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.

Integrity is worth more than Olympic gold

February 20, 2014

Terrible violence is happening in Kiev as the Ukrainian government (closely aligned with Moscow) comes down hard on protestors who want closer ties to Europe. According to CNN (reporting information from “the protesters’ medical service”) the current death toll may be as high as 100 civilians with another 500 wounded.

Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska (Graham Dunbar/AP)

Ukrainian skier Bogdana Matsotska (Graham Dunbar/AP)

Today, two members of the Ukrainian Olympic team, Alpine skier Bogdana Matsotska and her father and coach Oleg Matsotskyy, withdrew from the Games in support of the protestors and returned home.

“We wanted to wear black armbands to mourn the people who have died in Kiev, but the IOC told us it was not allowed,” Bogdana said. “In these conditions it is simply not possible to compete. We don’t feel comfortable here and we can’t compete.” Her father wrote on his Facebook page that he and his daughter were returning home “…in solidarity with the fighters on the barricades… and as a protest against lawless actions made towards protesters, the lack of responsibility from the side of the president and his lackey government, we refuse further performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.”

I greatly admire them both for prioritizing the well-being of their countrymen over a chance to win a gold medal.

Teachable Moment: The choices we make in life define who we are.


When you go for Gold there’s no quitting allowed, but for the rest of us…

February 18, 2014




I don’t know a thing about the parents of Olympic Gold Medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White, except of course, that they’ve gotta be crazy proud of their kids. It’s also safe to assume, because the two began skating together as young children, that they had tons of parental support. Did either their moms or dads pressure them to skate or push them to compete when the “kids” didn’t want to? I have no clue, but I do know that if Meryl and Charlie had hung up their skates at any time during the past 17 years, they wouldn’t have been in Sochi last night, thrilling us all with their exquisite and perfectly skated long program.

A few years back when Amy Chua was making the rounds with her controversial parenting guide, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom, I was asked by the folks at to participate in a Tiger Mom Debate by writing a response to this question: “Should kids be allowed to quit?” If you really knew me, you’d probably not be surprised that I opted to debate for  “yes” with qualifications. For example, parents should  require children to commit to their new activity for a reasonable trail period.  When our daughter was in 3rd grade, she excitedly announced  she wanted to play the violin. We rented an instrument and signed her up for a 3-month package of semi-private lessons. Three months to the day she excitedly announced she was ready to quit. We said “Fine.” and threw out our special set of Practice Time earplugs.

The Olympics are inspiring lots of kids to try something new. Skiing, skating, snowboarding. (Curling?!) When kids are up for exploring a new activity parents should encourage and support them, provided the challenges are age-appropriate and the risks aren’t unacceptably high – as in “Mom, I want to join the crocodile wrestling team!”

Teachable Moments: If your kid has big dreams (or any size dream) encourage him or her to go for it. Provide a realistic sense of the work involved. If they give it a shot and decide “This isn’t for me” praise their effort and breathe through any of your own disappointment. Remember, your kids’ dreams have to be their own, not yours.




Presidents’ Day Acts of Kindness Challenge

February 16, 2014

Acts of kindness create a chain reaction

Acts of kindness create a chain reaction

UPDATE: When it comes to kids learning kindness, we’re not looking for perfection, only progress. We’d love to hear about your kids’ progress. Tweet, FB, Instagram or Pinterest, posts, photos or videos related to kindness, it could be a great story, a photo of your kindness chain, a video of someone in your family being kind to a family member, the sky is the limit! Then on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week (Feb 18-20), use hashtags #OlympicMoms #OlympicDads to share your acts of kindness and we’ll find your post with our super cool TINT content curation tool. We’ll gift one mom/family per day a My Growing Up Chart. As my pal, Dr. Lynne Kenney says, “Being kind wins the GOLD!”

Tomorrow is a school holiday here in the States (Happy Birthday General Washington. You too, Mr. Lincoln!) And today wraps up National Random Acts of Kindness Week. In case you missed it, no worries. I’ve officially declared an extension of] RAK. Why? Because without kindness, a day with the kids home from school can be a very loooooong snarky day indeed… especially if the cold keeps the younguns inside and at each others’ throats. Also, it seems fitting to stretch out this kindness thing because we’ve got another week of the  Olympic Games, which are as much about cooperation and respect as they are about competition.

In honor of all of this, I hereby challenge you to challenge yourself and your kids to spend the next week being especially kind to people in your family, friends, neighbors and whomever you meet (online or off).

A Chain of Kindness (mini-art project to prevent spikes in cabin fever)

Here’s a fun way for kids to become aware of opportunities to be kind and helpful. It will also give them a visual experience of how acts of kindness “add up” and make all of us feel happier and more connected.

What you’ll need:

  • Colored paper (plain white paper works too)
  • Scissors
  • Tape or glue (staples work as well)
  • Pens, markers or crayons

 How: Talk to your kids about kindness.

Conversations that Count: Questions for you and your kids to ponder together: What are some examples of being kind? What might happen if there was more kindness in the world? What do you think gets in the way of people being kinder to each other?

Discussion drivers: Think about a recent time you were kind to someone without being asked to do it. How did you feel? What response did you get from the other person? How did that feel? Now think about a time someone was kind to you. How did you feel? How did you express that?

The Kindness Challenge:  As a family, let’s challenge ourselves to increase our acts of kindness over the next 7 days.

  1. Choose a piece of colored paper and cut a strip about 11 X 2 inches.
  2. Write a sentence about what you did in the past week, that was kind – one act of kindness per strip. Sign your name.
  3. Connect your strip with someone else’s, etc. and create “links” using the glue.
  4. Got more than one recent act of kindness? Make another link!
  5. Add to the chain any time you want.

To help the chain grow faster (and the family actively looking for opportunities to be kind) hang the chain in a place where everyone can see it and keep the art materials readily available.

Enjoy… in kindness and let me know how it goes! We can create a chain of kindness story comments right here!


Olympic Love

February 14, 2014

Jeremy Abbott down

Sometimes we’re down

Jeremy Abbott came down so hard on his right hip he just lay there, his music weaving on without him. But the crowd of Russians who adore skaters and know a thing or two about overcoming adversity would not abandon him.

They clapped in unison. They cheered encouragement. They sent  a tidal wave of compassion across the ice aimed at the broken skater pressed against the wall. All that love, with its powerful mojo, washed over Jeremy and he stirred, got to his feet and glided forward into the hearts of the crowd. He skated the rest of his program, through the pain, like an angel in love.

Jeremy Abbott lifted up

Sometimes we are lifted so high

When he took his final bow, the crowd stood and roared their approval.  Jeremy Abbott graciously savored his Olympic moment. Who needs a medal when you have this?

Teachable Moment: Life knocks us down. Love raises us up. 


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