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 kind of person?

December 12, 2016

What kind of person attacks two moms pushing their infants in strollers, punching the women, trying to rip off their headscarves, attempting to knock over the strollers, and screaming at them, “get the f*ck out of America b*tches, you don’t belong here.”? Emirjeta Xhelili is that person’s name.

What kind of America do we want?

What kind of America do we want?

What kind of person shoves a sixteen-year old boy and calls the boy’s mother (an 11-year veteran of the NYPD) a member of the Islamic State terrorist group, threatens to cut her throat and tells her to go back to her country? Christopher Nelson is that person’s name.

What kind of teacher tells African-American students: “Don’t make me call Donald Trump to get you sent back to Africa.” John Sousa from Wesley Chapel, Florida is that teacher’s name.

What kind of person pulls a 75-year-old gay man from his car and beats him, saying “You know my new president says we can kill all you f*ggots now.” A person in Sarasota, Florida.

Caitlin Dickerson recently wrote in her New York Times article Postelection Harassment, Case by Case “Vandalism, offensive jokes, even criminal assault — reports of bias-based harassment have spiked since Trump’s victory in the presidential race.”

Yeah, I’ve noticed.

So has the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the days following the election, they surveyed more than 10,000 K-12 grade educators across the country. Ninety percent of them reported that school climate has been “negatively impacted.”  There is a name for impact. It is being called the Trump Effect. SPLC’s report goes on to say survey results indicated “… the campaign is having a profoundly negative impact on schoolchildren across the country, producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported.”

Many educators fear teaching about what’s been happening since the election.

Push through the fear, teachers, and do your job.

This isn’t about politics or taking sides. This is about moral leadership. We all remember that, right? Helping kids develop a moral compass is the essence of teaching. Children have to be taught not to hate and fear. It has to come from those of us who understand why getting along with others is the curriculum.  Don’t let people with hate-filled hearts teach your children or intimidate them or make them feel “less than.”

If those essential lessons of cooperation and understanding, respect and compassion, justice and equality are not taught, at home and at school, if we do not instill in our kids the courage to stand up and speak out against injustice wherever we see it, we have lost the heart and soul of America.

What kind of person are you? What kind of person are you teaching your child to be?

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$#!T happened. Don’t be discouraged.

November 9, 2016

$#!t happened here yesterday. It happens around the world every day so it shouldn’t be a shock. But it is.

We can be thoughtless and disrespectful. Cruel and violent. We can be so easily conned. We often are.

We can build walls. We often do.

Persevere

Persevere

We can also be generous and inclusive, caring and helpful. We can tear down walls. We can build bridges. We can break through to the other side. We often do.

In order to form a more perfect union we have worked together very successfully. In the past fifty years, we have marched for and worked for and fought for social justice. We have achieved remarkable progress. We have done it in the name of liberty and justice for all. We have done it in the name of love.

Yesterday, we voted to let ignorance and fear of “other” stop the progress.

sigh.

We have so much more work to do.

We are profoundly saddened by this setback. We are confused, disappointed and frustrated. Cry if you need to. Vent. Hunker down for a while. Eat copious amounts of fair trade dark chocolate. Do whatever will be helpful in the short term to regain your balance. But do not be discouraged. Our children are counting on us not to give up.

Love trumps hate.

When you’re ready, let’s get back to work. We are in this together.

Filed under: Parenting,Politics — Tags: , — Annie @ 7:45 am
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What a long strange trip it’s been. Time for a breathing break…

October 22, 2016

Don't forget to breathe

Don’t forget to breathe

I’ve done a crazy amount of breathing since Trump won the GOP nomination. Had to. I mean really, the way this guy talks reflects so much scary stuff it would challenge the Dalai Lama’s equilibrium. (OK, maybe not the Dalai Lama, but my sanity for sure.) So I breathe. Doesn’t always help. At best it provides only a few seconds of relief from catastrophic thinking, but even so… it’s all I’ve got when my stress response spins out of control.

With the debates over and fivethirtyeight.com now reflecting a sizable advantage for Hillary Clinton, my blood pressure has returned to normal. But breathing still comes in handy to help deal with day-to-day frustrations.

Last week I visited a Bay Area middle school to talk with 6th-8th graders about healthy ways to manage stress. I finished the student sessions with a Breathing Challenge. It goes like this: Sometime during today, you will experience at least one situation that triggers a strong emotion. When it happens, catch yourself in the middle of a freak-out, take a slow deep breath (or three or four) and think about your next best move. Email me and let me know what happened.

I told the students their email would be their entry into a contest to win a free copy of my book Too Stressed to Think: The teen guide to staying sane when life makes you CRAZY.  I would award one book to one student in each of the three grades.

Twelve of the 1200 students entered the contest. Their experiences were so transformative I couldn’t resist sharing them with you. (For the record, I’m guessing many more of them used the breathing technique I taught, they just didn’t follow through with the email part.) OK… here we go. Be inspired.

1. Today, my siblings started talking to my friends leaving me to walk alone all by myself. Usually I would run up to my brother and punch him in the face. But instead, I breathed in and called him. He said that he had simply thought that I was with them the whole time so, it wasn’t intentional. After hearing that I just ran ahead and caught up to the group completely calm.

2. Today my brother did something and I got blamed for it… like always. I did the breath in then out and that helped to calm down. Now instead of talking back I could just accept it.

3. Today my chorus teacher was being SUPER hard on us because we are trying to learn a song. I did the breathing exercise. It worked completely thank you so much, I felt great for next period in PE and I ran my mile super fast.

4. Tonight when I wanted to keep messing around with my volleyball, my dad asked me to do the dishes. I REALLY didn’t want to do. I started getting mad when he said I had to but I took a deep breath and I did the dishes, and that made me feel good so I continued to help my parents make dinner. I was so glad I knew that breathing trick!

5. Today when I was taking my math test, I came across a difficult problem. Instead of not doing the problem like I normally do, I took a deep breath and tried to do the problem. And you know what? I actually solved the problem.

6. Earlier today my dad and I were eating lunch when he told me that I had to clean everything up when we were done. I told him I didn’t really feel like doing it because I was having a really bad headache from all of my school work. He yelled at me for not doing what he asked and I was feeling really stressed, so I inhaled and exhaled just like you told us to. That was the way I got my headache to hurt less and for me to calm down a little.

7. I saw my best friend laughing with someone who is mean to me. It bothered me. I did a breath and asked my friend about it. She explained that she was not laughing about something the mean girl had said. It turned out that she was laughing with one of my other friends and not the mean girl. The mean girl had just joined in to the laughing.

8. My brother was really stressing me out in the car today when he was singing and stomping his feet when our parents were in the store and being really annoying!!! So, I did what you told me to do- inhale slowly and exhale out. It really worked.

9. I used my breathing tool when my friend in cross country practice kept trying to pass me. I got really annoyed, but once I did the breathing, I felt much better.

10. Today I wasn’t able to remember my homework. This made me stress. “What is my homework? How can I find out????!!!!” I thought in my head. I couldn’t think because I was so frantic. I then thought about you. I took a long deep breath and went to my binder. My memory started to flow and I remembered it was #102-104. That doesn’t matter, but the point is that I used your method to solve my problem.

11. Today I was doing homework and my little sister came in and started stepping on it. I started to get really mad until I realized what I was doing and used the breathing technique you talked about. I calmly led my little sister out of my room instead of doing something that would have made it worse.

12. Today my dad said that I could hang out with friends but then he changed his mind after I told my friends I could go. So I got REALLY MAD! But then I talked it out with him and took breaths and calmed down. Your advice really helped me, thank you so much!!

That’s it for today. Enjoy your weekend. And don’t forget to breathe.

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How not to apologize

October 8, 2016

images-6

Sorree!

Teen: You wanted to talk to me, Mom?

Mom: Sit down.

Teen: Did I do something wrong?

Mom (holding up evidence): You tell me.

Teen: Oh. That.

Mom: Yes, that. I am absolutely mortified by what you did.

Teen: I was just joking.

Mom: Why am I not laughing?

Teen: OK. Not funny. I get it. Can I go now? I’ve got stuff to do.

Mom: Sit down.

Teen: What now?

Mom holds up the evidence. Again.

Teen: We’re still talking about that?

Mom: You need to apologize. Now.

After hours of silence.

Mom: I’m still waiting.

Teen: Fine. I apologize if anyone was offended.

Mom: That’s not an apology!

Teen: Huh? Why not? I used the word apologize.

Mom (totally exasperated): An apology is a sincere expression of regret for what you’ve done. You have to show awareness of why your behavior crossed the line. You need to take responsibility for the harm you caused to others and start making amends immediately. A real apology demonstrates you’ve learned something important that you will use to help you become a more responsible person.

Teen: All that?

Mom: Yes. All that. Now, try again. And say it like you mean it.

Teen: (deadpan) I am not perfect. I have said and done things I regret. I was wrong. I apologize. I don’t want to talk about this any more. It is a distraction. Let’s talk about other things. Grieving mothers. Laid-off workers.

Mom: What are you talking about?

Teen: Don’t interrupt, Mom, I’m on a roll. (back to deadpan) Washington is broken. Change for America…

Mom: This is ridiculous!

Teen:… Bill is an abuser. Hillary is a bully.

Mom: You’re grounded.

Teen: You can’t do that, Mom. I’ve got plans for Sunday.

Mom: Go to your room.

Teen starts to storm off.

Mom: Wait!

Teen: (turning, hopeful): Yeah?

Mom: Gimme your phone. No more tweeting.

Filed under: Parenting — Annie @ 8:12 am
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