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.

Defense Against the Dark Side: Where’s Harry Potter When We Need Him?

April 23, 2015

A Good Use of Power

A Good Use of Power

In our 40 years together, David and I have read many books. Add another hundred or so books on tape we’ve consumed on road trips. Yep, we’re addicted to good stories. So it wasn’t too weird when, after a business trip to Florida and a side trip to Universal’s Wizarding World, we decided to re-read all the Harry Potter books… aloud… to each other.

Starting in mid-December, I’d read a couple chapters over breakfast each morning. At dinner, with wine and candlelight, I’d read another chapter or so. If we were driving for more than 20 minutes in any direction, I’d read aloud in the car. (Yes, I can do that without barfing. Lucky me.) At the end of each day we’d watch the film adaptation of the current book, making sure to stop when we got to a new part (i.e., a section of film we hadn’t yet read.)

To date we’ve completed six books and six films. (When we get into something we really get into it.) We’re now half-way through Book 7.

Ever since the kids of Hogwarts took their education into their own hands, I’ve been thinking about the Dark Arts as it relates to the dark side of humanity. While we rarely hear about jinxes or debilitating spells, we’re plenty aware of public humiliation and shaming in social media. Character assasination is a curse, high on the list of Dark Arts. So how do we defend ourselves against the real and present danger of social garbage? How do we teach our kids to defend themselves, online and off, from the hostility of their peers? Where is Harry Potter when we need him?

When I think about what it means to defend oneself, I picture someone standing up for their rights or the rights of others and actively fighting back against the vitriol. But there is inherent danger when one uses vitriol to fight vitriol. The weapon we use has the power to infect us and make us more and more like the perpetrators we seek to vanquish. We can so easily become the enemy. Doing the right thing in a good way, isn’t easy.

How do you help your children defend themselves against the prevailing Culture of Cruelty? How do you teach them not to succumb to its ways? Post here and let’s get into it. You can also follow my tweets at @Annie_Fox and @GirlDramaChat. Every Friday you can join the conversation as I host #girldramachat, a weekly Twitter chat (11AM PST) to help parents/teachers/counselors support girls thru friendship drama w/compassion, respect & social courage.

 

 

 

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Blogging for Huffington Post

December 22, 2014

Just started blogging for Huffington Post. Long time goal on my bucket list… check! I haven’t been at it for long, so you haven’t missed much. If you’d like to catch up, here’s where you can subscribe to my RSS feed and/or read the three articles I’ve posted so far.

Since I’m starting this gig during the holiday season, I’m seasoning my posts with holiday spirit. Like this one, from today: This Holiday Season Have Compassion for Relatives Who Drive You Nuts.

It’s a little funny and a little serious. Bottom line, we’ve all got folks in our extended family who can push our buttons like all get-out.  (Not sure where that expression comes from but I’ve always liked the sound of it.) Don’t know about you, but when I get my chain yanked I’m at least as unpleasant as the aforementioned button-pushers. No fun for me or anyone else. So in this post I give tips for turning irritation into compassion. Why? So you (and I) can spread a little love in Aunt Gertrude’s direction while teaching our kids that there are times when we all need to put on our ‘company manners’ and be pleasant to everyone.

Time to get together with the family...

Time to get together with the family…

Go ahead, read it and you just might have a happier holiday. I hope so!

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Get the behavior you want without being the parent you hate

December 10, 2014

My name is Annie Fox and I endorse this book!

I’m Annie Fox and I approve this message!

I read lots of parenting books, but only recommend the top notch. That means they deliver pragmatic advice in small, well-organized, chunks of digestible wisdom. No big chunks, please. Who’s got the time? It helps a lot if the book’s tone is so engaging I can imagine the author talking to me over a cup of coffee. Also, it’s a good thing if the descriptions of parent-child interactions are so spot-on I’m chuckling and misting over throughout. (Yes, a good parenting book is as likely to make me cry as it is to have me laughing and calling out to David, “Sweetie, you’ve gotta hear this!”)  Added requirement for any great parenting book: I have to learn something new. Not so easy because, as I said, I read loads of them.

For all the above reasons, I’m happy to recommend Dr. Deborah Gilboa’s latest book, Get the Behavior You Want Without Being the Parent You Hate. Before I tell you what I learned, let me tell you who needs this book – Any parent who has ever wondered if there’s a better way to get your child to:

1. Brush his/her teeth

2. Get along better with siblings

3. Quit whining about being “booooorrrrreeeed” and learn to manage their free time creatively

4. Do something you require without your constant nagging

… plus fifty other things that kids need to learn in order to be become respectful, responsible, and resilient young adults.

Dr. Gilboa, aka @AskDocG, is a practicing family physician, and a parenting expert. She’s also the mom of four boys who,  have apparently brought her to edge of sanity more than once. In the book’s introduction she admits that she has “nagged, yelled at, threatened, and guilted my children to try to get them to behave well. Not all of the time, and usually not on purpose, but, just like many parents, I’ve done all this and more. Not only do I feel really horrible about it afterwards, but (and here is the kicker) it doesn’t work.” So you see, Doc G is also honest, humble and funny. What’s not to like?

Listen to my podcast interview with Doc G.

As for what I learned from Get the Behavior You Want… it came from section 5: What you do is more important than what you feel. Think about it for a minute. Most of the time we mindful parents do our best to get our children in touch with their feelings. “How do you feel now, sweetheart?” “And how did what he said this morning make you feel?” “How do you think you’ll feel about that tomorrow?” The message to kids: how they feel is pretty much the most important thing. Doc G points out that feelings are important, but they should not be accepted as an excuse for poor behavior. Something parents do all the time!

We do it when we say, “Oh, she’s just in a bad mood.” “He’s had a hard day.” “She’s overtired.” Doc G teaches that we need to help our kids become accountable for their behavior. And we can accomplish that by empathizing with our kids’ feelings (“I understand why that made you angry….”) while still sticking with our standards of behavior (“….but biting is totally unacceptable in this family. And here’s the consequence for the doing it…”)

It’s not always easy for an unhappy, overtired child to accept responsibility for his or her actions, but parenting is all about clear standards and consistent responses, isn’t it?

Thanks, Doc G!

Try making this shift in the way you deal with unacceptable behavior from your kids and let me know how it goes.

 

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“I’m too scared to talk to my BFF!”

November 24, 2014

Conventional Wisdom: Girls are more talkative than boys, especially when it comes to expressing their feelings.

Annie: That depends on the risk the girl believes she’s taking by being honest.

This question comes from Tweenhood.ca, a thoughtful, complete resource for parents of tweens. Co-fouder Wendy Morrelli, was kind enough to host a stop on my Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship blog tour last month.

Q: I’ve heard my friend say and do things that are not nice. But I’m afraid to say something as I don’t want to lose her friendship.

I want to talk to her but I'm scared!

“I want to talk to her but I’m scared!” Illustration by Erica De Chavez from The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship by Annie Fox © 2014

Annie: Here’s what I hear you saying, “I don’t like the way she’s acting. I want it to stop. But I don’t want her to be mad at me. So I don’t know what to do!” I’ve heard this same fear expressed by many girls, so you’re certainly not alone!

When we are uncomfortable in a friendship because a friend is doing or saying something rude or disrespectful (to us or other people) we need to speak up. If you don’t tell her how her behavior makes you feel, she won’t know because she isn’t a mind-reader! But it’s hard to tell a friend that you don’t like what she’s doing. Maybe you’re afraid she will get angry and not want to be your friend any more. Maybe you also believe being a “good” friend means you should never say anything negative about your friend’s behavior. Where does that leave you? I’m guessing it probably leaves you feeling stuck. But you aren’t stuck. You always have options. You can stay silent, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Do you know why? Because when things aren’t going well in a friendship, silence does not make things better. Silence usually makes things stay the same or actually make things worse! If you are looking for ways to make things better between you and your friend, I suggest you take some slow deep breaths and say calmly and respectfully say this to her:  “When you do ________ it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me lose respect for you. Please stop doing that.” Then close your mouth and listen to what she has to say. It could be a really interesting conversation! Read the rest of our Q&A at Tweenhood.

Bonus Question for Parents: How could you do a better job empowering your daughter to speak up in a friendship?

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