I actually would prefer if you gave her zero advice unless she specifically asks for it. You have to stay at the baseline of neutral and curious.

What do you think? How did that make you feel? Do you like how you responded? What do you think you can say next time? What do you think might fix this situation? Just stay curious and non-guiding. Now here is the kicker, after you ask a question you have to pause.

Pausing after asking a question about her mean girl even if it takes 27 minutes for her to answer is SO important! Sing a song in your head, sit on your hands, and do whatever you have to do to just wait and listen. She just might surprise you with what she can come up with for dealing with her mean girl.

It is more important to plant that question in her mind, even if she doesn’t answer right away, planting that seed allows her to think about it later and without pressure. Remember, you believe in her and you trust her to get through his mean girl drama.

When to give mean girl advice

What if she does ask you specifically for advice? What if she asks “Mom what do you think I should do?”, DON’T TELL HER! I know this is so hard but there is so much more power in sharing a story of what you have been through and done, rather than just saying “here this is what you need to do”. Our job as parents is to let them experience the situations and lessons that are going to allow them to become more resilient and more effective in interpersonal relationships.

If she does ask, here is what I might say instead. “Oh gosh, you know what this reminds me of”, and fill in a story that she can derive a lesson or example. Let her know that she cannot control what people do and don’t do, she can always ask them to stop doing the thing that hurts her, but the main goal is for her to be confident enough that she is fine either way.

Those real-life situations and conversations, and those moments you can be vulnerable with her will make all the difference. You don’t always have the answers, we are all just humans doing the best we can with the relationships that we are in. You can share stories of what you did to ease the tension between you and your mean girl. “I went to another beam if she was bugging me”, you know things like that can make a big difference in the day-to-day.

So rather than give advice just share personal stories and guide her that way. You never know, you just might learn to see a new perspective too.

Praise progress and small wins

My final tip is to praise progress and small wins. So many moms that are in the Perform Happy community have learned that we only praise progress and effort. Everything she does is even just a little better than last time, PRAISE!

If she was melting down in the car on Thursday and on Friday she was only crying a little, we praise that. “Hey, I am proud of your ability to control your emotions a little better today than yesterday”. We love to throw out those little breadcrumbs of “I see you, I see the progress”.

When it comes to the mean girl you can say “I noticed you being kind to the person that was giving you a hard time, that is AWESOME!” “good job on removing yourself and getting on a different beam than her”. As moms being a kind and good human is so much more important than medals, trophies, and scholarships. Knowing our kids are going to be the ones that can hold their heads up high, forgive others, be direct, and kind, and not let others push them down.

Being able to stay confident in the face of a mean girl is a skill a lot of grown women haven’t mastered yet. This is tough stuff, but if you can take this mean girl situation and turn it into a learning moment for your daughter she will be much better off.

What else can we offer you?

If any of this resonates with you or helps you, we have plenty more where this came from. If your kiddo is struggling with mental blocks I want to invite you to our FREE webinar! Head to today to learn how to help your daughter fight through her mental blocks.

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