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249: Middle School Mean Girls

By August 1, 2023November 6th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast

Sometimes a Mastermind parent struggles with an issue that’s so damn relatable, we can’t help but share it. If you’ve lived through the middle school years, you’ve probably seen your kid struggle with changing social dynamics, and rejection by kids who used to be their friends. It’s not only heartbreaking to watch, but our instinct to protect often only makes things worse. The key to helping them through this emotionally challenging stage of life is helping them face it on their terms.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  1. How to cultivate the trusting environment your child needs to feel comfortable with sharing when peers are mistreating them.
  2. Why your kiddo might have some sympathy for the person bullying them, and why you should, too.
  3. Physical activities for combating stress and helping kids open up.
  4. The similarities between between the embodied experience of physical and emotional pain.

And much more! 

As always, thanks for listening. Head over to Facebook, where you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community. We post tips and tools and do pop-up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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[00:00:00] My name is Randi Rubenstein, and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast. At Mastermind Parenting, we’re on a mission to support strong-willed kids and the families that love them. 

Hello, hello, hello. We are thick in the middle of summer. And this week my team who heard this recording of me responding to a mom’s scenario about 6th grade girl drama thought that this was something that our podcast listeners needed to hear. My podcast producer and some of the members of my Mastermind Parenting team, they just felt like, you know what people are not talking about it like this.

And if you are the mom of a girl, especially a tween girl, or you’re sort of just dreading those tween years because

[00:01:00] you watched the movie Mean Girls and you know what’s coming, you know what’s coming. And, for many of us, we start to experience little snippets of it when our girls are in, you know, second and third grade sometimes.

So this was a mom who, was distraught about her sixth grade daughter. She had been at a volleyball game where her daughter was there meeting, meeting up with some friends. And so the mom just kind of observed what happened and, oh, I just like, I felt it. I remember, I was there so many times I will never forget like this athletics banquet when my daughter was in like, I think 10th grade and I could clearly see all these girls that had been her besties for many, many years, like they were sitting at one table and my daughter was

[00:02:00] sort of seemed like she was by herself.

I could see the way that her body language, you know, her body language showed me that, like I just knew that like she was not feeling great about herself and she was feeling other and not included. And I remember, like I was there with my husband, like the parents were sitting somewhere and I just wanted to go over and just like – oh, I wanted to wrap her up and take her home and chastise all the girls for hurting her feelings.

And, you know, she had to just kind of go through it and then it’s like, okay, how do I show up for my kid, where I don’t make the situation worse? What’s the right way to show up for my kid? And when we’re so triggered because it brings up old hurts for us, and even if we don’t remember exactly what those old hurts were, our bodies remember. If our bodies didn’t remember, we wouldn’t be so freaking triggered.

[00:03:00] You’ll have to excuse the audio quality because we use this cool app so that basically I can give people that I work with coaching sort of 24/7 in between our coaching calls, our regular coaching calls. And so when I have a mom who is really distraught, she comes and she lets me know what’s going on and then I’m able to sort of help her through it in real time. So that’s what we’re sharing with you this week And I hope that someone out there says to yourself afterwards I really needed to hear this today. That’s why we’re putting it out there. So here you go.

So here is a message back to Stacey about sixth-grade middle school girl drama. And this is always a topic that people are interested in because

[00:04:00] this is usually, when we have girls, this is the time. That’s what we’re worried about. 

For anybody who ever watched the movie Mean Girls or read the book Queen Bees and Wannabes. It all happens in middle school. And it is extremely triggering for us as moms, because, you know, they’ve done studies about emotional pain shows up in the body in the exact same way as physical pain. So, like, if you’ve got a bleeding wound and you cut yourself and it’s throbbing and throbbing, like, the brain registers the pain of that the same way the brain registers having all your friends act like assholes.

You know, your friends who yesterday were your friends and today you’re

[00:05:00] at the school volleyball game or whatever. And they’re all sitting together and they’re all sharing inside jokes and they’re all making their plans to go and, and go here for pizza and here for a sleepover and you just are sitting there feeling othered and not included. And the pain of that, it’s primal for us. It triggers that sense of belonging being kicked out of the tribe. It is like a gaping, throbbing wound and it hurts and it’s invisible. 

You know, when you have an actual physical wound that is causing you a lot of pain, somebody could see it and say, oh, that looks nasty. You need to stay off of that. You need some ice. Can I help in any way? But when you have an emotional wound, it’s dependent on you telling someone else about it

[00:06:00] for them to know. And it’s vulnerable. Because telling someone else about it, a lot of times, you’re just saying the thing out loud that you don’t even really want to say to yourself or admit to yourself.

I feel like a loser. They don’t like me. They’re not including me. Why am I not as good as the rest of the girls? Why don’t they want me there? And, um, it’s extremely vulnerable. Right? It’s painful and it’s vulnerable. 

And what most moms experience is what Stacey, talked about in her message, which is, I’m just so sick of these girls treating her like this. I’m so sick of it. And Stacey you caught yourself. thank goodness. I, you know, this is this one little girl who’s all of a sudden – they’ve been friends since all through elementary school and now they’re

[00:07:00] at a bigger middle school, and there’s a bunch of new friends added to the friend group, and this girl has changed, and she’s experiencing some popularity, and she’s growing into a teenager, and she’s considered pretty and da da da da da. 

And so she’s playing around with this new identity and she’s not being that, you know, tried and true loyal friend to my daughter that they’ve been to each other over the years. But the next week, she’ll be like, wanting to be – have my daughter sitting next to her again. And I’m sick of it. 

And then Stacy, you said that your daughter, here she is telling you about it. Thank God. I’m just so glad you’re telling me and not keeping it all bottled up inside. Commit that to memory, every single mom out there, when your kid trusts you and feels safe with you, and tells you about some shitty

[00:08:00] thing that’s happening to her or she feels like a loser and she’s trusting you and telling you and you’re her person. You’re her Christina Yang. 

Reference from Grey’s Anatomy for all the Grey’s Anatomy fans out there. Of course, we’re all Meredith, aren’t we? Aren’t we all Meredith? Yes. So when your daughter. Trusts you as her, Christina. And she’s just saying, you know, if you ever watched Grey’s Anatomy, Christina and Meredith didn’t talk things out ad nauseum. When shitty things happen, you know what they did? They danced it out. 

Because it’s pretty dysregulating to the nervous system when you’re experiencing some kind of emotional pain. Your nervous system has a chance to recalibrate when you dance it out or do something like that. 

You know, in the mastermind, a lot of times we’ll tap things out. We’ll take, we teach kids how to tap. We walk them through a tapping. We take a walk. We’re talking about things with that peripheral vision, which is, I think, just like the greatest thing. When

[00:09:00] you’re talking about it in the car, when you have a teenager that sits in the front, you’ve got the peripheral vision. I think that that is really conducive to sharing truths. 

And I think to take it up a step to take a walk and to have the peripheral vision and to have your bodies moving, I think that can be extremely cathartic and helpful to recalibrate a nervous system or you could just take a cue from Meredith and Christina and start dancing it out.

But yeah, the only thing we can say to our girls in all these moments is mostly, I’m just so glad you’re telling me and not keeping it all bottled up inside. I’ve experienced that too. Me too. Me too. Because, Stacey’s daughter, is sensing how invested Stacey is in this. I’m just so sick of them treating her like this.

There’s three kinds of business, your business, their business, God’s business. And in

[00:10:00] this case, this is her business and she’s treating you as her person. And she senses that you’re up in her business on this. And so she’s saying, I don’t want you to hold it against her. And this is something I’ve heard many, many times over the years. Many articles, many psychologists have talked about this, how teenagers are scared to confide in their parents because they’re worried that when they make up with the friend, we’ll still hold it against the friend. 

And when we’re dealing with teenagers, they’re all going to be shitty at one point or another to each other. They’re all trying to figure it out. Even this little girl who’s experiencing some popularity and not being such a tried and true friend and all the things. 

You know, I think the movie that did the best job of kind of this was that movie, um, Wonder. In the movie, they really talk about, you know, the older sister, she’s, I think, gets to high school and her

[00:11:00] best friend for their whole life, starts to go into a racier crowd and do popular kid things and leaves the older sister in the dust, which, you know, sounds like the case here. And I think the movie does such a good job of – at the end, the friend comes around. Like she’s just a kid too, you know? 

And a lot of times, I’ll tell you, the kids that work real hard to be so popular, they’re looking for something that they haven’t necessarily gotten at home. I know I was a popular kid. I worked hard to be a popular kid. I was going to create my own social dynamic, um, out in the world, and a sense of belonging that I didn’t really feel I had at home. Popularity is real hard work. 

And saying, I don’t want you to hold it against her. And I don’t, don’t tell Dad, I don’t, I don’t want him to hold it against – she’s basically saying, I just want y’all to be my people. I’m

[00:12:00] just so glad you’re telling me and not keeping it all locked up inside. I experienced this too. Yeah. Mmm. Hard. 

You know, where I would say something that I said to my daughter, I remember when she was experiencing this queen bee in middle school and she was telling me this story about how, when they would go to these bat mitzvah parties, they would all dance in a circle and the queen being with lock eyes and choose one person to focus all her attention on. And when you were that person you felt like you were gold. And if you weren’t that person, you felt like you were invisible and like a piece of shit. 

And I said to Avery after we had talked for a while and I said, you know, the sad thing is is that just like you, at one point, this girl was a delicious little teeny tiny newborn baby who got brought home from the

[00:13:00] hospital and smelled so yummy and had the perfect little fingers and toes. And over the years, somewhere, she received faulty toxic messaging that as a girl, as a woman, you’re more powerful when you’re not an includer, you’re an excluder. You’re more powerful when you use these toxic methods to kind of push other people down to make yourself feel bigger. 

Where did this, at one time, little teeny tiny baby, where did she get these messages? Like, it’s pretty sad. Because I can tell you this is going to be her path, toxic patterns, toxic relationships, like this is how she’s going to continue to feel powerful. 

And, using these exclusive methods, you know, pushing yourself up, pushing other people down. It actually does

[00:14:00] work in the short term. To gain power it does. That’s why people use it. And it always, always catches up with everyone. It always does. Right? It doesn’t have the staying power. 

Like, when you’re the kind of person that is an includer, that is empowered, and strong, and is rooting for other people and wants to include other people and comes from a place of kindness and love and fun and joy, it feels good to sit next to you. And that’s the long game. Right? Everybody wants to eventually be next to those people, especially once they’ve gotten burned by the people who are rising into power positions through toxic, exclusive methods. So, as dad says, the cream always rises to the top, and when you’re playing the long game, you just show up as a good person.


[00:15:00] unfortunately, it will all shake out. Every single queen bee eventually is taken down. And it’s sad for them when that happens, and it will happen. I’ve only seen it happen so many different times. I just find it really sad that anyone would think that the way they feel powerful in the world is by making other people feel disempowered and invisible and terrible. It’s kind of disgusting and sad. 

So those are the conversations. And then the conversations of, all I know is that we’re long gamers, we’re includers, and you’re an amazing friend. And, it’s a special seat next to you. And I hope you just always remember that, right? Like anybody that has the opportunity to get to sit next to you, you’re a loyal friend. And you’re a true friend. You’re what we call a lifer.

[00:16:00] And it is a special spot. And I hope you start to use a lot of discernment on who gets those spots next to you. Took me a lot of years to figure out who gets the spots next to me. A lot of years. But I know you’ll get there. I’m not worried about you. 

It really does involve some coaching, but we gotta get to a place where they’re open to the coaching and the only way we get there is the me too, I get it, thanks so much for telling me, this is so important for you to not keep this stuff all bottled up inside. And no, I will not hold it against anyone. You guys are all kids trying to figure it out. 

Thanks for listening today, guys. I hope you picked up some tips, tools, maybe some baby steps for creating more balance and boundaries in your life. And I just wanted to let you know, if you want to continue moving the needle forward in creating this for yourself, having a happier household, I want you to go to my

[00:17:00] website and check out We have three beginning programs, and if you need some accountability and more support then please look for the one that would be a good fit for you.

And, as always, we’re on all the social channels under mastermind parenting, on Instagram it’s mastermind_parenting. And, you know, periodically I do pop up on different Instagram lives, Facebook lives where I give you teaching and coaching and I love engaging with you live to help you help your strong-willed kids so that they can feel better, because when they feel better they do better, and I love, love, love getting to know you guys. 

So thanks for listening. If you like this podcast, please don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review. Super, super appreciative.

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