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.

How do I change my “mean girl” reputation?

October 27, 2014

My days as a pumpkin are over. Now I'm just a squash.

My days as a pumpkin are over. Now I’m just a squash.

The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship blog tour bus pulled up in front of EncouragePlay.com. On the front porch, beside a carved-too-early Jack-o-lantern, former school counselor, Janine Halloran and I enjoyed fresh pumpkin muffins and apple cider. Then she threw me this tricky question from a former student:

“I have a bad reputation in school for being mean but I’d like to change it. How can I do that?”

Janine: What would you say to that girl?

Annie: It sounds like you now understand how your reputation grew from your not being careful with other people’s feelings. I’m really proud of you for realizing you are responsible for your behavior and that you want to start making better choices. The first step is to apologize to everyone you knowingly hurt with your words and your actions (online and off). Talk to each person separately. (This might take a while and it might not be an easy conversation to have, but you can do it!)
To each person, you might say something like this, “I’m very sorry for what I did to you. It was mean and I want to apologize.” Then close your mouth and listen to what the person says. They may still be angry with you for things you did. (And they may have a right to be angry!) Please try to stay calm and not to get angry back. Just listen to what they have to say. You may learn a lot from what you hear. Even if the person is so surprised by your apology that he or she doesn’t know what to say, that’s OK. You have given them something to think about. You might just leave it at that… Or you might add this: “I’m trying to be a nicer person. I hope you give me a chance to prove it.”

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What experiences have you had trying to get people to see you in a new way?

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What part of friendship gives girls the most problems?

October 25, 2014

This question was asked of me on my current Girls’ Q&A Book blog tour, by Deborah McNelis, educator and founder of Brain InSights.

Deborah: Is there an aspect of friendships that you find to be most common from girls?

Annie: Yes! A common thread weaves its way through most girl friendship conflicts and makes girls feel trapped in uncomfortable peer relationships. It’s a misconception many girls have about their role in a friendship– a bizarre assumption that: “If I speak up for myself in a friendship, I am not being a good friend.” This creates huge problems for girls because when they are upset, they need to express themselves effectively and appropriately to their friend. (Talking behind her back doesn’t count as effective communication!)

Because girls are often unwilling and/or unable to initiate those necessary conversations, they feel miserable and complete stuck in their misery. They believe a “good friend” should never tell a friend something negative because then she will hurt the friend’s feelings. And that’s mean. So, if I, Annie, am hurt by something my bff Deborah did, I can not tell her, otherwise I will not be a good friend. But Deborah is not a mind reader. If I stay silent, Deborah has no way of knowing how I feel. My silence will, in fact, send the message that it is OK for her to continue treating me badly, even though it is not OK! My silence also leaves me feeling upset and powerless, not realizing that I do have power to change my response to this situation.

There is no girls’ friendship drama that can’t be made WORSE… through staying silent, venting behind a friend’s back, or pretending things are just peachy. Since we’re here to help girls make things better, one way is to give them opportunities to talk things through with us parents and teachers. Another is to do actual role play with them to boost their confidence in having these honest conversations. And finally, it’s our job to help them realize that they are never without options for feeling better about themselves in any relationship.

Every Friday at #GirlDramaChat we discuss girls’ friendship challenges and smart strategies for teaching them compassion, respect, and social courage. Follow me @GirlDramaChat for updates.

50 Ways to Fix a Friendship without the DRAMA

50 Ways to Fix a Friendship without the DRAMA

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Are girls worse than boys when it comes to bullying?

October 22, 2014

As some of you know, I’m currently on a blog tour to spread the word about  The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship without the DRAMA. If you are female (any age), and/or if you are raising a daughter, teaching or coaching girls or you’ve got a sister, a niece, etc., I’m guessing you know about girls’  friendship DRAMA. Destructive lunacy, right?

The Girls' Q&A Book on Friendship. Up with compassion and social courage. Down with social garbage.

The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship empowers girls to make choices they feel good about.

For the next several weeks, I’ll be highlighting some of the friendship questions my gracious blog tour hosts tossed in my direction as I stopped at their site. No softballs here!

This question comes from the dynamic educator and psychologist, Louise Masin Sattler ( @LouiseASL )

Louise: Do you think we are making strides in reducing bullying in the schools? And are girls worse than boys with bullying? 

Annie: Yes, of course we are making strides. Yippee! Progress should be celebrated. Are those strides being made universally? No. Is the progress happening quickly enough? Hell no! There are still many schools where teachers bully students and where teachers turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to students making sexist, homophobic, and racially-charged comments to other students. There are still school administrators who shrug and tell distraught parents of targeted students, “Kids will be kids.” or “Teen girls are just mean. What are you going to do about it?” (Actual statements made by school administrators as reported to me by extremely frustrated parents.)  

Are girls “worse” than boys with bullying? I don’t believe so. Both girls and boys are afflicted by Peer Approval Addiction in equal measure. Both genders struggle to do the right thing while simultaneously feeling compelled to do whatever it takes to fit in… including stuff they aren’t particularly proud of. The difference, if it exists at all, may be in the methodology girls and boys use to “take down” peers, online and off. That said, the seeds of compassion and empathy are equally prevalent in boys and girls. So, even though I wrote this book for girls, both boys and girls need to understand that their choices matter… in peer relationships and in life.

Read more of Louise’s Q’s and my A’s at LouiseSattler.me

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Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship Blog Tour

October 13, 2014

It’s Monday. Let’s talk about reality. What is real?

Girls’ friendship issues are real. So is the damage they can cause.

The Girls' Q&A Book on Friendship. Up with compassion and social courage. Down with social garbage.

The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship. Up with compassion and social courage. Down with social garbage.

The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friends without the DRAMA is also real. I wrote it. Erica De Chavez illustrated it, brilliantly. And it’s now available in print and on Kindle. No Kindle? No problem. It can be downloaded and read beautifully on anything, except maybe a microwave. If you’re not in the US, you can get the book on whatever Amazon site you usually shop on.

My desire to criss-cross the world helping girls with their friendship challenges is real.  So is the need to reduce the social garbage kids slog through daily, online and off.

My book can make things better for tweens and the adults who care about them. But alas, I had no budget for plane fares, hotels, food (and I do like to eat).

Life is not virtual, but book tours can be.

So… I got a virtual bus…

Girls' Q&A Book Blog Tour Bus. Fueled by good will and good friendship strategies. Zero carbon emissions.

Girls’ Q&A Book Blog Tour Bus. Fueled by good  friendship strategies. Zero social garbage emissions.

Last week I hit the virtual road answering real friendship questions and letting girls and parents and teachers know that when it comes to curtailing the spread of Mean Girl Disease, we can do better.

Here’s my itinerary… Pop in any time. I hope to see you and your girls. And don’t worry about expired dates. I’m still there. Ah… the beauty of virtual existence.

October 6th> Dr. Kimberly Palmiotto’s blog at Coastal Education Services

October 10th> Dr. Amy Alamar’s blog at Parenting for the Genius

October 10th> Sarah Newton’s blog at SarahNewton.com

October 13th> Erin Harris’ blog at CrisisPrevention.com

October 13th> Wendy Young’s blog  at Kidlutions.com

October 13th> Carl Grody’s blog at GrodyFamilyCounseling.com

October 15th> Beth Onufrak’s blog at DrBethKids.com

October 16th> Louise Masin Sattler’s blog at LouiseSattler.me

October 17th> Drawp blog at Drawp.it

October 20th>Jean Tracy’s blog at ParentingSkillsBlog.com

October 23rd>Beth Engleman’s blog at MommyOnAShoestring.com

October 24th>Deborah McNelis’s blog at BrainInsights.blogspot.com

October 27th>Janine Hallorin’s blog at EncouragePlay.com

October 29th>Wendy Morelli’s blog at Tweenhood.ca

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Coming soon… I’ll also be stopping the bus to guest post for these awesome bloggers:

Vicky Thornton and Jen Rehberger of VickyAndJen.blogspot.com

Megan Hunter of UnhookedMedia.com

Nuala O’Hanlon of KeystoneCreations.com.au

Amy Fortney Parks of Wise-EdServices.com

Sarah Newton (Part 2) of SarahNewton.com

Dr. Deborah Gilboa of AskDrG.com

Julie Brower of JulieBrower.com

Stay tuned. And if you have friendship questions, post them to COMMENTS and I’ll answer them here. No reason my own blog shouldn’t be part of the blog tour too!

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