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.

“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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The girls in my class can’t stand each other!

November 9, 2014

The Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship blog tour is in Australia. Specifically at KeystoneCreations and the Sing to Learn blog of educator Nuala O’Hanlon. Because of the girl-friendship dynamics she sees at school everyday, Nuala has some pointed, in-the-trenches questions for me. Like this one…

Nuala: As a teacher, I see how mean and hurtful girls can be to each other at this age. How would you go about dealing with girls who are in the same class, can’t stand each other, and are mean to each other at every opportunity?

Let's talk about this together

Let’s talk about this together

Annie: You haven’t said how old the girls are, but if they are at least 2nd grade, the first step would be to have a community circle with all the girls in the class… those who you see as “part of the problem” as well as those who are not contributing to the nastiness. The goal of this meeting is not to vent about past hurts. As facilitator, you must make sure that doesn’t happen. The goal is to engage girls in the process of finding solutions moving forward.

You might open the circle meeting by saying, “I’ve been noticing certain behaviors in our class that make me very sad. I see girls not letting other girls play or sit with them at lunch. I see girls pushing other girls away with their words and with certain expressions on their faces. I see girls talking in unfriendly ways about girls behind their backs. This is a problem for everyone in the class. Because I know you girls are very smart, I thought I’d ask for your ideas of how we can make our classroom a friendlier place.”

Be patient. Be calm. Exude confidence in the girls’ ability to be creative-problem solvers. Make sure you provide every girl a chance to share ideas for making things more peaceful. Take notes on a white board as the girls brainstorm. End the meeting with action steps to begin the next day.

If this doesn’t improve the situation, I’d suggest you get parents involved along with the school counselor.

Read the rest of my Q&A with Nuala.

Teachers, what are some of your classroom challenges with girl friendship issues?

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