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Little Girls Can Be Mean: Four Steps to Bully-proof Girls in the Early Grades

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  988 ratings  ·  157 reviews
Worried about mean girls? Help your daughter respond and react to bullying where it starts---in elementary school

As experts in developmental psychology and each a mother of three, Dr. Michelle Anthony and Dr. Reyna Lindert began noticing an alarming pattern of social struggle among girls as young as five, including their own daughters. In today's world, it is likely that y
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 17th 2010 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2010)
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Average rating 3.50  · 
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Jan 13, 2013 rated it liked it
This book was ok. There were some good thoughts and ideas in it and there were also some things that bothered me.

Two things that bothered me were the suggestions that girls lie or manipulate the situation so as not to be embarrassed or feel left out. (Example: lying and saying you forgot it was crazy sock day to avoid being embarrassed your socks weren't exactly what you wanted. Or purposely changing the routine to make it not work with the outfit the other girls picked and you didn't like, for
Feb 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Having two daughters of my own I thought it would be wise to read this book. I know how mean girls can get and I was hoping for some useful stratagies for helping my second grader with her current friendships and friendships to come.

I found the scenario's in the book very realistic. I enjoyed the way that the author would show two sides of the same scenario from each of the girls involved in some cases. That made me pause and give some thought to how we as parents may overreact to our children w
Jan 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
I've been waiting for a book about relational aggression and younger girls ever since reading Queen Bees and Wanna Bees, a book I liked but couldn't use for the difficulties my younger daughters were experiencing. Most of the advice in this book is very practical. When you read it, you'll be like, "well, of course." But it's always good to have reminders because in all honesty, sometimes I know what to do but get too caught up with rushing us through the day to really focus on the girls. My favo ...more
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
This is a must read for anyone who loves a girl between the ages of kindergarden and 6th grade. It's not only informative, but helpful as well.

This book gives numerous solid and specific examples of how you can utilize their 4 step process to help your daughter navigate through her social life. The steps are Observe, Connect, Guide, and Support to Act. They focus on what your child can control vs. what they can't, and they empower her to participate with you in finding solutions to her problems.
Tracey Mcd
Mar 22, 2019 rated it liked it
More than anything, this is a reminder to be present. To ask engaging questions and help guide instead of telling your daughter what to do.
Jun 05, 2011 rated it liked it
I thought this book was fine, once I got past the ridiculous title. The basic framework (observe, connect, guide, support to act) was good, and I think I could certainly use it to help me be more mindful in my day-to-day interactions with my daughter now, before she's reached the age where the mean-girl stuff starts getting real. But the main weakness of the book for me was when the authors tried to make with the advice in terms of specific vocab girls could/should use in certain situations. Sug ...more
Feb 25, 2011 rated it liked it
This book should be a must-read for anyone who has or works with little girls. It may not be the most brilliantly written book, but it gives a voice and a name for the subtle yet destructive ways girls bully each other. After reading it, I will never again dismiss a comment my girls make about what is going on within the social structure of school. I learned great strategies to help develop assertive, not aggressive, girls. It also gave me a better understanding of the need girls have to feel po ...more
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Really meant for parents of younger aged girls who haven't or are just beginning to experience friendship issues. Lots of repitition, some good nuggets of advice but nothing I'm not already doing. Disappointing. ...more
Jen Ryan
Jun 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Technically, I didn't "read" this... I got about one chapter in and got so sick of the "tell them what you are going to tell them" formula, I gave up and sent it back to the library. ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
DNF. I made the mistake of doing this as an audiobook and it was painfully boring to listen to. I also purchased this a little ahead of our time as my oldest hasn't started elementary school. May look for a similar book down the road as we try to navigate mean girls but doubt I'll turn back to this one. ...more
Rebekah O'Dell
May 24, 2017 rated it liked it
I feel like I will reference this book time and time again in the future. It's chock-full of helpful strategies. (But, as a result, it's not a super cohesive, engrossing read-through.) I'm glad this is now on my shelf as a reference. ...more
Sep 05, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: parents and teachers of girls in grades K-6
I am the mother of two young girls and having grown up experiencing how mean girls can be (myself included, I'm afraid), I want to help our girls find ways to rise above this tendency, be assertive in their choices (versus passive or aggressive) and be resilient in the face of cruelty and exclusion.

I like that there are a lot of anecdotes (from both of the authors' own families as well as descriptive examples with other children.) And I like that the authors provide concrete steps that parents
Mar 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, nonfiction
Somewhere between 3-4 stars, actually. This might be one to own.

The premise is that we need to establish the kind of relationship where our children feel comfortable coming to us with their problems, knowing that we will take their concerns seriously and be supportive. Then, we help them to be objective and brainstorm together for solutions.

We need to teach girls to be assertive. So often girls (and women) are expected to be passive. Many of them are, but when pushed past their breaking point, t
Jan 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
While this book had a lot of very good suggestions and techniques, and was certainly worth reading (if only due to the sheer lack of bully-related books for the elementary crowd), the authors made some truly baffling suggestions throughout. It really felt as though, for every four reasonable or good ideas there was one that was completely bonkers. The suggestion that you encourage a child to lie (when at this age they have no understanding of white or courtesy lies, let alone lies of self-preser ...more
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it
This book outlines a 4 step approach to helping your child dealing with problems, mostly social problems by guiding and empowering them. The steps are observe, connect, guide and support to act. These, as a general rule, are good things for any parent to do as they help their child grow, especially observing (paying attention to them) and connecting with them. I got a bit bored of reading the four steps being applied to many different scenarios with a lot of the same things being said over and o ...more
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was ok
I saw this book at the library and picked it up. It had some good insight into things my daughter had experienced with her friends at school. I was not crazy about all of the solutions. In one instance it said that one option your child had was to lie. E.g. a child getting upset about sock day at school and worrying about not having the right socks. One of the options was to tell kids you forgot about sock day. "Oh its sock day?" I find this a cowardly method of teaching your kids to cope with c ...more
Shala Howell
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Little Girls Can Be Mean by Michelle Anthony and Reyna Lindert starts from the premise that friendship challenges are universal, complicated, and ever-changing in grades K-6. Still, they argue, it is possible to use a simple, clear process to teach your child how to navigate them on her own.

One of the things I like about this book is that the authors recognize that your child can be on either side of a friendship struggle at any given time. She may be the one hurt by the actions of others, but h
Apr 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
I was hoping for some solid advice on how to approach the middle school years with my daughter. This book boils down to, pay attention to your daughter and connect with her. Which is fine advice.

The reason for the single star comes towards the end of the book where they specifically suggest and encourage girls to be passive aggressive by talking about a characteristic or trait another girl has, without actually saying the girls name. The authors do not call it "being passive aggressive" though,
Jan 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This book offers a method of helping young girls deal with bullying. They have four basic steps you can take:
1. Observe. Don’t rush in to fix the problem or give advice. You want to gather information so you have a more complete picture of what is happening.
2. Connect. It’s a good idea to be generally well connected with your daughter, so she will trust you with difficult situations that may arise. You can also connect with her about the specific situation.
3. Guide. Work together with your daug
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was a mixed bag. Some of the examples were GREAT, and some of the suggested prompts for active listening and questions for follow up were incredibly helpful. I know I’ll be going back to those pieces again and again as situations arise. But there were a few places where I was uncomfortable with the emphasis on “fitting in” and a few places where I felt more was needed to differentiate between when it’s important to step in and when it’s important to let the girls work it out. I liked m ...more
Nov 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Sadly, I picked this one up because the title is true--Little girls *can* be mean. There are good ideas presented in the book, though I'm not sure that the format was the most accessible. I like that the authors did not belittle the very real emotional pressures that K-6 girls face.

Several important points: girls cannot control others, only their choices; parents need to connect with kids on small things so that they will be able to connect with them about bigger issues; the importance of activ
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
With my daughter moving to 1st grade I was worried about other mean kids. I started reading about things when she was in Kindergarten and a few of the examples actually happened to her. I was proud that I was able to help her through, but I wanted a little guidance for when she was older and needed to deal with these issues on her own. I do like the 4 step method of Observe, Connect, Guide, and Support to Act. The guiding stage is something I'm working on. I want her to come up with options and ...more
Frank Jude
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
Yes, girls can be bullies, though their form of bullying tends to be more emotionally targeted rather than the physical aggression common among boy bullies. These two mama-psychologists offer an analysis of "The Rise of Social Cruelty" before launching into a detailed and proactive 4-stage system to "bully-proof" young girls.

The book's best parts are reviews of real-life scenarios and how to apply the four steps. And the last section, "Think, Share, Do..." is a wealth of activities that can hel
jay walker
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
It was OK. Nothing an attentive loving parent wouldn’t do anyway, but a good reminder to not try to fix everything yourself and use opportunities thoughtfully to connect with your daughter.
The authors are selling their product, The Four Steps (observe, connect, guide, support to act) and at times the book comes off like a readable commercial. Very repetitive, just shows different situations and how they can all magically be solved with the Four Steps.
Advice like “take her for a walk and ask wha
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't really like "self-help"-ish books but when my sweet Kindergartener came home from school sad because a "friend" was being mean to her, it was not something I felt equipped to deal with. Kindergarten just seemed way too early for these problems to be arising and I just wanted some back-up so I didn't settle on telling my kid to say something hateful to the little dumpster-fire child that was being mean to her.

This book was actually really helpful and set my mind at ease a little.
Jul 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
I didn't exactly finish reading this because we were heading out for a long vacation and it needed to be returned to the library. I am planning to purchase a copy to finish and keep as a reference. My daughter is 8 1/2 and this book is very relevant to helping girls navigate the social world in which they live. ...more
Apr 21, 2018 rated it liked it
A nice no-nonsense parenting book for moms with girls. I liked the use of example scenarios and the overall message. Lots of good reminders of the importance of staying connected with your child and how the trust you develop over time continues to pay off. I will have to revisit again in a year or two as the kiddo grows.
Kristen Will
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every parent and teacher should read this book! Helping our children (I do somewhat resist the authors’ notion that relational aggression happens just/mostly to girls) deal with bullying, friend issues, and disappointment in general is so important in a day and age when we rush to solve their problems for them.
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was fascinated by the detailed analysis of the complex social dynamics at play in what appears on the surface to be no more than a disagreement between friends. I was already familiar with several of the concepts (e.g. active listening, assertiveness, etc) from other contexts. I hope I can use what I learned to help my kindergartner.
Julia Smith-brake
Such a great reference book! Lots of ideas and tools to use in walking through tough friend situations with our daughters. I skimmed some of it, but giving it 5 stars anyway because we're going to order the hard copy and mark it up so we can use it on an ongoing basis through our kids' primary years. Some of it is intuitive, but like the straightforwardness of the four steps. ...more
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Michelle Anthony, M.A., Ph.D. is a child development researcher and educator. She is a co-founder of Wide-Eyed Learning, LLC, which teaches parents and educators the Signing Smart approach to using ASL signs with hearing babies and toddlers. She lives with her husband and signing children in Centennial, Colorado.

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