• Other Friendship Advice

My middle school daughter’s ex-friend is jealous and mean

Published: July 14, 2016 | By | 4 Replies Continue Reading
A mom wonders how to support her daughter whose ex-friend is mean to her.



My daughter is in 7th grade and used to be the most popular girl in school. She is sweet, kind and nice to everyone. This year many girls “matured” while she stayed small and has not yet developed.

Her best friend, who has always been a bit jealous, pulled away from her and started hanging out with a different group. She managed to start rumors so this new group started harassing my daughter.

The new group is always nice to everyone (to their faces) but is now getting others to ignore my daughter. Her ex-best friend will seek out ANY new friends that my daughter tries to become friends with in order to get them to also ignore her.

I’ve approached the school—who lets these kids walk around like Gods—and they have done nothing. One of these girls got caught writing a horrible letter about a teacher and they were going to suspend her but they decided she needed sympathy vs. punishment. I spoke with her mother about it and she went out and bought her a kitten.

I’m so sick of seeing everyone focus on the needs of this bully vs. the torture of my daughter. I’m worried how things will be moving forward next year as well. I’ve tried just about everything to help, and know we create a great family environment, but find that my daughter (AND I) are dejected and angry. I don’t know what else to do. Help!!!!

Signed, Emma


Hi Emma,

I’m sorry your daughter is in so much pain. Even under the best of circumstances, middle school friendships can be difficult. As you suggest, with the onslaught of adolescence and girls developing at different rates, these years are prime for shifts in friendship groups at school. Hopefully, the summer will offer an opportunity for time and distance between the girls.

As much as possible, try to maintain some emotional distance from the drama amongst the girls, too. It will help you be even better equipped to help your daughter regain her self-confidence.

The summer months could be a good time to hook your daughter up with a therapist for a few sessions to help her strategize ways to deal with her former friend and nurture other friendships before the start of school. An adolescent therapist can also meet with both of you to help you support your daughter in the most effective way, as well as be a liaison with the school and guidance counselor if necessary.

In the mean time, my suggestions:

  • Continue to focus on empathizing with your daughter so she feels validated. I’d back off on the details other than listening.
  • Be cautious about contacting the girl’s mother unless there is a provable, overt act by the girl against your daughter, as this often causes mean girl behavior to escalate.
  • Have your daughter concentrate on friendships outside of school through activities, sports, scouting and in your neighborhood.

Hopefully with some professional counseling, your daughter will be prepared to start eighth grade confidently and with a safety net in her guidance counselor, if necessary.

Signed, Amy Feld

*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.

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Category: OTHER ADVICE, Teen friendships

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  1. JAM says:

    Hi Emma,

    You said your daughter is sweet and nice and kind. That can be a hard thing to be in a tough world, if she doesn’t know how to preserve herself in healthy ways. She may need to both nurture her own kindness and sweetness, while at the same time, develop healthy boundaries. In other words, have her do things she likes that help foster her own personality and interests (both alone and social). And at home, she can practice imagining a special place of peace in her mind (like a garden, beach, etc.) and drawing boundaries around it. We use heart bubbles in our house to help our kids develop boundaries. That way, she can start learning to filter: let good things in, keep as much negative, untrue, unkind stuff out (help her identify what are lies and what is truth). If something toxic gets in(which clearly this ex-friend stuff has), she can work on feeling the pain, letting it go (up in a hot air balloon etc.), visualize healing by spending time in her peaceful place in her mind (the garden, beach, etc.), and closing her eyes and feeling love, peace, truth, self acceptance, emotional support and other positive emotions of your choice (she should practice feeling each one – you can lead with your voice until she can start doing this on her own, with eyes closed and deep breathing). Do this every day. These emotions and healthy truths become very solid in children over time and help to greatly counteract the false toxicity they often get hit with in school. The more she practices feeling positive emotions, the more she will become her own best friend and she will start attracting healthier friends as well, who generally share the same energy and positivity.
    If her ex-friend has always been jealous, it sounds like the separation is a blessing. Especially since the ex-friend seems to be acting out in very negative ways with her newfound “friends.”
    Help your daughter continue to seek out new friends (it sounds like she’s seeking out authentic friends, which is good). Be a kind hostess to potential friends. Not all kids will be a healthy match for your daughter, so encourage her to keep trying, but take breaks when she gets overwhelmed.
    One of the most important things is to help her grow her mindset from feeling victimized and helpless, to feeling very good about herself and able to control her inner self and stand up for herself in respectful ways (again boundaries help here). She needs to respectfully and reasonably not let others intimidate and bully her. The more joy and control and confidence she feels on the inside, the more she’ll attract friends with much less effort, and the less she’ll feel desperate and attracted to unhealthy kids. Her power to be happy lies inside her, and she needs to learn to keep that power, not give it to someone else who seems to have a “stronger personality.”
    You can use a therapist, but specialists and good therapists are hard to find. Self help and bibliotherapy on teen emotions, self love, etc. and practicing self kindness can be the best route to go to make lasting changes.
    And forget the “cool” stuff. There’s nothing cool about being popular for shallow reasons. Plus the social scene changes often. It’s gang and herd mentality for awhile with pre-teens and teens. And, unfortunately for some, it lasts even into adulthood.
    If she hangs in there, she’ll find a sweet, true friend or two, which is far more valuable than a gaggle of shallow, fickle, friends.
    Jen M.

  2. PeachPie says:

    Having been a teacher in this age group, I was often astonished at the inaccurate perspective parents sometimes had about a situation and their child’s position in it. Keep in mind that you are not actually there to witness what goes on at school. It is likely your child is no angel, regardless of what you’ve been told. It is likely that the situation is not exactly as you perceive it.

    Also, I’d nix hierarchical, competitive-sounding statements and thoughts, such as about your child having been “the most popular girl in the school.” On top one day means it will be someone else’s turn the next day (with your own child taking a turn lower on the social strata herself). It’s not a nice game, whether your daughter is on the bottom or the top of it that year. Instead, focus on helping her try out different interests and making your home hospitable to new friends- regardless of their “popularity.”

    Middle school can be rough but it’s also training ground for the children to start learning to navigate the social world on their own. Better to coach your daughter from the sidelines. At that age, mom going up to school and calling parents over her daughter having a falling out with her peers is likely to mark her to her peers as immature and certainly won’t score her any cool points. Good luck.

    • Christina says:

      I can assure you that this sort of behavior occurs in this age range, and beyond. I can also assure you that teachers can be among the most unaware of the social dynamics occurring in their own classrooms. Antisocial “popular” girls like this can are very skilled at hiding relational aggression from teachers and parents. The kids know exactly what’s going on but are afraid to say or do anything for fear of becoming the next target. It’s abusive and disturbing behavior yet most adults just let it go as long as their kid isn’t the target. These are the kids whose cruelty leads to suicides and school shootings. It’s not something to dismiss.

      I know a 7th grade girl who has been doing this exact same thing to her ex-friend for 2 years, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. She tries to sabotage any friendship the ex-friend has or even could have. She tells everyone even from other schools in the city to not become friends with the ex-friend. Luckily in this case the ex-friend is also “popular” (for good positive reasons) and has healthy friendships with kids who don’t fall for the girl’s tactics. But it’s been very hard on the ex-friend nonetheless. I can’t imagine the emotional torture she’d be going through if she didn’t have the support system she has. It’s truly scary what kids are capable of doing to their own “friends.”

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