Category Archives: Resources for tween and teen girls

The book of secrets …

Last night, my daughter wrote me a letter.

I found it on my bed.  Well, that’s no entirely true. I found a notebook with a handmade post-it note stuck to the cover saying “PLEASE CHECK” complete with three exclamation marks. Did I mention my daughter is eight?

When I sat on my bed and flipped the book open, I saw my darling girl’s beautiful, scrawly, pencilled handwriting and the word ‘Mum’ at the top. And then I could see all these sentences tumbling out of her head and onto that page. The things which I had no idea were – that night –  knotting her up inside.

Despite the fact I’d bought my daughter this mother-daughter journal a year ago for the exact purpose of her being able to write to me about her concerns, I still thought, “I can’t believe she’s using the journal! “ Followed by, “I’m six-metres away. Why didn’t she just come and tell me?”

And then I remembered.

I remembered when I was 13 and my closest friends were shaving their legs and I really, really wanted to start shaving my legs too. So I waited until my mum was in the shower and then quickly knocked on the bathroom door and blurted out, “MUMIWANTTOSHAVEMYLEGS!”

It was all very Judy Blume.

I remembered the need to speak to my mum about boys or periods or razors without, you know, looking at her. Without having to meet her gaze. Without having her look at me and see how awkward and embarrassed and clumsy I felt.

And timing is everything.

That’s the other thing I remember.

As a tween and teen I felt too exhausted to unpack what went down at school the moment I walked in the door home at 4pm.

“How was school?” mum would ask.

“Fine,” I’d mumble.

No mention of my worries about my upcoming science test. Or that Brendan Windsor has no idea I was even alive. Or that I think I’m possibly the only person not invited to Megan B’s birthday party.

How was school? Fine.

It wasn’t until much later into the evening I’d start to uncoil and feel ready to revisit the soap opera that had unfolded in Modern History or French or P.E.

Thirty-five years later and nothing has changed.  After school my daughter’s main focus is changing out of her uniform and finding out what’s for afternoon tea.  The stories don’t start to spill out of her until those minutes after I’ve turned out her bedroom light.  We sit in the dark together – me perched on the side of her bed – and we talk. Or she talks and I listen. Or I talk and she listens (every night she badgers me into telling her a story from my 70s and 80s childhood. “You rollerskated? What’s a Pool Pony?  Who’s Kirk Cameron? Did you ever get in trouble in class? )

But in those moments in the dark she feels both loved and known and safe.  But sometimes I think even saying your worries out loud feels too hard.

So, the letter.

What was she writing about? Well that would be telling.  First rule of Fight Club: What’s discussed in the notebook stays in the notebook.

I re-read her question a few times, picked up a pen and wrote back to that eight-year-old sleeping down the hallway. I signed it off by saying, “I love that you wrote to me. Write to me again anytime.” And I placed the notebook on her bedside table to read when she woke in the morning.

At breakfast she said nothing but flashed me a knowing smile.

I love that she wrote me a letter.

I love that it gave me the chance to sit and really think about my answer as I wrote back to her.

And I love that for the rest of her life; she’ll have this notebook filled with my handwriting. My voice and hers. And our connection.

Last night my daughter wrote me a letter. The first of many, I can only hope.

 

FYI: The mother-daughter journal I bought my daughter can be found here. https://www.booktopia.com.au/stationery/just-between-us-meredith-jacobs/prod9780811868952.html?source=pla&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIsc-b8Pf-1QIV3AMqCh3e2wDKEAQYAyABEgJEuPD_BwE

Or you can make your own for the tween or teen in your life

 

My 10 yo daughter wants Instagram. What do I say to her?

Yesterday the 10-year-old daughter of a friend of mine asked me when I thought her mum should allow her to have Instagram.

The first thing I did was ask her why she wanted to be on it. She said that all her friends were already on it and that when they talked about things they saw and shared, she felt left out.

Don’t you remember that feeling? I so utterly get that. It’s that feeling of being out of the loop. Not part of the conversation. Not in on the joke.

But here’s what I said to her about Instagram (and every other social media platform).

I said that what we know is that Instagram (and most other social media platforms) are not great for our brains. And that they are highly, highly addictive. I said that just like every adult I know who still smokes and is trying desperately to give up, (nearly) every adult I know is trying desperately to spend less time on their phones and on social media.

I said that while I TOTALLY understood that desire to stay in the loop that she needed to think about how joining Instagram she’d be trading one set of problems for another set of problems. Suddenly every time she logs on she’ll be confronted with every party, every outing, every get-together she wasn’t invited to. And she’ll have to constantly remind herself when she’s looking at her friends’ photos that it’s their highlights reel — even on those days when she feels her most fragile or lonely or blah.

I said that she’ll have the rules her mum and dad set her about who she can follow or friend and when she can log on. But there’ll be a whole other set of often unspoken rules that her friends make. You can’t look “up yourself’, can’t look like you’re bragging or showing off or trying too hard. All that type of thing.

And of course, she’ll have to have really good judgement about what she posts and what she LIKES and how she responds to all manner of things in her feed. Every like, every share, every mean-spirited off-hand comment become part of your online legacy. Your behavior online (and your history of behavior online) is on the list of what future employers look at. Your choices online tell the world what you stand for which is a lot to ask of a tween or teen.

But most of all I said that as she goes into high school I would like to see her living her life with both hands. Swimming. Bike riding. Rock climbing. Knitting. Sewing. Baking. Playing netball or basketball or hockey or rugby or soccer. Building. Sculpting. Painting, Singing. Dancing. Writing. Composing. Playing guitar or piano or violin.

You can spend your days creating and doing OR you can spend your days looking down at your phone, obsessing over likes and viewing every moment, every interaction as to how it can best be curated for Instagram.

Social media is highly addictive. It has a habit of white-anting our lives when we don’t have strong boundaries in place.

And it has a tendency to leave us feeling miserable.

Wait, I said. Wait. Trust me.

A letter to my niece before she starts high school …

My gorgeous 12 yo niece Elouise starts high school next week and so this week I sat her down to give her some Aunt-to-niece advice about what i wanted her to know.

Below is what I told her.

Of course she’s used to hearing me bang on about finidng your tribe (though you can never say it enough!!). But I came up with four other points I wanted to really talk through with her … everything from how most bullying starts to playing team sport to working to be a part of her new school community.

Anyway — here’s my advice to my two nieces Elouise and Emily and to every other tween and teen who is heading to high school next week.

I’ll be thinking of you all! (Nerves are normal!!)

xxx

1. Find Your Tribe

I know, I know. I’ve been banging on about this for about a decade but frankly it feels truer now than ever.  There is not much you can control in your life when you’re a tween or a teen. But the one thing – and possibly the MOST IMPORTANT thing – which you *can* control is WHO YOU CHOOSE TO HANG AROUND.  Find your tribe.  Your tribe are those people who get you. Who share your core values. They like you for who you are and they’ve got your back. These are the friends who are loyal and kind and you feel good about yourself when you’re with them. Any fights or spats you have with them are minor and it’s only good natured teasing that occurs (any really mean teasing is unintentional and true friends will apologise). If you’re spending your time hanging out with girls (or boys)  who routinely put you down, make fun of you and humiliate you then MOONWALK OUT OF THERE, SISTER!   Most importantly true friends bring out your best.  If you don’t like who you are and how you behave when you’re with your current friends — that’s a big red flag.

Now you might have a tribe of five friends – terrific!  But all you need is one true friend whom you can trust.

Keep in mind that sometimes it takes a while to find a person from your tribe.  Sometimes you’re a bad fit for the school you’re in.  Hang in there.  Seek out friends outside of school who ‘get you’.  Bide your time. It doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with YOU just because you haven’t found that great friend just yet.

BONUS ADVICE:  If your goal is to be happy in high school (and that’s every student’s goal, isn’t it?)  … keep in mind that research tells us that the biggest driver of happiness is time spent IN PERSON with authentic friends (someone from your tribe!).  No amount of texting, Skype messaging or Whatsapping comes close to being in person with your favourite friend where you feel safe to vent and be your true, daggy self.  Keep that in mind throughout your life — always prioritise in person catch ups.

2. Understand The Destructive Nature Of Gossip And Work Out Who To Vent To

High schools run on gossip. Stories. Rumours. Whispers.  And according Rosalind Wiseman – author of “Queen Bees And Wannabes: Helping your daughter survive cliques, gossip, boyfriends and the new realities of girl world” girls  in upper primary school and high school see gossip as a way to bond. BUT it’s also how they wage war on each other and humiliate each other.  Nearly every teenage girl (and every woman) gossips to some degree but let’s be clear — gossip is the source of pretty much all high school drama and bullying, The more you engage in destructive gossip, the more you get involved in spreading rumours about other students, the more tumultuous your high school days will be. Information is power in high school – I get it. But it comes at a cost.  And that cost can be extraordinarily high when that gossip forms part of a full-scale bullying campaign designed to isolate and embarrass someone. Lives can be destroyed especially when rumour-spreading happens online.

Wiseman makes three things very clear in her book:

* How much you gossip (as a parent) directly influences how much your child gossips.

* The younger you give your child a mobile phone or device, the sooner she’ll be exposed to  and participate in gossip (think Skype Messenger, WhatsApp and even just text messaging)

* There is a difference between venting and gossiping  Everyone needs to vent (or debrief) when something big has happened.  True friends won’t spread your confidences as gossip (creating enormous turmoil for you).  Be careful with your words both about yourself and about others.  Wherever possible, choose kind. And share your own personal stories and secrets ONLY with those friends who have proven themselves to have your back. You can find Rosalind Wiseman’s book here: https://www.booktopia.com.au/queen-bees-and-wannabes-rosalind-wiseman/prod9780749924379.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMInPmNzf3a2AIVUgwrCh10RQ_1EAAYASAAEgKodPD_BwE

3. Join In.

This is the great secret to enjoying high school which I wish someone had told me at the time. JOIN IN. Become a part of the community. Participate. Another one of the big drivers of happiness is when we feel like we’re part of a community, when we feel KNOWN. Walking into a place and having teachers and reception staff and  the tuckshop volunteers say, “Good morning, Bec!” can make a big difference in how you feel about yourself and school. It sounds hokey but it can help you feel safe and cared about. But there’s only so much schools can do as they try to get to know all the students. So you have to step up.  Join in. Volunteer. When there’s a students versus teachers basketball match on at lunchtime – GO.  By letting the teachers get to know you,  you’ll in turn feel like you’re part of something an belong.

4. People Can Be Jerks But That’s Not Bullying

When I was in year 8, every afternoon as I walked to the bus stop a boy in my class would yell out, “See you, Rubella!”  Rubella instead of Rebecca. Get it? Hilarious (not). So would you call that bullying? Nope. That, my friends, is called HIGH SCHOOL.  David called me Rubella every day and I replied every afternoon with “Shut up, moron!” and kept walking. #goodtimes #clearlynotchoosingkindinthatmoment

For something to be bullying it has to not only be repeated more than once, there also has to be a power imbalance.  There wasn’t a power imbalance between David and me.  I wasn’t intimidated or threatened or scared of him. People in high school can be jerks. People will be mean. They’ll behave badly. Welcome to life!  This is why you want to work on your resilience and your inner grit and find ways to brush off those moments. That said, the moment you feel “ganged up on” and/or scared is when you go to an adult in your life and let them know.

5. Play A Team Sport

Exercise is great but that’s not why I want my nieces to continue playing team sports. Research shows that playing a team sport builds your self-esteem, your confidence, helps with goal setting and teaches you about team work. When homework and assignments and study is all too much — there’s something about MOVIN

#DoItForDolly

I remember 14. My life was about watching Young Talent Time, trying to learn the lyrics to the Bangles’ Manic Monday, perming my hair, writing fan letters to Michael J Fox and hanging out with my tribe – my two best friends, Lyn and Robin. That was 1986. It’s easy to look back at that time through rose coloured glasses. But girls are girls and I can certainly recall it wasn’t all rainbows and lollipops. Year 9 is not for the feint hearted. But I was lucky that home was a haven and a respite if I’d had a bad day. At home I had peace. The internet was yet to come to Chapel Hill, Brisbane.

In 2018, thousands of Australian kids cannot find that elusive peace and we all know why. All those shiny devices and social media platforms we’ve rushed to hand over to our kids – kids who have yet to build up their empathy muscle or understand the consequence of their behaviour – mean that bullying is now a round-the-clock occupation for some angry and hurting teens. They are waging online bullying campaigns for little reason other than they think a fellow student is too up herself or lame or a loser or doesn’t wear the right clothes or listen to the right music. Or for no other reason than their target has a self-confidence they find baffling and enviable.

Our kids have no respite because we have taken it from them by allowing our kids all hours access to their devices with no monitoring of what they are doing or saying online.

Dolly Everett was just shy of her 15th birthday when she decided the online bullying she was enduring was too much to handle any longer. Last week she ended her life.

And Dolly is not alone. The suicide rate for 15-24 year olds – according to mental health organisation Orygen – is the HIGHEST it has been in a decade.

9bee6855c838912d4f0c2f19e799cd36I feel gutted for Dolly’s beautiful family – how do you make sense of such a needless loss? Amy Jane “Dolly” Everett should be here.

And I feel heartbroken for every child who today is dreading the thought of going back to school later this month because school is a living hell, a place where they feel tormented and alone.

So where to from here?

I don’t have the answers. What I do know is that our children are watching us and so often they are modelling their behaviour on ours. And I just see so much anger and rage EVERYWHERE.

I see anger on our roads with drivers becoming apoplectic because why? Someone made a mistake? Cut them off by accident? Or was driving too slow in the wrong lane?

I hear about it at the school gate. Story after story told to me about GROWN WOMEN embarking on full-scale bullying campaigns against other mothers. It’s like something out of Big Little Lies.

I see it at social sport. I LOVE playing social netball but the bad behaviour, the UNSPORTING behaviour is at times mind-blowing to me. Sneaky, underhanded tactics. Swearing at opponents and umpires. General on-court agro as though we’re playing for sheep stations.

And we wonder why teenagers behave badly? What example are we setting them?

We all make mistakes. We all behave badly at times. I know I have – I’m not Mother Teresa either. But all this anger and bitterness is just making things worse. How about this:

1. Let’s cut each other a little more slack and realise that most “injustices” done to us aren’t personal and don’t require a big stick response. Take a breath before you race to admonish someone whether that’s in traffic, on court or at the school P&C.

2. Let’s communicate better. Think about the tone of your emails or text messages. If you have an issue with someone speak to them in person or pick up the phone. Emails and texts messages are easy to mis-mood — you are leaving it up to the recipient to decide on your tone and most of us choose the worst case scenario!

3. Never underestimate the power of a sincere apology.

4. As parents it is our job to teach our kids to be empathetic. Ask yourself what kind of behaviour you’re modelling to them. Are you mocking other people in front of your kids? Are you inclusive often inviting new people to join your group? Do you show concern for the feelings of others?

5. Can we stop smugly saying “We’re no longer hiring?” when it comes to meeting new people? Some of the greatest friendships in my life are with women I’ve met out of the blue in recent years. Make room for newcomers!!

6. Pay attention to what your child is doing online. Random spot checks on their social media is a good idea — sit with them and take a look together to see what types of conversations they’re engaging in.

7. If you’re spreading gossip – breaking confidences – at work or school — you are part of the problem.

8. I learnt a great tip from Jono Nicholas from ReachOut last year. He told me that sometimes it’s really hard for kids to articulate their feelings. So instead of asking, “Are you okay? How was school? How are you feeling?” – ask them to rate their day out of 10. And rather than ask them the moment they get home — it’s often later at night when they’re willing and ready to open up.

9. Can we all try and get a bit more sleep? Sleep deprivation unravels you.

Let’s try harder to walk into 2018 looking through a more empathetic lens.

Final thought: A friend once said to me, “When the shit hits the fan and you have to choose between conspiracy or f*ck up – it’s usually f*ck up.” In other words, we need to give people the benefit of the doubt that we WEREN’T deliberately excluded or cut off or whatever. So often it’s not personal and we need to be aware of the ‘story’ we create in our heads about a negative event.

You want to stop kids being bullied? It starts with US. You and me.

Do it for Dolly. #stopbullyingnow

*** If you are being bullied or your child is being bullied — speak up. You have a right to feel safe in your school or workplace. If you are struggling and feel alone, please call one of the following numbers …

Lifeline on 13 11 14
Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467

I want you to join me on #teamgirls …

When I was fifteen if you’d asked me what my life purpose was, I would have mumbled something about marrying Kirk Cameron and working as a children’s TV host. Neither happened (I blame the corkscrew perm and stone wash jeans. Thank you, 1987). But still, back then if I had a “purpose” I figured it was to be a reporter on Wombat or Simon Townsend’s Wonder World.

Thirty years later and my answer is crystal clear.

These days I feel like my purpose is to help teenage girls traverse that tricky path from childhood to adulthood. My purpose is to help teen girls (and their parents) navigate high school friendships, have a more positive experience online and understand that despite what society tells them they are enough just as they are.

Low Resolution_web optimised-30It’s why I write books like Find Your Tribe and Ask Me Anything.

It’s why I go into high schools and talk to teenage girls about resilience and giving back and the idea of your high school legacy and – most of all – the power of finding those friends who like you for who you are and have your back.

And it’s why I’ve agreed to be an Ambassador for #TeamGirls – an initiative put together by Suncorp, Netball Australia and ReachOut, Australia’s largest online youth mental health organisation.

They came to me and said this initiative isn’t about financial services. Or netball, for that matter. It’s a group of organisations coming together to ask: How can we help young girls feel confident? Confident about their bodies. Confident about their abilities. Confident with money. How can we help our girls navigate the mixed and confusing messages society fires at them? What part can we play to teach them about friendship and being role models for each other?

So, I said: You had me at hello.

As part of my work with #TeamGirls this year I’m going to be writing stories, creating a podcast, hosting events and generally encouraging all of you to be a part of the #TeamGirls movement. If, like me, you want our daughters, our granddaughters, our nieces and goddaughters to feel confident in their own skin, to have the skills to navigate high school friendships, to know how to tap into that inner grit when life throws them a curveball, to back their opinions and their ambitions and to support each other to be the best they can be – well, congratulations and welcome to #TeamGirls. Let’s do this. https://teamgirls.com.au/articles/

Before You Hit Send – social media tips for parents + tweens + teens

STEP 1.  BASIC ONLINE DO’S & DONT’S

  1. Don’t use your child’s photo or real name when setting up apps or certain social media accounts.
  2. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know in real life.
  3. Don’t agree to meet up with people you don’t know in real life.
  4. Don’t chat to randoms online – even if you think they’re kids. Social media and gaming apps are stalked by adult predators looking for children to groom. 
  5. Don’t give out your address, school or phone number online to anyone. And don’t share your passwords!
  6. Most importantly – check the privacy settings on the platform or app you are using (see tips below)
  7. Follow Susan McLean – Cyber Safety Expert, Leonie Smith – The Cyber Safety Lady and Be Web Smart on Facebook to get regular updates on the latest dangerous and dodgy apps and safety tips for your tech devices. 

 

STEP 2. SECURE YOUR DEVICES

  1. You want to stop strangers from finding out where you live, work or go to school which they can easily do from the photos and videos you post.  Turn off Geo-Tagging on your camera.  Otherwise geographical information is added in the form of metadata to photos, videos, SMS, websites. Go to  LOCATION SERVICES and turn it off for your camera and any apps that don’t need it. (See Social Media Reputation Management booklet for instructions)
  2. TURN OFF Frequent Locations which can tell anyone who picks up your phone where you live.  
  3. If your device gets stolen or your friends decide to play a prank by hacking your account — you want to be able to stop them from accessing your device!  Have a pin number on  all your devices. And don’t tell your friends your pin numbers or log in details.
  4. Again to stop people accessing your accounts – set up Two-Step Verification On Accounts:                  Facebook:  Account > Settings > Security > Login Approvals          Apple          Google          Twitter
  5. Set up restricted viewing on Google, YouTube, your Mac or PC. Click here to access notes on setting YOUTUBE to “Restricted Mode”
  6. For younger kids (10 and under) Use YouTube Kids, Kiddle  or Safe Search Kids (powered by Google) . Remember: no amount of net filtering replaces parent supervision!

USEFUL LINKS

FREE Social Media Reputation Management’ booklet from the Australian Federal Police. It details privacy settings for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and mobile devices.

Social Media Platform Safety Centres: FULL LIST of contacts

FACEBOOK: Basic Privacy Settings  and   How Can I See What My Facebook Profile Looks Like To Other People?   YOUTUBE TUTORIAL

INSTAGRAM:  Privacy & Safety Tips for Instagram

SNAPCHAT: Safety Tips for Snapchat

SAFE SEARCH ENGINES FOR KIDS:  YouTube Kids, Kiddle, Safe Search Kids 

Who’s Chatting To Your Kids?: Queensland Police Force

The advantages of helping kids navigate the digital world – The Atlantic 

15 Useful  iPhone Hacks including setting ‘Do Not Disturb’ on your phone so you can’t receive messages while you’re studying 😉

More iPhone hacks including getting more storage

How to save data on you iPhone: the small hack that can make a difference to your data use.

 

USEFUL APPS

HELP ME – The Denise and Bruce Morcombe Safety App.  Download this app for 99cents and any person can call for help at the push of a button.   “The ‘Help Me’ button sounds a warning and allows you to send off an SMS text to two (2) nominated ‘safety’ numbers, as part of your Trusted Safety Network. Included in the text are GPS co-ordinates from where the text was sent, so the sender can be located or a last known place of contact is indicated.”

Checky  This app will tell you just how often you  (or your child) check your phone! 

Send This Instead  Humorous ways to respond when you’re asked for a naked pic

OurPact  Free parental control app that limits screen time and access to apps and sites.

Colour Therapy Popular free colouring-in app

Chore Bank:  The app that lets you keep track of your kids’ chores and the pocket money they’ve earned.

Canvsly: a clever app to help you digitally store your children’s artwork 

 

YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT

Set up a Google Alert for your name and email address so you can keep track about what’s said about you on-line. 

The resume is dead: your next click might determine your next job – The Guardian

Your digital footprint matters – Huffington Post

Be Social Be Smart – the power of positive posting. A terrific Brisbane-based company who specialise in presentations for year 10-12  high school students on their digital footprint. 

 

CELEBRITIES TALKING ABOUT STEPPING AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA

Ed Sheeran takes a break from Twitter due to abuse. 

Gigi Hadad on social media increasing her anxiety and her decision to take a month away from social media. 

 

CYBERBULLYING

The most important thing to remember if you are being cyberbullied is that you’re not alone and there are adults who can help you.

Keep evidence of the bullying (save emails, take screenshots of messages or posts), delete and block the bully and report the problem to the Safety Centre of the platform or app (you can find a full list here).  And most importantly tell an adult you trust. And keep telling adults until someone does something to help you. 

Office of the eSafety Commissioner 

How To Take A Screenshot On Any Device 

Report Cyberbullying: Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner

Legal Aid Queensland: Laws surrounding cyber-bullying and what to do about it. 

The National Children’s and Youth Law Centre, can provide free legal advice for anyone under 18, or anyone acting on their behalf.

Bullying No Way website for kids, teens, parents and teachers

 

HOUSEHOLD INTERNET AGREEMENT / PARENTAL CONTROL APPS

FREE Family Internet Safety Agreement created by the Australian Federal Police.

List of different parental control apps

FREE OurPact parental control app that limits screen time by blocking internet and app access.

Review of OurPact app by the Be Web Smart site.

How To Find Hidden Apps On Your Child’s Phone

 

CONSENT/PORN/NAKED SELFIES

Avalanche of Violent Porn Affecting Our Young

The National Children’s and Youth Law Centre, are experts in sexting and the law, and can provide free legal advice for anyone under 18, or anyone acting on their behalf. If you find naked images on your child’s device, take a breath and ring these guys first to get some clear, calm advice on how to proceed.

Legal Aid Queensland: The law surrounding sexting and sharing naked images

Send This Instead:  a free app providing humorous responses to help young people say no when pressured to send intimate photos.

It’s No Coincidence A Vile Instagram Account Was Set Up By Boys From An Elite Private School by Catherine Lumby

A Letter To My Son About Porn by Harriet Pawson

Consent is like a cup of tea — a video designed to help young men  and women understand the concept of consent. IMPORTANT!

 

RECOMMENDED READING

The advantages of helping kids navigate the digital world

Sexts, Texts and Selfies by Susan McLean (Australian)

Keeping Kids Safe Online by the Leonie Smith, the Cyber Safety Lady (Australian)  

 

RECOMMENDED SITES
The Cyber Safety Lady  (Australian)

Be Web Smart: For the analog parent in a digital world (American)
CommonSense Media (American)

 

RESOURCES FOR YOUR TEEN WHEN THEY NEED HELP

ReachOut 

Headspace: National youth mental health foundation 

Youth Beyond Blue

Kids Helpline or call 1800 551 800

Parentline: 1300 30 1300 www.parentline.com.au

Lifeline: 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au

Relationships Australia: 130 364 277 www.relationships.org.au

1800Respect Online: 1800 737 732 www.1800respect.org.au

Child Safety Services (Qld): 1800 177 135

www.communities.qld.gov.au/childsafety/protecting-children

The List: My go-to resources for tween and teen girls …

Here it is. My go-to list. (If you’re looking for my list of resources for teenage BOYS click here)

I feel like so many parents are feeling anxious and panicked about the world our daughters currently live in. Every day we’re faced with screaming headlines about teenage sex. Binge drinking. Eating disorders. Depression. Risky online choices. ARGH! But let’s not panic. As someone who is regularly in high schools talking to teenage girls — the girls I get to meet are smart and funny and strong BUT that’s not to say they don’t need help navigating this new world we’re in. (I cannot tell you how glad I am that smart phones didn’t exist when I was 14). So what I’ve listed below are just some of the terrific websites, books and docos I would recommend to anyone who has a tween or teen girl in their life. The most important thing I can say to you is that there is no ONE conversation to have with your daughter about online choices (or friendships or sex or whatever for that matter). All of these topics are BIG and it’s about having lots of conversations all the time. Start a running dialogue which includes items in the news, storylines in books or movies or TV shows and other issues that come up day to day. Keep talking. Everything is a “teachable moment”. Think back to what it was like being in high school. And practice listening to your daughter.

This list is just a starting point. There are loads of other great books and sites out there. List your suggestions in the comments! And I’ll keep adding to this list too.BiMsRN3CIAAS2fg

Here’s to raising strong, smart, fierce girls who refuse to play small ….

Bec Sparrow xxx

SOCIAL MEDIA pages for you and your daughter to follow

Here’s the thing with social media (whatever platform you use Instagram, Facebook etc) is that you need it to work FOR you not against you.  If the only people you’re following are friends (or friends of  friends of friends!) then you’re mostly just looking from side to side.  Make sure your  feed is full of people who make you look OUTWARDS.  Fill it with people who inspire you, who call forth your best, who remind you of your values or what you stand for or who simply make you laugh.  This is about protecting your headspace —  so think about curating your feed so that what is given priority are those people and organisations who make you smile rather those who leave you feeling less than.

The Atlas of Beauty:  ‘Female photographer Mihaela Noroc travels and captures the natural beauty around the world showing the diversity of our planet through portraits of women.’
Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls – Who doesn’t love Amy Poehler? Right? This is a great resource for female role models and women doing cool things around the world. Official blurb: “Founded by actor and writer Amy Poehler and producer Meredith Walker, the Smart Girls organisation is dedicated to helping young people cultivate their authentic selves.”
A Mighty Girl – A Mighty Girl is the world’s largest collection of books, toys, and movies for parents, teachers, and others dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls

TeamGirls – In 2017 ReachOut, Netball Australia and Suncorp joined forces to start a movement to help tween and teen girls feel more confident in their abilities, their bodies and their ideas. The Team Girls movement is all about girls supporting girls and their website (go to the ‘content hub’) has lots of great advice for parents and girls on social media, setting goals and navigating friendships.
Beauty Redefined — A not-for-profit site dedicated to redefining the meaning and value of beauty in our lives.
The Body Image Movement  Celebrating body diversity and body positivity – a site created by Australia’s Taryn Brumfitt. (AWESOME! And Australian!)  While you’re there also show them the Dove Evolution video. Yes, I know it’s Dove. And it’s been around for a while but this video is still a great reminder to tween girls about AIR BRUSHING OF IMAGES!
Enlighten Education  Enlighten Education runs programs in schools to help girls decode the mixed messages they receive. Enlighten is all about girls developing their self-worth. AMAZING Australian organisation run by Dannielle Miller.

ReachOut  ReachOut is Australia’s largest online mental health website for young people and it’s AMAZING.  It’s full of tips, strategies, resources and advice. All free. All confidential.  This is a great one to follow on social media since they post so many practical, useful articles.
Geena Davis Institute On Gender In Media  “If she can see it, she can be it.”  Great feminist site about the representation of women in media.This site will arm you with facts and stats. “The Institute is the only research-based organization working within the media and entertainment industry to engage, educate, and influence the need to dramatically improve, gender balance, reduce stereotyping and create diverse female characters in entertainment targeting children 11 and under.”

Hey Sigmund: where the science of psychology meets the art of being human.  This is a GORGEOUS, USEFUL website for parents and non-parents alike. Psychologist Karen Young offers wisdom + the latest research on everything from relationship break-ups to parenting young kids and teens. GREAT RESOURCE.

Orange Sky Laundry: This is what good men look like.  Two Brisbane men (uni students and mates) created the first mobile laundry service providing homeless people with access to free washing/drying facilities. LOVE.

UN Women Australia “Empower a woman, empower a nation. The Australian National Committee for UN Women is one of 18 National Committees worldwide. We are committed to gender equality and the empowerment of women. Join us in supporting women and girls worldwide by ending poverty, ending violence against women and creating a better future for all.”
Children’s Books Daily — this site run by award-winning Brisbane teacher-librarian Megan Daley is my go-to source for kids and YA recommendations. Megan KNOWS books like nobody else. If you or your tween/teen are looking for reading recommendations, Megan has them.

Words With Heart – an Australian company who produce eco-friendly notebooks and journals for girls and women. Fantastic covers! And part of the profits go towards educating girls around the world.  The WWH Facebook page is always full of interesting posts about women and feminism.
Penguin Teen (they do a great FB page on what’s hot in YA books)
Smiling Mind – teaching kids and adults about mindfulness and meditation. Their app is TERRIFIC.

GIVIT and GIVIT KIDS (a great not-for-profit site that encourages people to donate their unwanted, no longer needed items to specific people in genuine need. Givit Kids allows Australian kids to help other Aussie kids in need.)
The Women’s Legal Service Queensland Interesting articles and stats on domestic violence as well as how to spot it and how to get out.

RIZE UP:  Providing practical assistance to Australian families affected by domestic violence.

Charity Spam: An Australian hub for all things socially kind. Get involved in your community.

 

A FEW OF THE INTERESTING WOMEN I FOLLOW ON SOCIAL MEDIA 

Here are just a few you may not already be following …

Celeste Barber:  This Australian comedian’s hilarious Instagram account pokes fun at the ridiculousness of many celebrity social media posts.  LOVE.  
Turia Pitt – Um, it’s TURIA PITT. She’s fierce. (Turia is pictured below.)

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Emma Watson  Actress (beloved for her portrayal of Hermione in the Harry Potter films) she is a feminist, UN Global Goodwill Ambassador and actor.

Dawn Tan Brilliant Singaporean-Australian artist from Melbourne who specialises in quirky food  and nature paintings!

Karni Liddell:  Former paralympian  Karni is  a journalist, diversity educator and disability specialist.

Brene Brown:  Brene is a research professor at The University of Houston studying vulnerability, courage, shame, and authenticity. www.brenebrown.com

Cate Campbell and Bronte Campbell:  Olympians, World Record Holders, Australian swmming legends

Laura Geitz: Former Captain of the Queensland Firebirds and the Australian Diamonds. Netball, baby!

Casey Donovan:  Girl can SING!  Cassie’s enthusiasm for life and music is infectious.

Mindy Karling: Mindy is an American actress, comedian and writer best known for her TV series The Mindy Project (which she created and starred in) and her role on the US version of The Office. She’s a strong, smart role model for girls. Love her.

Gal Gadot: the Israeli actress starred in Wonder Woman in 2017 and her social media account is authentic, uplifting and feel good.

Natalie Cunningham: Indigenous Australian swimwear designer and creator of Emu Designs.

Ashley Graham Model, designer, author and body image activist.  Ashley is one of the most successful super models. She also happens to be plus-size (what does that even mean in 2017? Nearly all of us are plus size!)

Dr Susan Carland: Muslim sociologist Dr Susan Carland is the author of Fighting Hislam: Women, Faith and Sexism.

Mia Freedman:  Creative genius, feminist, entrepreneur, empire-builder, tea-lover and the co-founder of the Mamamia Women’s Network. BOOM.  Mia’s podcast No Filter is where she has extraordinary conversations with some of the most fascinating women (and men) in the country.

Beverley Wang:  Beverley is the host of the must-listen ABC podcast It’s Not A Race and an executive producer of Radio National Drive.

Taryn Brumfitt:  Taryn is a writer, speaker and founder of the Body Image Movement.  She’s a force of nature and most famous for her globally successful documentary EMBRACE which investigates why so many women loathe their own bodies.  Tarryn is an internationally recognised positive body image activist!

Chrissie Swan:  hilarious, brilliant TV and radio host. Mum to three small people. I love her.

Caroline Overington: Caroline is a two-timeWalkley-award winning journalist and best-selling author.  You want your daughter to be following smart, strong women? Caroline Overington is one of them.

Dannielle Miller: Danni  is the CEO of Enlighten Education which is Australia’s leading provider of workshops for girls on self-esteem. body image and empowerment.  Danni’s social media feed is always full of interesting and insightful ideas and commentary about women, girls and feminism.

Meshel Laurie: Meshel is more than just a comedian, a columnist and a radio host, she’s an activist.  Meshel is using her time in the sun to spotlight important social justice issues.

Tara Moss author, speaker, feminist and ambassador for the Full Stop Foundation  (an organisation dedicated to putting an end to sexual assault and domestic violence).

Natasha Stott Despoja Natasha is Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls. She is a  former politician and former leader of the Australian Democrats. Natasha’s Twitter feed is always informative and inspiring.

Gloria Steinem:  Feminist icon, writer, activist.

Jean Kilbourne:  Jean Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising. She is must famous for her documentary KILLING US SOFTLY

Malala Fund Inspired by teenage activist Malala Yousafzai, this page is focused on allowing girls to go to school and raising their voices for their right to an education.

Melinda Gates  Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, businesswoman, and mother. Dedicated to helping all people lead healthy, productive lives.

Michelle Obama: Because, you know, it’s MICHELLE OBAMA

J.K Rowling:  No explanation needed, really.

Jamila Rizvi – writer, presenter, political junkie.  I fully suspect Jam is going to end up as our next female Prime Minister. Just watch …

Maya Angelou: Facebook page of the late, great author, poet and  feminist

Elizabeth Gilbert  the official FB page of author Elizabeth Gilbert is hilarious, fiesty and kind. She does swear a lot so keep that in mind if your daughter is younger and/or you are easily offended.

Carly Findlay – award-winning blogger, writer and appearance activist

Gretchen Rubin   The New York Times best-selling author is a happiness expert. Gretchen posts lots of links and interesting research on habits and happiness.

Other great names for teenage girls to have on their radar:  journalists Sarah Ferguson, Julia Baird, Annabel Crabb, Leigh Sales, Kate McClymont, Dr Fiona Wood, indigenous author Dr Anita Heiss,  Captain Catherine McGregor, indigenous author Tara June Winch, the late disability activist Stella Young, Olympian Anna Meares, cook Poh Ling Yeow, entrepreneur Therese Rein and Australia’s first indigenous woman elected into the Lower House Linda Burney MP.

 

BOOKS – NON-FICTION for you and your daughter to read

 

Fantastic book for tween and teen girls

Fantastic book for tween and teen girls

Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls  – 100 tales of extraordinary women. This book is FANTASTIC.  Makes a terrific birthday present for a tween or teen girl.  VOLUME TWO will be published in November 2017.

Amazing Babes by Eliza Sarlos (this book is BRILLIANT — gorgeous hardcover brimming with female role models. Makes a great present!)

Girls Think Of Everything: stories of ingenious inventions by women by Catherine Thimmesh and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
How To Be A Woman by Caitlin Moran My favourite book on feminism by comedy writer Caitlin Moran she covers everything from brazilians to strip clubs to abortion to workplace sexism.
Girl Stuff by Kaz Cooke (this is the bible on everything relating to teenage girls — great resource to have. Note: there is a new edition coming out for girls aged 8-12)

 

Good Selfie by Turia Pitt.  I cannot recommend this ebook highly enough. Turia answers the questions she is most often asked by teens — most of which have to do with her resilience.  The book is practical and full of clever strategies and ideas of how teens can get through tough times in their lives. LOVE IT.  It’s an easy to read format – perfect for kids aged 10 and up.

Speaking Out by Tara Moss (I haven’t read this yet but it comes highly recommended)
Half the Sky: turning oppression into opportunity by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
Embrace by Taryn Brumfitt
The Girl With The Butterfly Tattoo by Danielle Miller
Lovability: an empowered girl’s guide to dating and relationships by Dannielle Miller and Nina Funnell (Great book!)
The Gift of Fear (and other survival signals that protect us from violence) by Gavin De Becker
For Foxes’ Sake: everything a fox needs to know about sex by Row Murray – this is a really great book by an Australian author that dishes up terrific advice about sex and your body. Highly recommend.
Ugly by Robert Hoge

How To Be Happy (a memoir of love, sex and teenage confusion)  by David Burton

Everything to live for by Turia Pitt
If you are Christian and want something reflecting those values then go for books by Sharon Witt.

My non-fiction books for teenage girls …AMA
* Find Your Tribe (and 9 other things I wish I’d known in high school) by Rebecca Sparrow
* Find Your Feet (the 8 things I wish I’d known before I left high school) by Rebecca Sparrow
* Ask Me Anything (heartfelt answers to 65 anonymous questions from teenage girls) by Rebecca Sparrow

BOOKS – FICTION for you and your daughter
My current recommendation are:

Take Three Girls by Fiona Wood, Cath Crowley and Simmone Howell. This is a page-turner of the book which deftly handles themes of friendship, identity, bullying and feminism.  Girls in grade 9 and over will relate to the storyline of an anonymous rumour-based website targeting (and shaming) local high school girls.
Saving Jazz by Kate McCaffrey – this is a YA novel which is incredibly powerful about online behaviour, consent and the ramifications of sharing naked images without someone’s consent. It’s blunt and realistic – expect f-bombs but it will speak to many teens. Great to see a novel dealing with the issue of sharing naked images from the point of view of three perpetrators (two male and one female).

I also love Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell and Wonder by R J Palacio.

 

BOOKS – NON-FICTION FOR PARENTS
Girls and Sex: navigating the complicated new landscape by Peggy Orenstein (this is BRILLIANT)
Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein
Sexts, Texts And Selfies by Susan McLean (also known as the Cyber Cop)
Queen Bees and Wannabes (helping your daughter survive cliques, gossip, boyfriends and other realities of adolesence) by Rosalind Wiseman
Keep an eye out for articles online written by Mia Freedman who writes terrific stories on feminism for Mamamia.com.au
The Butterfly Effect: raising happy, confident teen girls by Dannielle Miller
Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Option B: Facing adversity, building resilience and finding joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant   This is a must-have book for every household, in my opinion. 

Everything to Live For by Turia Pitt

VIDEO FOR PARENTS:  Rosalind Wiseman (author of Queen Bees and Wannabes). This is a talk she gives on parenting teenagers.

DOCOS

Big Bad Love: With young women 18-24 being most at risk of abuse, Australian comedian Becky Lucas sets out to understand what an abusive relationship looks like, how it begins and why it’s so hard to intervene.

Killing Us Softly 4 – Advertisings image of women:  this doco is based on Jean Killbourne’s lecture on gender stereotypes and the image of women in advertising.

Miss Representation – this 2010 doco explores how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in influential positions by circulating limited and often disparaging portrayals of women.
Embrace by Taryn Brumfitt (pre-order on iTunes now) ** this is a must-watch for all tweens and teens
He Named Me Malala (the story of Malala Yousafzai)
Bully

VIDEOS

PINK’S VMA SPEECH on body image: “We will not change.”

We Should All Be Feminists TEDX Talk by Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  This Ted Talk is brilliant and discusses the importance of feminism. It’s so powerful that Beyonce sampled part of this speech in the opening of her song Flawless.

Consent is like a cup of tea — a video designed to help young women understand the concept of consent. IMPORTANT!

Texting While Driving — some young drivers talk about their texting and driving habits and then are faced with a woman who lost her family to texting driver.

INTERESTING ARTICLES/COLUMNS

The X-Plan: give your kids a way out 

Emma Watson will no longer take selfies with fans for this important reason

Anxiety in Kids: How to turn it around and protect them for life

This one phrase will stop gossip immediately

Have smartphones destroyed a generation?

Children need close pals not popularity

Charm Offensive: A surprising red flag for domestic violence (Sydney Morning Herald, 2016)

Four Things To Remember During Schoolies Week by Rebecca Sparrow

To The Men I Love About The Men Who Scare Me

The Day Iceland’s Women Went On Strike

PODCASTS

#TeamGirls in 10:  This is a podcast I host which is perfect for teen girls to listen to in the car!  Each episode is only 10 minutes long and joined by a different expert each week we cover Body Image, Sleep, Friendships, Sport Participation, Social Media and the role dads, uncles and other men can play in the life of teenage girls.  #TeamGirls in 10 is powered by Suncorp.

Also No Filter by Mia Freedman will introduce you to some of Australia’s most fascinating people. Past interviewees include Lisa Wilkinson, Captain Catherine McGregor, Ita Buttrose, Sarah Ferguson and Gloria Steinem.

 

STATIONERY

Words With Heart is an Australian company who produce eco-friendly notebooks and journals with fantastic covers for girls. Covers that say things like “She believed she could so she did” and “Small acts can change the world” and “Be Bold Be Brave Be Kind”. Best of all the company donate a percentage of their profits to educating girls around the world.

POETRY (!!)

Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou

The Storms Will Come by Tyler Knott

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

The Journey by Mary Oliver

Invictus by William Ernest Henley

 

RESOURCES FOR YOUR TEEN WHEN THEY NEED HELP (I’m only listing a few — I have a full long list at the back of each of my books)

ReachOut

Headspace: National youth mental health foundation 

Youth Beyond Blue

Kids Helpline