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.

Little kids, ‘bad’ words, and mindful parenting

February 18, 2015

"Boy, you need to have your mouth washed out with soap!"

“Boy, you need to have your mouth washed out with soap!”

If we’re doing our job as parents of young children, we ought to be talking to them a lot. We should be singing to them. Teaching them nursery rhymes.  Reading to them. Asking them questions. Showing interest in what they have to say. We play an essential role in helping our kids develop language. With language comes a child’s ability to communicate his or her needs, ideas, dreams, and emotions. Language connects hearts and minds.

We should encourage our kids to talk and praise the progress they make. But what happens when we’re not thrilled with their choice of words? Once, when I was four, I told my mother to “Shut up.” Her response was to stick a bar of soap in my mouth. (I kid you not.) I grew up in the era of mindless parenting. But that was then and this is now. What do you do when a toddler drops an f-bomb or an s-bomb? If it occurs in public, the Parent Police will be on you in a hot New York minute, assuming L’il Sweetie Pie learned that word from you. And that may be true. (Hey, I’m not judging.) But here’s the thing, even if your language, like mine, isn’t always G-Rated, you still can and should teach your child what is and is not appropriate language for them to use.

Earlier today I received a parenting question from a grandfather who had gotten an earful from his 2 year old grandson. Grandpa wasn’t sure how to respond so he asked my advice. Here’s what I told him over at my vlog on Vidoyen.

When your child (of any age) uses language that you deem “inappropriate” what do you do? Tell us what’s worked in your family. Please, no stories about soap.

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My Dad Always Gave Me a Valentine

February 12, 2015

Me and my dad

Me and my dad

On Valentine’s Day,  my father always remembered my mom with something special. He always gave me a gift, too. None of my friends’ dads did that. 

During middle school, I suffered from acute “Everyone’s Got a Boyfriend But Me” syndrome. I seriously doubted anyone would ever love me. I doubted I was lovable. Funny how those two are connected. Valentine’s Day was a time of high anxiety. Dad’s gifts meant a lot.

My dad died suddenly when I was 15. Left a huge hole in my heart. It’s mostly healed now. As much as it will ever be. There’s still sadness, but I smile when I think of the tiny bottle of L’Air Du Temps he gave me on Valentine’s Day when I was 12. Love stays.

Read more about why you should remember your tweens and teens on Valentine’s Day….

Filed under: Parenting — Tags: , , — Annie @ 9:21 am
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Go on! Love yourself. There’s so much that’s ‘right’ with you.

February 8, 2015

Unchain my heart to love myself more

Unchain my heart to love myself more

We are so loving this current downpour in parched Marin. Feel like sending the rain gods a Valentine.

The big count down to V-Day has begun. Most of us have been brought up on the notion that Valentine’s Day is for lovers. And, yeah, it is. But here’s the thing, if you don’t love yourself, it’s gonna be hard to really love someone else. Also, if you don’t love yourself, you’re going to have trouble recognizing love coming at you… and an even tougher time accepting and savoring it.

That’s why I’m writing about self-love today. Specifically, how hard it can be for tweens and teens to get excited about being who they are when so many of their peers, family members and The Media conspire to convince them they aren’t “__________ enough.” (Not thin enough, smart enough, cool enough, hot enough… not GOOD enough!) That’s such monumental BS and yet, most middle and high school students buy it and dig right in with fork and spoon. Hell, most adults believe they’re not good enough. Good enough for what?! That’s what I’d like to know.

I got an email from a teen who was super upset because she isn’t “tall enough”. Read on…

I’m a 16 years old girl and only 5’1″ tall. People always make fun of me specially guys. I sometimes cry. Before, I was really confident and I didn’t mind being short, but now it really hurts me. My mother refused to take me to a doctor so he would give me some type of medicine to help with my shortness, although she knows how much I hate my height! What can I do? – Too Short

Dear Too Short,

I understand what it’s like to be short. I am 5’2” tall myself. Not a giant! You say that people “always” make fun of you. Really? Always? You say “before” you were really confident and “didn’t mind being short.” What changed your level of self-confidence? Was it going to a new school or was it one person who suddenly started giving you a hard time?

In friendship,
Terra

Hey Terra,

I always get teased when someone asks me about my height, not always whenever they see me. What changed my self-confidence was one boy who gave me a hard time, but I started to ignore him and not care at all. – Too Short

Dear Too Short,

Smart move to ignore that boy. By doing that you took away his power to upset you. Whenever anyone asks you about your height in a rude way, as in “How come you are so short?” (People can be unbelievably insensitive!) consider answering with the plain and simple truth… “Genetics.” Then on to something else. A person’s height is a fairly boring topic of conversation, isn’t it? If that’s all someone can manage to talk about, well, he or she is probably not a very inspiring companion! ;O)

btw, I’ve got a friend whose daughter is also 16 and not quite 5 feet tall. I reached out to them to see if they had some advice for you. Here’s what they wrote:

From the mom:

We realized very early that Angela was smaller than everyone else. People would look disturbed because she was tiny but had an incredible vocabulary. Our doctor assured us everything was fine and to let her grow at her own pace. When she was eight a doctor friend suggested we just check because certain medical conditions are identified because of short stature. One test lead to hundreds of doctor appointments and she does have a medical condition. This year our daughter argued that the benefits of staying on the medication outweighed the risks – she wants to be 5’3″ and is barely five feet. It took a few weeks, X-rays, and the doctor delving deeper into the risks associated with growth hormones for my daughter to concede and accept she’s hit her maximum height potential. It does make her sad sometimes, but the fact that she could have only been 3’9″ if we hadn’t taken action makes us (and her) embrace her height.

If you can discuss how you feel, your parents need to listen. It is worth the visit to the doctor cross off any other issues that could be behind the height deficiency.

Angela always thought the other kids were foolish because they teased her about something she knew she couldn’t help. For every negative remark she has heard people say about her, she immediately called out something good about herself …even if she fell back on “being nice” over and over. To this day – at 16, she still says this. Angela has some advice for you. She says you should “focus on the strength and beauty then write it down and keep it in a place you can refer to.” Angela did this at age 8 and she still has it today. Angela learned to own the beauty in her petiteness:

– I can climb a tree higher than anyone else and see where the birds live
– I’m petite like Mary Lou Retton and other gymnasts
– I have ADHD like Michael Phelps and look what he did!
– I can curl up easily in airplane seats!
– Not many boys want a girl taller than them, so I’ll always have that

Thinking positively can take practice, but once the feelings become familiar, you can embrace and celebrate your good!

I hope this advice from Angela and her mom helps.

In friendship,
Terra

Hey Terra,

My mom finally agreed to let me see a doctor, although she’s so scared from the side effects, but at the same time, she wants me to feel good about myself. After I read Angela’s mom’s message I felt so much better and I think that Angela is such a strong girl. I wish her good luck in reaching her goals. She’s such an inspiration. And I seriously should start thinking more positively and focus on what’s beautiful in me.

I will do what you told me to do, and of course it is a boring topic. People should care about the personality more than anything else. Again thank you, and Angela, and her mom for giving me such great advice when I needed help. You made me feel much better. –Just Right the Way I Am

Dear Just Right,

We are very glad to have helped you. Any time!

In friendship,
Terra

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As we come up on the Day of Love, here’s a delicious truth for you and your children to enjoy: You already are more than good enough for everything that matters. As for the stuff that doesn’t really matter, let it go. Then make yourself a Valentine.

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Teens, Money, and Who Pays for What

January 26, 2015

I earned it, shouldn't I get to keep it all?

I earned it, shouldn’t I get to keep it all?

Most parents want their kids to understand how to manage money, but they don’t often provide their kids with an education in “money smarts. ” Most teens don’t really get it because whenever they need cash, their parents hand it over.  But what happens when a teen gets a part-time job? I recently heard from a 16 year old who just got his first job and is shocked and resentful to learn that his parents expect him to start covering some of his own expenses. Read on….

“… I have to pay for my $200 contact lenses if I want to keep wearing. And they are going to charge me for gas and stuff. Geez! I don’t even know how much I’m making yet and they’re already making me go broke talking about ‘Welcome to the real world!” I am not 18 yet so they shouldn’t treat me like it or I’m going to act 18. Let me continue being 16 and having a childhood. What ticked me off the most is them talking about saving and budget. HOW? paying two bills and $200 contacts?  I get a job and all of a sudden you guys don’t take care of me any more? My mind is heavy and I don’t know what to do.”

Heavy Mind

Dear Heavy,

Part of the problem is your assumption that “No way should I have to pay for any of my expenses!” Obviously your parents have a different point of view. You are 16 and I’m pretty sure you don’t appreciate being treating like a child, yet, when it comes to contributing to your own expenses, you do want to be treated like a child.( “Let me continue being 16 and having a childhood… “)

You’re going to have to calm down before you talk with your parents. Sounds a little weird to have to be calm to talk about what is upsetting you, but calmness is key if you want them to hear you.

Follow these steps…
1. Find out exactly how much you will be taking home from your job each month. (That’s different from what you earn since taxes are taken out of paychecks).

2. Make a list of all the expenses your parents want you to be responsible for (contact lenses, gas, “stuff”) and add them up. What does the math tell you? Can you afford to pay for your contact lenses and your gas, etc. or not?

3. Meet with your parents. You might say something like this, “I’ve been thinking about what I can do to help pay for some of my expenses. I’ve written down how much I will be earning each month and how much the contacts and the gas cost each month. Here are the numbers.”

4. Show them the math.

5. Then you might say, “I want to contribute some of what I earn to pay my expenses, but I would also like to have some left over for spending money (so I don’t have to ask you for any) and also for saving. What do you think is a fair monthly contribution that I should make to my expenses?”

6. Close your mouth and listen to what they say.

Good luck!

In friendship,

Annie

Heavy:  Thanks. I’ll give it a try :)

To be continued…

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