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.

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.

November 19th>Amy Fortney Parks’ blog at Wise-EdServices.com

November 18>Sarah Newton’s blog at SarahNewton.org

November 13>Amy Jussel’s blog at ShapingYouth.org

November 7th>Nuala O’Hanlon’s blog at KeystoneCreations.com.au

November 5th>Megan Hunter’s blog at UnhookedMedia.com

November 3rd>Vicky Thornton and Jen Rehberger’s blog at VickyAndJen.blogspot.com

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

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

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

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

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

October 17th> Drawp blog at Drawp.it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Eye and mind-opening event at the Microsoft Store

October 6, 2014

Let's learn about this together, kid!

Let’s learn about this together, kid!

Last Thursday’s Talk n Tech event at the MicrosoftStore in The Village (Corte Madera, CA) was a real eye-opener for me. And judging by the expressions and comments of the parents who came by to meet me and see what’s going, the same was true for them. I love technology. Especially for the ease with which it connects us and equalizes our access to information.

That said, I’m not a techie. I’m a people person. And visiting the tech stores I’ve been to in the past hasn’t been all that much fun.  But I’ve got to say that it felt really good to be in the Microsoft Store, and it wasn’t because I received compensation related to the event and to this post. Nope. I felt comfortable in the space because the folks who work at the store were so welcoming. Tea was offered! Along with nice wooden stools to sit on. One of my biggest surprises was learning how a Microsoft Store can be used by community groups for meetings and presentations at no charge! More than a store this felt like a 21st century community learning environment.

Beyond the latest in technology, what else could be learned in this space? After a tour of the store and an impressive demo of Surface Pro 3, five people and I were treated to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, and we tackled that question. The conversation around the table was so dynamic and insightful, I wish we had recorded it for posterity!  We parents talked openly about the benefits of technology in the lives of our kids and families. We also shared our genuine concerns about content, access, balance, and guidelines for helping kids develop personal standards for their online behavior.

Big questions came up around the table, without concrete answers… yet. But the questions themselves are instructive, and they spotlight areas that most parents can relate to. For example:

1. How do I keep my kid safe(r) online? Kids are wired to push boundaries and take risks. Parents are wired to keep kids safe and to help them learn to keep themselves safe. “Spyware” doesn’t help kids develop good judgement. And “just say no” isn’t effective parenting. Our job must include helping them identify what it means to be a responsible digital citizen and why their choices matter, online and off.

2. How do I teach my kids to self-monitor and self-regulate without my having to play “Computer Cop” 24/7? Social media is the vortex where Character Development battles with Peer Approval Addiction. Social media is often a highly emotionally charged environment with no boundaries. What’s a parent’s role in preparing our kids to inhabit this digital landscape?

3. How do I personally fight my own connection addiction so I can model what I preach and my family can establish a healthier balance between screen-time and unplugged time? What do I do when my kids push back… hard?

4. After I’ve ’snooped’ and discovered my child has crossed the line… how do I have conversations that will help him/her a) manage those knee-jerk destructive emotional responses and b) get my voice inside his/her head to help my child to think more clearly when I’m not around.

Hopefully, what was begun will spark more discussion. The Microsoft Store and the technology there will definitely make having those conversation a lot easier.

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