Tips on How to Deal with Mean Girls at School

High school can be a challenging time for many teenagers, particularly when it comes to dealing with mean girls and bullying. Unfortunately, these issues are all too common, and they can be incredibly damaging to a young girl's self-esteem and mental health. If you or someone you know is struggling with these issues, here are some tips to help cope with mean girls and bullying in school.

Understand That It's Not Your Fault.

The first and most important thing to remember is that bullying is never your fault. No matter what a bully may say or do, it's important to remember that their actions are a reflection of them, not you. Many times, bullies will try to make you feel like you're the problem, but that's simply not true. You are not responsible for someone else's behavior, and you don't have to take it personally.

Don't Respond With Violence

While it's tempting to want to fight back against a bully, responding with violence will only make things worse. Not only is it dangerous, but it could also lead to more bullying or even getting in trouble with the school. Instead, try to keep a level head and respond with kindness or humor. Sometimes, it can be helpful to simply walk away from a situation and take some time to cool off.

Find Support From Friends and Family

One of the best ways to cope with mean girls and bullying is to surround yourself with supportive friends and family members. Talk to your parents, siblings, or trusted adults about what you're going through. They may be able to offer you some helpful advice, or just be there to listen and support you. If you don't feel comfortable talking to someone you know, there are also many support groups and hotlines available for those who are experiencing bullying.

Build Your Confidence and Self-Esteem

Bullies often target those who they perceive as weak or vulnerable, so it's important to build up your confidence and self-esteem. Try to focus on the things you're good at and the positive aspects of yourself. Surround yourself with positive people who uplift and support you. Exercise, practice mindfulness, and engage in activities that make you feel good about yourself. The more confident and self-assured you are, the less likely a bully will be to bother you.

Report the Bullying to a Trusted Adult

It's important to report any bullying that you experience or witness to a trusted adult, whether it's a teacher, counselor, or parent. Schools have strict policies in place to protect students from bullying, and they take these issues very seriously. By reporting the bullying, you're not only standing up for yourself, but you're also helping to create a safer environment for everyone at the school. Remember, you don't have to suffer in silence.

Stay Positive and Focused on Your Goals

When you're dealing with mean girls and bullying, it can be easy to lose sight of your goals and aspirations. However, it's important to stay focused on the things that are important to you, whether that's your grades, extracurricular activities, or plans for the future. By staying positive and focused on your goals, you can help to counteract the negative effects of bullying and keep moving forward.

Practice Self-Care

It's important to take care of yourself both physically and emotionally when you're dealing with mean girls and bullying. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. Additionally, engage in activities that help you to relax and unwind, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature. Taking care of yourself will help you to feel more resilient and better equipped to handle the challenges that come your way.

Set Boundaries and Stick to Them

If you're dealing with a mean girl or bully, it's important to set boundaries so that your adversary understands that you're busy with other activities like schoolwork, clubs and sports, and that there isn't time for unnecessary drama.

Photo by Sin on Unsplash

How to (Almost) Always Get Your Way

OK, we’re not talking about coercion, persuasion or -- yikes! -- temper tantrums. But if you want to get someone on your side in any given situation, there are some effective (and ethical!) tactics you can use to sway it your way. We’ve tidied it up into an art form, right here.

“I want my parents to let me stay out an hour later on the weekends. Is that so much to ask?”

The Art of Accepting as Is

Whether you’re looking for a later curfew, more allowance or fill-in-the-blank-here, the first step is to do ... nothing. Your parents know whatever privileges you’re after, right? If not, go ahead and ask. But once you’ve asked, do not bring it up again for at least 30 days. At that time, calmly ask again.

Repeat this pattern until they eventually agree. And the only reason they’re likely to go for it is because you didn’t hassle them. You demonstrated maturity, patience and acceptance of their decisions. Works like magic!

“This one girl in our group snubs me, and it makes me uneasy. I want her to be nice!”

The Art of Attitude Adjustment
First off, we know it’s tough, but never take anyone else’s attitude personally -- even if it comes off that way. You really don’t know what insecurities or other issues this girl might have, so approach the situation from a place of non-judgment.

Also, remember that no one can make you feel uncomfortable. This is tricky too, but how you react to anything is always your choice. Turn this around by adjusting your demeanor. Relax, and treat her the same as you would like her to act toward you. Start out by subtly smiling and nodding at her. As long as you’re sincere, the tension will gradually fall away.

“My teacher gave me a totally unfair grade, and I want it changed.”

The Art of A+ Appreciation
If you genuinely feel the grade is unfair, make arrangements to see your teacher after class. But instead of storming in and waving your paper in protest, approach him or her with an air of gratitude.

Being authentic -- not fake -- and thank your teacher for taking the time to chat with you. Then make your case. Rather than griping, “I spent hours working on this project,” talk about how much you learned and gained from the assignment. If the teacher refuses to alter your grade, ask about extra credit. Whatever the outcome, continue to be appreciative, and you can be sure next time Teach is teetering between giving you a C+ or a B-, she’ll lean toward the better grade!

Fear Is Not Your Friend

Ah, fear. Whether it’s about acing a final exam, talking to your crush or hitting your parents up for a later curfew, the one thing that can throw you into a tailspin is fear. It’s a powerful emotion, but we’ll walk you through some ways to say, “Hey, fear! You don’t scare me!”

“I have to do a class presentation, and it counts as a big part of my grade. I’m totally nervous.”

Fear Tactic: Feel it!
Don’t fight it. If you want to shake the jitters, give in to ’em a little. As you prepare for the big day, whenever you feel a wave of fear come over you, feel the discomfort of it. Fear multiplies and super-sizes when you resist it, but feeling the fear allows it to move through you (buh-bye). Then make it a point to have fun putting together that project -- and carry that positive vibe into the classroom.

“I’m going to a party with my crush, and I’m freaked out because his ex-girlfriend is going to be there. Help!”

Fear Tactic: Face it!
This is a good time to get in front of the mirror and give yourself a pep talk. Get grounded in your confidence and don’t carry with you any icky feelings, such as jealousy or insecurity. Be your absolute best self at the party, and boldly but humbly confront the face of fear by introducing yourself to the ex-GF. Just smile, make eye contact and warmly say, “It’s so nice to meet you.” Was that so bad? Now enjoy the par-tay!

“I want to hit up my parents for more allowance, but I’m scared to even approach them about it.”

Fear Tactic: Forget it!
We’re not telling you to give up on your dream of getting your parents to pad your allowance (or whatever privilege you want). But we are telling you to stop thinking about it so much. Overanalysis can cause emotional paralysis. So just tuck this subject away in the back of your mind. The next time you see an opportunity -- that is, when your parents have their guard down and you’re feeling particularly brave -- just take a deep breath, walk up and just ask.

“I’m trying out for an all-girls ice hockey league, and I’m so afraid I won’t make the cut.”

Fear Tactic: Flip it!
The thing about fear is that it often feels very similar to another emotion: excitement! Is your heart racing? Is your brow sweaty? Shift your thinking from being afraid to being totally geared up for an awesome challenge! So what if you don’t make tryouts? You enjoyed yourself in the meantime. Now you can spend time improving your ice skills, or you can take up another activity. It’s entirely up to you; life is an adventure for the fearless!

Secrets of a Girl Bully

There is a recent rise in girl-on-girl physical violence, but most girl bullies use smack talk to intimidate their victims -- and they even take their smear campaigns online for widespread humiliation.

Here, we point out a bully’s weak spots so you can see straight through that plastic Queen of Mean mask she’s hiding behind.

Secret No. 1: “I don’t like myself nearly as much as I pretend to.”
A bully seems to be rocking so much confidence, but the truth is that she doesn’t feel so great about herself. “Bullies empower themselves by picking on others because they actually may have low self-esteem,” says Kelsey Ann Jackson, 17, founder of Mean Girls Aren’t Cool, a female bullying education and prevention program.

Secret No. 2: “Often, I pick on the girls I envy the most.”

Kelsey was bullied from 9 to 14 years old. “They called me names and started rumors. I never got to eat at the same lunch table or go to sleepover parties. They excluded me, and I think they were jealous. I’m a singer, so maybe they were jealous that I got to sing and go to places where they couldn’t go.”

Secret No. 3: “There’s probably something icky in my life you don’t know about.”

Many girls who bully might have issues at home that cause them to lash out. Says Kelsey: “The main girl who bullied me -- I call her the ‘queen bee’ -- was a popular girl with money and good grades and nice clothes. But maybe she just didn’t really feel special, because she came from a family with a lot of girls, and she was the middle child. I don’t think she should resort to treating other girls the way she did.”

Secret No. 4: “I feel better about my behavior when others girls go along with it.”

“The ‘queen bee’ always got other girls to do her dirty work for her,” says Kelsey. “There were about five of them, and they followed her lead because they wanted to be in the popular clique.” But just as mean girls band together, so can the nice girls. “If you see a friend being bullied, stick up for her,” advises Kelsey. “Put the bully in the spotlight, and make someone aware of what’s going on. Tell a parent or teacher and get help.”

Change the World? Change Your Mind!

Think there isn’t possibly anything you can contribute that would actually make an impact on the world? Lots of girls feel that way -- but back it up! You totally can make a diff -- and it’s easier than you think. Right here, we show you how to take some small steps toward big changes:

1. Think Positive!
Sounds like a cliché, but there truly is power in positive thinking. Whether you want to make moolah for a favorite charity or collect winter coats for needy kids, get pumped by being your own personal cheerleader. Instead of saying to yourself, “I can’t,” go for, “I will!” Gimme a W-I-L-L!

2. Have Fun With It…
Whatever it is you want to pull off, don’t think of it as work. Stay inspired by having a good time with your project. Even if your cause is serious, there’s no good reason for bogging it down with negative energy. Paint fun, colorful posters to publicize your fund-raising event, for example…and crank up the music while you’re at it!

3. Throw a Fit
We don’t want to give you the impression that you have to toss confetti around some huge event in doing your part to help shift the world. That is so not necessary! Get involved in a way that is fitting to you. Your organizational skills aren’t all that, but you’re a talented writer? Penning a piece for the school newspaper might seem small to some, but each person’s small part counts in a BIG way!

4. Just Smile
You can spread amazing vibes even when there is no event or volunteer opp. Simply make a conscious daily effort to be pleasant -- to strangers, neighbors, parents and, yes, even annoying siblings. Pay attention to what happens. Smiling is contagious!

5. Make Peace with Frenemies
Try this as a little experiment: Do something subtle but nice for someone you don’t get along with so well. Send a birthday greeting or get-well card, or extend a party invite. Or just say “hi” instead of scowling when you see this person in the school hallway. If you’re genuine and sincere, and not pushy, you’ll see the tension dissolve within weeks. Guaranteed. World peace isn’t only on a global scale -- start by making nice in your world!

Photo: Corbis Images