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.

Help your kids get from school stress to calm and confident

September 10, 2013

Last month I had a great opportunity to chat and practice visualization with parenting coach Heather Chauvin. She shared a bit of what she knows about school stress so parents can help their kids (and themselves) manage anxiety at the start of the school year and all throughout.

Watch this 18 minute video then use Heather’s practical and helpful tips to ease your kids’ anxiety levels and teach them to calm themselves at home or at school. Oh, yeah, and it works for adults any time we’re feeling off-balance.

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Urgent message to tweens and teens: Do something to stop the hate

September 5, 2013

Let me tell you something, kids. It’s easier to think about bullying as something “out there” that someone else is doing. It’s easier to think of yourself as a nice girl or a good guy. That kind of thinking may be easy, comforting even, but it’s wrong. The urge to shut someone up or down, to make them sorry for what they’ve done, is in every one of us. Not an inspiring thought. Nothing to be proud of. But it’s true.

She'll be sorry...

When you’re jealous because someone you love loves someone else more, or you’re embarrassed because someone called you out in front of everyone… you feel so angry you want to do whatever it takes to bring down the people who hurt you. So you attack them with a fierce hate that you hope will draw blood. And if you make your victim cry, scare him or her so badly they’re afraid to ride the bus or step inside the lunchroom, you might feel powerful… for a moment. But that’s not who you are. And it’s not even close to where your true power lies.

We wish there was no bullying in school. Nice thought. And how do you think that’s going to happen? Hint: It’s got nothing to do with changing other people.

Filed under: Parenting,Teaching Kids To Be Good People,Teens — Tags: , — Annie @ 10:47 pm
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Urgent anti-bully message to educators: Do more to stop it

August 19, 2013

They say schools are no longer in the business of teaching good citizenship, character, ethics or whatever you want to call it because educators are too busy “teaching to the test.” There’s no test for character that can be graded to give districts bragging rights for getting their scores up, so why teach this stuff? Because there actually is a test for character. It’s called Life and we ought to be teaching to it. When we don’t, we get this…

Hey Terra,

People at school don’t like me because me and this popular girl got into a little fight and I won. To get even she spread rumours about me saying I was in a mental institution for weird and violent behavior (a complete lie). Then everyone started to insult and ignore me. She does it the most. They say stuff like “Hey freak! No one likes you, so why dont you take a long walk off a short bridge?” Everyday. I don’t get a break from it. I insult them back. I know I probably shouldn’t bother, but it’s really hard not to. It’s like automatic for me now. I don’ t like being told to basically die. It’s not right for anyone to be told that.

So Fed Up

See it. Name it. Stop it.

Dear Fed Up,

These kids are being rude and cruel. I know it’s hard to hear this crap and try to brush it off. I’ve heard it said that no one can bring you down without your permission. That’s kinda true and kinda not. Humans are wired to be emotional. We’re also wired to want other people to like us. So when someone shouts angry words in your face or online, your human wiring kicks in. Your heart beats faster (and not in a good way) and you feel attacked. Even if the person isn’t someone you know or care about. Even if what he or she says is a lie. Words hurt. We feel it. So I totally understand the temptation to attack back. Except… it doesn’t help. You’ve seen that. It just makes things worse. Like throwing gasoline on a fire. That won’t put it out.

But you need to learn to take care of yourself. That doesn’t mean yelling nasty stuff back at people who are mean to you. You need to take care of yourself by figuring out how to response so that

a) you don’t give anyone permission to push your buttons so you automatically react like a puppet and
b) at least one adult at school and/or at home steps in and gets to the bottom of this so that this girl and her followers no longer feel they’ve got the right to talk to you or anyone in this way.

I just took my fingers off the keyboard for a minute.  I’m taking a deep breath now, because hearing about this stuff every day really upsets me. I feel frustrated there are kids who believe it’s OK to be mean to other kids. I also feel frustrated that the adults who run schools (principals, counselors, teachers, coaches) have not done a better job making school a safer more accepting place for all students all the time.

Still breathing. It helps. Take some deep breaths on your own whenever you need to calm down. Then think about what would really make this situation better. Forget about trying to talk to the girl. Go to adults in power. Talk to your parents. Tell them what you told me. Tell them just how Fed Up you are. Talk to the principal (with or without your parents). Talk to the school counselor. This has to stop. Adults can make it stop. Remind them it’s their job.

Take care.
In friendship,
Terra

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I’m so sick of the situations that prompt these emails. Where are the adults in charge? Do they really not know what’s going on? Do they believe it’s not part of their “job” to get involved with fights between students? Do they worry they’ll get no support from their administrators if they step in? Do they worry they’ll get  in trouble with parents for calling out kids who are disrepecting other kids? Or have they just given up, believing that peer harassment is a problem bigger than any remedy they might offer in the moment?

I don’t know what school administrators and teachers think about the bullying that persists in their schools. Why don’t you tell me? I’m listening.

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What if you’re the New Kid at school?

August 14, 2013

For many girls and guys the start of this school year means starting over in a new community. That may include leaving behind good friends and a town you loved. Even if you didn’t love everything about your old school, you may not have wanted to move. In the middle of dealing with those emotions, you now have to get used to living in a new place. Once you locate the new school (Thank you, GPS!) you’ve got to get used to new teachers and a new schedule without getting totally lost on your way to class. On top of all this is the major challenge of figuring out where you fit in with hundreds of kids you don’t know.

If you are the New Kid in school, this blog is for you. (It’s part of my upcoming The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship, illustrated by the infinitely talented Erica De Chavez) If you’re not the New Kid, read on anyway. Then, hopefully you’ll be on the look-out for anyone at school (new or old) who needs a friend.

Yikes! I don’t know anybody here. (from The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship, by Annie Fox, illustrated by Erica De Chavez, © 2014 by Annie Fox and Erica De Chavez. Now available)

Q: My family just moved to a new state. I had to leave all of my friends. Now I’m at a new school. How do I make new friends?

A: Welcome to your new school! You’re probably excited and a little sad because you left some friends behind when you moved. Being in a new school without friends is like watching a movie without popcorn. Making new friends will help you feel more at home in your new home. But how do you make friends? Here are some tips:

1. Be friendly. That means act like someone who wants friends. Smile. Say, “Hi, I’m ____. What’s your name?” That lets kids know what a nice girl you are.
2. Be a good listener. Ask kids what your new school is like and listen to what they say. When people ask you questions, don’t brag (“I was the most popular girl at my old school.”) or make stuff up (“My old school had flying unicorns the students could ride on.”)
3. Ask to be included. This takes courage, so you may need some slow deep breaths before you say, “Hi. Can I play?”
4. Find a buddy. Be on the lookout for at least one girl who seems like she could become a good friend for you. Then follow the directions for #1.

Good luck and have a great school year!

In friendship,

Annie

PS If you want a couple more “sneak peeks” of The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship you’ll find them here and here.


UPDATE October 3, 2014: The Girls Q&A Book on Friendship: 50 Ways to Fix a Friendship Without the DRAMA is now available in print and on Kindle (the ebook can be read on any device, your mobile phone, tablet, or computer with the free Kindle reader app). Visit GirlsQandA.com for an excerptreviews, and to order your copy.

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