Annie Fox's Blog...

Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Cure discovered for ‘mean girl’ disease!

August 19, 2014

After more than a year’s collaboration, our work on The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship is wrapping up. Illustrated by the ridiculously talented Erica DeChavez, my book for 8-12 year old girls, is coming next month from Electric Eggplant.

I’m super excited when I think about all the girls this book is going to help. Let’s face it, a new school year always brings friendship issues (aka social garbage.) The Girls’ Friendship Q&A Book is a cure for mean-girl behavior. (You’ve had enough of that, right?)  With 50 questions from real girls (and answers that really solve the problem), plus tons of quizzes and awesome advice from older teens about how to be a Super-Friend, this book will teach you a whole lot about empathy and social courage. Something we can all use more of.

Sneak Peek from The Girls’ Friendship Q&A Book> Here’s one of the book’s fifty questions and answers:

"She needs a friend, but I don't think I'm brave enough."

“She needs a friend, but I don’t think I’m brave enough.” (from The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship, by Annie Fox, illustrated by Erica De Chavez, © 2014 by Annie Fox and Erica De Chavez. Now available)

A new girl from another country gets teased because she doesn’t speak English.  I want to be nice to her, but I’m afraid people will tease me. Should I be her friend? 

You already know the answer to your question, but you need some support. That’s why I’m here. Yes, you should be her friend! She has come from far away to a place that is very strange to her and she needs a friend. Imagine how you’d feel moving to some place that’s very different from what you’re used to. What would it be like not to understand what people are saying and to have no one understand you? She’s got a lot to deal with. Now imagine how she feels being teased. Having a friend like you could really help.

You say you’re worried the teasers might turn on you. They might. Or they might become friendlier to the new girl when you show them the way. You have the chance to do something important, and you are brave enough to do it.

Be kind. Show this girl that people in your country can be very welcoming. You’ll gain a new friend and learn amazing things about her and her culture.

Go for it and good luck!

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For updates on the publication of The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship, follow me on twitter and visit GirlsQandA.com

UPDATE October 4, 2014: The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA is now available in print and on Kindle (the ebook can be read on any device, your mobile phone, tablet, or computer with the free Kindle reader app). Visit GirlsQandA.com for an excerptreviews, and to order your copy.

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Day 9 Kindness and Respect Challenge (R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me)

October 9, 2013

I just came off a radio interview on the topic of teen dating violence. (Excellent timing for my Kindness and Respect Challenge. )One of the other guest experts, Associate Professor Emily Rothman of Boston University School of Public Health, said that 10% of teens report having experienced physical violence in a dating relationship. (Hitting, slapping, kicking, sexual coersion, etc.) Apparently that number has been fairly constant over the past 15-20 years. What has been increasing is emotional/psychological abuse in dating relationships. That ranges from name-calling, insults and threats, to dictating what a partner can wear and who s/he can talk to. 25-30% of teens report having experienced emotional/psychological dating abuse. Any controlling behavior (typically on the part of males toward females) is disrespectful. It also frequently leads to physical violence. Because many girls value their close relationships so much it can be hard for them to stand up for themselves and set boundaries.

In this recent email a girl describes to me the disrespectful treatment she gets in a friendship. Substitute the word “boyfriend” for “best friend” and you’ll see we’re talking about a common challenge for teen girls: “How do I get the respect I deserve from the people I care about?”

Hey Terra,

I have a best friend and she’s keeping me in jail. (Well, that’s what I think.) It’s like she won’t let me be friends with anyone or else she’ll be jealous. If  she’s jealous, she’ll seek for revenge and I will be miserable and not able to concentrate on my studies. I’ve always wanted to tell her that I don’t wanna be her best friend anymore but I don’t have the confidence to say that. My heart says it’s the best thing to do. Do you think it’s the right decision?

Don’t Wanna Be a Doormat

Hey! You can’t have other friends. Only me! (from The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship, by Annie Fox, illustrated by Erica De Chavez, © 2014 by Annie Fox and Erica De Chavez. Now available)*

Dear Don’t Wanna Be,

I agree with your heart. From what you describe, this “best friend” of yours isn’t acting like a friend at all. In your own words she:
• gets jealous if you are friends with anyone
• seeks for revenge

What kind of “friend” is that!?

Do I have to tell you your next best move? Nah. You already know what you need to do. This friendship is not a healthy one. It lacks the key ingredient: mutual respect. This is bullying prevention month. And what’s going on in this friendship is a form of bullying.

You need to end this. I know that is a scary thought. So take some slow deep breaths, right here, right now, and calm yourself. Get your confidence up and say to yourself, “I deserve friends who treat me with respect.” Think it and say it over and over until you can say it with confidence and know that it’s true.

Get to that point and you should be able to say something like this to your friend, “When you try to control who I am friends with by getting jealous and angry at me, I feel like I am in jail. Friends shouldn’t treat each other that way. It’s disrespectful. I’ve been feeling like this for a while but I haven’t told you. Even though I was scared I should have told you. Friends should be able to talk to each other about the hard stuff. I apologize. We don’t seem bring out the best in each other. That is why I am taking a break from this friendship.”

I hope this helps.

In friendship,
Terra
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Tune in tomorrow (Day 10) for an update from Don’t Wanna Be a Doormat

*(Excerpted from my upcoming The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship)


UPDATE October 3, 2014: The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA is now available in print and on Kindle (the ebook can be read on any device, your mobile phone, tablet, or computer with the free Kindle reader app). Visit GirlsQandA.com for an excerptreviews, and to order your copy.

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Day 7 Kindness and Respect Challenge (We’re here to help)

October 7, 2013

On Saturday (Day 5 of the Challenge) I drove to Stanford to a Challenge Success student event. My job was to lead two round table discussions. The topic: “Too Stressed to Think?” in which I would help tweens and teens understand the link between being in so-called emergency mode and doing stuff we later regret.

I’ve written a lot about stress over the past eight years. Done countless presentations for kids and the adults who live and work with them. Even though Saturday’s event was at a world-class university, teaching doesn’t rattle me. What did shake me up in advance was the challenge of finding exactly where I needed to be. Stanford is a big place and map-reading is not my thing.

Arriving in the vicinity I asked some students for directions to the Graduate School of Education. They wanted to help, but they were newbies and like I said, Stanford is huge. So they kindly brought over this older guy who knew the campus well. He was kind and patient. Helped me decipher my map (yeah, I had one) then told me a) where to park-no charge on weekends! and b) where my building was.

After the event, heading back to my car, I spotted two confused people peering at a map. I asked them if they were lost. They were looking for the campus bookstore. I admitted I was also a visitor, but I wanted to help them. (Pass it forward, right?) Between their map and my knowledge of the name of the building I had just emerged from, we figured it out.

So, take this into the new week: We’re here to help each other. Sure, there are more self-serving ways to play the game, but I don’t recommend them. For one thing, it feels good to help. For another, there’s karma and being helpful will help you. If you need more motivation to go out of your way to help other people, how about this: it’s the right thing to do. Not always easy, as I told the girl who asked this question, but always right.

Got another minute? Read on:

A girl has bullied me forever. She just got glasses and now people are making fun of her. Should I stick up for her? (from The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship, by Annie Fox, illustrated by Erica De Chavez, © 2014 by Annie Fox and Erica De Chavez. Now available)*

What a great question! Isn’t life interesting the way things can turn around? This girl picked on you, so you might be thinking, “Why should I help her?” The answer is simple: Because she needs a friend right now. Another reason you should help is because you know exactly how bad it feels to be teased. If you stand by and let others make fun of her you’ll be unhappy because you’ll know, deep inside, that you could have done something to make things better.

The answer to your question is yes! Stick up for the girl with the glasses. It’s the right thing to do. But you already know that because you’ve got a hero’s heart (otherwise it wouldn’t bother you that people are making fun of her).

If you help her maybe she’ll learn something about the importance of respect and kindness. Then who knows? This may be the beginning of a great new friendship!

*(Excerpted from my upcoming The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship)

Check out Day 8 of The Kindness and Respect Challenge


UPDATE October 3, 2014: The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA is now available in print and on Kindle (the ebook can be read on any device, your mobile phone, tablet, or computer with the free Kindle reader app). Visit GirlsQandA.com for an excerptreviews, and to order your copy.

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