No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls is a must read for parents of preschool and elementary school aged girls. Katie Hurley has taken her twenty years of experience in child psychology and used it to take the guess work out of handling something every girl faces-mean girls. Mean girls can wreak havoc on girls’ self-esteems, and most parents don’t instinctively know how to handle the aftermath. As a mother of four daughters, my only regret about this book is that it wasn’t in my hands sooner. This is one of those books that probably needs to be kept on the bedside table, because it will be needed again and again.
Honestly, this is so much more than just a good book on a delicate subject. This is a toolkit for parents and teachers. Using a mix of startling statistics and personal anecdotes, Katie Hurley helps readers understand the mean girl culture, but she doesn’t stop at explanations. She gives solid, practical advice on how to help girls deal with the mean girls in their own lives without imitating the behavior.
Every chapter contains parent/teacher conference sections to reiterate the chapter’s key points and give parents and teachers danger signs to look for and ways to course correct before the problem escalates out of control. Some of these danger signs are extremely subtle, so the average person would likely miss them and, sadly, miss the opportunity to help girls navigate their way through these tough social situations. But, with these tools, parents can be ready.
Parenting is hard, and none of us get it right all of the time. Katie Hurley understands and works hard to address areas where parenting styles need a bit of adjusting. She does this in a kind and compassionate way. She has a wonderful ability to point out areas in need improvement without making parents feel like failures over mistakes they may have made in the past. Instead, she keeps the focus on the present. By doing so, she gives parents the confidence they need to make the necessary changes and help their daughters become strong, confident, compassionate girls just as the title suggests.
To truly help girls become strong and confident, lots of topics are addressed. She talks about helping girls become more inclusive, raise their self-esteem, teaches them to manage stress, and find balance. There’s a wonderful section on helping girls develop problem solving skills and another on helping them learn to become leaders. She has an entire chapter devoted to communication skills, and it is extremely useful. Her explanation on assertive communication skills is honestly worth the price of the book all by itself. We all want our daughters to grow up to be women who aren’t afraid to assert themselves, right? There is also a section on social media and the jarring affect it can have on girls. She covers lots of other things as well. Each topic is covered thoroughly, with a heaping helping of compassion. I’ll admit, I ached at times as I read the statistics and anecdotes. A few even made me want to cry. But, by each chapter’s end, I felt more and more prepared to help my daughters navigate the pitfalls.
The Girls Can sections at the end of each chapter are the real confidence boosters in this book. They provide openings for parents to talk to their daughters about the chapter’s subject matter. This section alone is the reason this book is sure to be revisited frequently. By using crafts, games, cooking, and other unique discussion starters, parents can very confidently talk about the difficult topics with their daughters and actually help their girls develop their own strategies in advance. Since each chapter covers a different topic, parents can easily flip to the chapter they need in the moment and find the perfect activity to help their daughters. Each Girls Can section even features multiple options, so parents can pick and choose which activities they think are best for their girls.
The true strength of this book is really declared right in the title. The only way to stop producing mean girls is to help girls become strong, confident, and compassionate. And, with this book, a parent can even help a ‘mean girl’ learn to interact properly with others and change her ways. This is what truly excites me about this book. With four daughters, I guess it’s not a big surprise that I have one who’s just begun to embrace the ‘mean girl’ philosophy. Now, I feel much better equipped to help her move away from her current trajectory and make better choices moving into the future.
– Michelle Clairday