Friendship issues in middle school

Friendship Expert Annie Fox answers your questions on friendship issues in middle school and beyond.

Friendship issues in middle schoolSarah Newton’s Questions, Annie Foxs Answers for Sarah’s hosted stop on the Girls’ Q&A Book on Friendship blog tour.

Q1: How do you maintain a friendship when there are big changes that get in the way. For example: studying/moving to uni or having a family.

 Annie: Now, more than ever, it is easy to maintain connections with people. That said, there needs to be a willingness and a time commitment on the part of both parties, to put in the effort to stay in touch. A friendship, whether at close range or long distance, is a two-way street. It’s not enough for one friend to devote 100% or even 200% to the friendship if the other person doesn’t put in the effort. If you’ve got a child whose friend has experienced a “big change” it may be that this friendship will move into a new phase, for whatever reason. Please reassure your child that the “change” is not due to anything he or she did “wrong.” Explain that sometimes people get focused on other things require their attention more than this particular friendship. If your child is feeling sad because a friendship is slipping away, encourage him or her to express those feelings to their friend. No guarantee that anything will or can change, but there is benefit to have the opportunity to speak up and share feelings. Also, encourage your child to be on the look-out for new friendships. That will help ease any feelings of loss or abandonment. I hope this helps!

Q2: My 14 yr old son pushes other boys away when they try and be mates, as he is afraid of be called gay, he is struggling with his sexuality at the moment. Any coping strategies very welcome. 

 Annie: This is a challenging situation that I believe would be helped with the support of a counselor or therapist who specializes in working with teen boys and their parents. Your son would benefit from a safe environment in which he can talk openly and honestly about his sexuality and his concerns about how getting close to other boys as friends might be interpreted. I would also suggest that as his parent, you also have a session with a therapist. Talking with a trained professional about the most supportive approach to take with a young teen who is “struggling” with his sexuality will be beneficial to you and to your son.

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Quality Time with Teenagers.

Activities That Teens Will Want to Do with Their Parents, Really! Quality Time with your teen.

activities with teens
Quality Time with Teenagers

As most parents of teenagers know quite well, their once-small children who used to cry when they were dropped off at preschool and followed them all over the house have transformed into independent young men and women who would rather hang with their friends than good ol’ mom and dad. How do you spend quality time with your teenagers? While a certain level of independence is a very good thing and parents should be pleased that they are raising teens who have their own ideas and interests, it’s still nice to spend time together as a family.

The following four outdoor activities can help inspire teens to put down their phones for an hour or so and reacquaint themselves with their folks.

Take a Hike

As Family Values Club notes, hiking is an ideal activity for teens to do with their parents. While younger kids can get tired and whiny after a mile or so, teens can typically hike for longer distances and can appreciate related activities like bird watching. If you are not sure about local hiking trails, you can always search AllTrails for hiking hotspots in your city, or you can ask friends who enjoy hiking where they like to head out.

Once the hike is over, head to the ice cream or frozen yogurt shop for a post-hike treat. It’s a nice and tasty way to extend your time together.

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Teens messy bedrooms

Does it matter if your child’s bedroom is a mess?

Don’t Judge me – messy bedrooms!

messy bedroomsThe other day I started to talk about the state of my daughter’s bedroom to illustrate a point about respect. In all of my 14 year of working with parents I am convinced Parents focus on the wrong things when judging if they are great at this parenting job (whatever great is).

They tend to focus on:

  • Homework
  • Grades
  • Chores and the state of their child’s bedroom i.e messy bedrooms.

While these are all valid things I would suggest that when they are older a child will not put their success down to clean bedroom, a perfect report card or three hours of homework a night ! Do messy bedrooms really matter that much?

We judge if  a teen will be a success by the amount of homework they do, their grades and the state of their bedroom. Crazy!

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We teach people how to treat us.

How to teach respect

teenagers respect Over the holidays my youngest spent some time at one of her friends. She had a great time but came home a little perplexed. She couldn’t believe how this friend spoke to her Mum. She said she was “rude, short and  really mean”. It shocked her that someone could speak to their parents that way.

On further examination she said she wouldn’t even think of speaking to me that way. Now I am not passing judgment on another’s parenting here (Lord knows there is enough of that already). However in here I think there is a great lesson which is “we teach others how to treat us”.

When I spoke to my daughter about this she said that she knew clearly what was okay and not okay in our house in terms of how we spoke to each other. She also suggested that she wouldn’t speak to me like that because, I don’t speak to her like that. She felt that is showed a lack of respect in the home and she also stated she wouldn’t really like to live there as everyone was always so angry.

And I think she is right we must be clear on our boundaries and what we will and will not accept. Most Parents focus on the bedroom and how tidy it isn’t,   bedtimes and school work,  I, however have never paid much attention to these things. The only thing I am a real stickler on is how I am spoken to ( and I don’t mean saying Sir and Madam). I think how we treat people is far more important than the state of a bedroom and how tidy we are.

So how do you raise a respectful teen? Show them from an early age what respect is, how someone who has respect for themselves behaves and make it clear what is acceptable and isn’t acceptable.

Effects of Video Games

Teens & Video Games: Finding a Happy Medium

effects of video gamesVideo games are a prevalent part of our culture.  How do you counteract the effects of video games? The Video Game industry is ringing up around $12 billion in annual sales. In addition, studies have found that teens spend up to 7.5 hours a day glued to some type of screen — be it a video game, tablet, smartphone or television.

In order to help ensure that your teen’s adoration of video games does not take over his or her life, it’s important that parents set some ground rules. While you don’t want to necessarily eliminate them from your child’s life all together, you do want to be sure that there is a level of responsibility and accountability tied to gaming. Excessive use can have effects and to keep the effects of video games to a minimum you need to manage how much and how often your teen is playing games and find a happy medium. Consider these tips:

Talk about Impact – the effects of video games. 

Video games are impacting our culture big time!  Most of the effects of video games are still unknown. Empowering Parents suggests speaking with your teen when he or she is not holding a controller, and let your teen know, in a calm and non-confrontational way, that you are a bit concerned about the amount of time he or she is playing games. If there are specific issues you are worried about, bring them up in a neutral way. For example: ”Your grades have dropped in English and Math from B’s to low C’s since you started playing ‘Call of Duty.’ I think the two are connected.” Try telling your teen that you understand that video games are a lot of fun, but that you are setting some new rules in regard to their use.

Devise a Plan

While you might want to drastically cut back on how much time your teen spends playing video games, and counteract the effects of video games, it can be more helpful and effective to take a less heavy-handed approach. Instead, let your teen know one new rule regarding the games, and what the positive and negative consequences will be for following it. Start off by telling your teenage gamer something like this: “Starting tomorrow video games will need to be shut off for the night by 8:30. If you are cool about this when I remind you, we’ll stick with this plan. But if your grades keep dropping or you get mouthy with me when it’s time to turn off the games, you’ll lose video game privileges entirely for the next day.”

Be Aware

It’s important to know what types of games your teen is playing. Depending on your comfort level and how mature your child is, you might let him or her play Rated M games like “Halo” and “Grand Theft Auto,” or you might prefer less violent games like “Guitar Hero” or “Madden NFL.” Regardless of what types of games your allow your teen to play, I Keep Safe suggests keeping the video game system in a family room or living room, rather than in your teen’s bedroom.


Playing video games with your teenager can be a great and fun way to spend time together. Depending on which games you are playing, there can be plenty of opportunities for talking, interacting and even problem solving together. As a way to compromise with your teen about video game time, say that a certain amount will be spent with part or all of the family. For example, if you recently purchased your teen one of the new Xbox One game systems, you can look into buying some Kinect games that get everyone up and moving together, or you can find titles that you can enjoy together. These include active fitness games and hands-on games like “Guitar Hero” or “Just Dance.”