• Other Friendship Advice

How should a mom handle her 8-year-old daughter’s problem with mean girls?

Published: May 25, 2016 | By | 9 Replies Continue Reading
How a mom should help address an 8-year-old daughter’s friendship problems depends on the situation.



My almost 8-year-old daughter has been coming home and telling me that a group of girls she thought were her friends were ignoring her when she tried to play with them. Then a few days later when she tried again and they ran away screaming.

I think she tried talking to one of them but they said “No, they weren’t.” It’s been really hard on her and me, too, since I went through something similar in high school. Also, one of the girls is a daughter of one of my friends. Do I say something? I’m not sure how to bring it up without losing a friend of my own.

My daughter has been trying to play with other girls, which I think is working out so far, but she is still crushed.

Signed, Pam


Hi Pam,

I’m sorry to hear your 8-year-old daughter is struggling with her friends but glad to hear she has found other girls with whom to play. In a situation like this, at her age, parental intervention depends mostly on the details. If the girls had simply been ignoring your daughter, I’d recommend bolstering your daughter’s esteem from the sidelines. Since the girls ran away screaming, this escalates friendship preference to overt unkind behavior.

At ages seven and eight, one Alpha girl is likely spearheading the isolation, a leader who the other girls are following. I would speak to the teacher to get her perspective on the situation because she has invaluable information about the social dynamics in the classroom. She can intervene in a way that avoids placing attention on your daughter, such as talking to the whole class about inclusiveness and kindness.

I wouldn’t talk to your friend based on what you’ve written. Often times parental intervention escalates conflict between kids and create an unnecessary wedge in your friendship. You may want to schedule an activity for the four of you at some point in the near future to help the girls reestablish their friendship, unless your daughter is uncomfortable with the idea. If the other girl seems to be the instigator, I would hold off until you see how the next few weeks play out.

I hope things get better for your daughter soon.

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.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Helping children deal with friendship problems

Comments (9)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Donna says:

    So sorry your daughter is going through this. My daughter is 12 years old and often has to deal with girls that take advantage of her kind and non-confrontative manner.

    The way I explain it to my daughter is that girls act like that when they feel insecure about themselves, and looking at the situation from that perspective makes the girl who is bullying her look somewhat pathetic and sad. She needs to be friends with people who are kind to her and make her happy. Otherwise, they are not really her friend (and who wants to be around someone that makes you sad?!)

    Hard lesson to learn, but if you keep reminding her of what she deserves in a friendship, she may start to realize that she doesn’t want to be THEIR friend.

    I wish you both all the best!

  2. Jaimie says:

    I have an 8 year old boy as well as two other children. I really recommend inviting other girls outside this group for plays area to bolster your daughter’s self esteem. Help her to find nice girls outside of the group and then perhaps initiate play dates with 1 girl at a time from the old group so they can have one on one time and see your daughter for the fun, nice girl she is away from the pack. Good luck.

  3. lottie says:

    Morning all,

    Just reading AW reply reminds me of an old friends daughter who was about age 10 at the time.

    They used to go on a school bus and a small boy was being bullied by the school thug also a boy. Everybody was afraid of him. My friends daughter was very in your face even when she was 10. She was a lovable madam.

    She saw what happened at the school bus and went to the thug punched then kneed him at the same time.Action taken. All was sorted. The headmistress ignored a complaint from the thugs mum. I am not saying your daughter do anything like that but it just reminded me of the incident from 20 yrs ago.

    The daughter is very well known and respected in the UK for her horse eventing skills.End of story.Take care Lottie

    • CeCe says:

      Not advocating this behavior but I highly despise bullies!

      I admire a girl/young woman/woman who stand up for others. If I had a daughter, I could see her doing the same thing! YOU GO, GIRL!

  4. AW says:

    I’ve experienced this in recent years with my 12 year old daughter and especially 9 year old son. With my son, we have a neighbor boy of the same age and I was friends with his mom. He regularly teased and berated my son but I told him to just avoid the boy. One day, the boy purposely injured my son and then mocked him in front of the neighborhood kids as he limped home in tears. I approached the boy’s mom who I thought was a friend and she went completely nuts on me and claimed that it was all my son’s fault. Relations have been frosty ever since and it turns out we weren’t really friends to begin with as we should have been able to work it out as adults. In the future, I’ve decided to teach my kids to avoid problem kids because this experience was so bitter for me. She ended up shunning me from our community and making life in a small town pretty unbearable.

    All that to say, if I were in your shoes, I would encourage your daughter to play with different girls and keep her distance from the other girls. She wouldn’t want to be friends with them if that’s how they’re acting anyway!

  5. lottie says:

    Hello Pam,

    How terrible for both of you. It must be like a dagger through your heart to see your daughter hurting. You really do have my sympathy. I agree with the others on all counts.

    It is years since I was that age but do remember people being left out,me included. Even on sites like this or similar people can feel left out for no other reason than the bully girls can be smart (so they think )with words.We are lucky Irene nips things in the bud and takes no messing.Like already stated there will be a ring leader …the bully girl and weaker girls fit in,maybe incase it might be their turn next to be bullied.

    It is a great idea to try and arrange a foursome with your friend giving the girls time to have fun. These mean girls very often grow into horrible monsters in adult life.When I see horrible behaviour in adults I always thank my lucky stars that I don’t live next door to them! Take care and very best wishes ,it will blow over eventually. Lottie

  6. Jennie says:

    I empathize completely. My daughter, who is 8, has experienced the same types of issues this year.

    What I’ve found is these situations ebb and flow, so try to take a step back and observe how things are over the next few weeks. Some days are bad and others are good. They fight and the next day it’s forgotten.

    I think talking to the teacher is a good idea – she needs the heads up its happening. You might also mention it to your friend — if want to know if my daughter was being mean to other kids!

    Take a deep breath. It will pass.


  7. Salstarat says:

    This type of behaviour is a form of passive/aggressive bullying and it is, indeed, very disturbing to see girls so playing the “Mean Girl” role at such a young age! This type of vindictive, negative behaviour needs to be addressed and you should, most definitely, report it to your daughter’s teacher as well as the School Counsellor (if you have one). I am not sure where you are from but in Australia there are very strict rules and programs relating to anti-bullying in schools (Primary and High Schools alike. Usually such behaviour by girls so young is “mimicked” from the cruel behaviour of older sisters or watching older girls in their school behave in such a way and (sadly) get away with it.

    You stated that one of the girls in the group is the daughter of a friend of yours so you could start by approaching your friend and enquire if there is a reason why your daughter is being victimised and ostracised by the group in which her daughter is a part of. If she is a true friend, she would make an effort to speak to her daughter (on your behalf) and find out who is the Alpha girl in the group initiating the callous behaviour. Perhaps the teacher needs to address or re-address the issues of bullying in the classroom and talk about virtues such as respect and empathy.

    If all else fails, you may need to consider moving your daughter to another school. I know it is a drastic step but sometimes such behaviour becomes “entrenched” and being the subject of persistent cowardly bullying will undermine your daughter’s fragile self esteem at such a crucial age of her development. The worst thing you can do is do nothing! You must act NOW and ensure that this behaviour does NOT continue or remove your daughter from the situation.

    Pull your daughter aside and let her know that she is a lovely, beautiful child and that she is NOT AT FAULT! Let her know that, in this world, there are people who are kind and people who are cruel – if people CHOOSE to be cruel and unkind, then THEY are the ones with the problem. Let her know that she will come across many people who are kind and cruel as she goes through life … the important thing is for her to remain a good, kind person herself and rise above the petty mean spirited behaviour of others.

Leave a Reply