Smart Girls Know Update

Smart Girls Know Affirmation: Smart Girls Know How to Be a Good Friend

If you’re like most teens, your friends are near the top of your list when it comes to important things in your life. And with good reason. True friends are worth their weight in gold. They keep our secrets, accept us for who we are, and always have our back.

But what is it that brings two people together in friendship? Think about your closest friends – the ones you want to text right away when something exciting happens, the ones you turn to in a crisis, the ones you share your fears and dreams with. Chances are, these friends:

  • enjoy the same things as you: hobbies, favorite shows, sports
  • appreciate you for who you are: an emotional, unique, and fabulous individual
  • share the same values
  • are trustworthy

Be The Friend You Want to Have
The people we choose to bring into our lives are often mirrors of ourselves. What I mean is, the way we behave in our friendships and towards our friends is often the way our friends behave towards us. To attract the kinds of friends you want in your life, start with yourself and be a great friend to those around you. Here’s how:

  • Listen: Who doesn’t like to feel as though they’re being heard and understood? When a friend opens up about what’s happening in her life (both the good and the bad), be a good listener by not judging, interrupting, or responding by turning the conversation to yourself. For more on being a good listener, click here.
  • Share: Open yourself up by sharing your thoughts, ideas, dreams, and opinions with your friends. They’ll feel valued because you’ve chosen to let them into your life, and they’ll also be more likely to let you into theirs.
  • Be Trustworthy: If you’re the type of friend who doesn’t lie, keeps her word, and is 100% reliable, you’ll be more likely to attract the same qualities in your friends.
  • Support: Be there for your friend through good times and bad and you’ll set the standard for how you’d like to be regarded in your friendships.
  • Understand: Know that all friendships have ups and downs, and yes, people do change. If your friend is going through some changes or needs some space, give it to him or her and know that change is normal and doesn’t have to be bad.
  • Don’t Judge: This one can be hard, but is so important! Even if you have strong opinions about what a friend says or does, skip the judgments and instead try seeing the situation from your friend’s point of view.

To read more about my thoughts on friendship, check out my book in the Chicken Soup series, The Real Deal: Friends.

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COMING SOON: An Important Announcement for Teen Writers!

If you’re an avid writer/aspiring teen author, keep an eye out for an email from me in the coming weeks! I’m embarking on a new book project for teens and there will be opportunities for you to be published!

I can’t wait to spill the beans, but that’s all I can say for now. Stay tuned for more scoop soon…


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Stress Q&A:

Dear Debbie,

I’m halfway through your latest book, Chill, and feel I need more specific advice. You talk a lot about speaking up and knowing when to say no, but what if you really can’t do it? I’m the second youngest in my family with 8 years between my younger sister and myself. She’s too young to ride the city bus home by herself or to stay home alone, so I’m always stuck watching her. I also go to one of the top schools in my state and always have tons of homework to do. Between babysitting my sister, doing chores at home, and school, I have no time for myself. I spend all of my time either at home or at school. I’ve had too many breakdowns this year to count, but I can’t tell my parents no. They need someone to help out with my sister because they both work. My only comfort is that in two years I’ll be out of high school and going to college in another state. My anxiety attacks get so bad that sometimes I get sick. Is there anything I can do until then to help manage all of this? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks! Alyson *

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Dear Alyson,

Thanks so much for your note. Sounds like you do have a challenging situation with regards to your family and school responsibilities. I understand that there are some things you just can’t say ‘no’ to, and that is the way it is for many of us. I want to congratulate you for having the perspective to know that things won’t always be this way, and that in two (short) years you’ll be in college and doing your own thing.

My biggest recommendation to you would be to try to do a little something for yourself each day if you can… a little something that’s just for you, that you can own, or that is a way of reminding yourself that while you’re taking care of everything and everyone else, you are a priority.

For me, I do things like going for a quick run, reading a book, taking a nap, listening to music I love, talking with a friend who is a big support, journaling, watching So You Think You Can Dance, etc.). I don’t know what it is for you that recharges you or gives you personal joy, but try to figure it out and find ways to squeeze it into your life. Not only is this a great way to take care of yourself, but it can in turn recharge you to be in a better frame of mind to handle everything you have going on.

You also mention that have a lot of anxiety attacks…. Make sure to read the chapter in Chill about Zoning Out and Tuning In. There’s a section in there on visualization, and I think this is an incredibly powerful tool that could help. When you visualize, you could imagine your life 2 years from now or 5 years from now, and how you hope it will look. Or you could visualize what tomorrow looks like, and imagine yourself handling all your responsibilities with joy and patience.

What I do know is that what we think and tell ourselves affects our emotions and how we feel. Spending even five minutes in bed each night imagining the way you’d like things to be (less hectic, less stressful, etc.) can go a long way in making that your reality!

I hope this helps you, and I encourage you to try out some of the techniques I write about in Chill. Let em know how you’re doing!

XOXO Debbie

* name has been changed

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Patricia McCormickThis Month’s MUST READ!

My book of the month is , by author extraordinaire Patricia McCormick. Sold is the incredibly powerful story of 13-year-old Lakshmi, a young girl living in poverty in Nepal who leaves her family thinking she’ll become a maid in the city to support her family, but instead ends up being “sold” to a brothel in Calcutta, India where she is forced to work as a prostitute.

Lakshmi’s story is told from her point of view in powerful short verse, and readers will follow her journey as she experiences the horrors of being forced into the sex trade, while never losing hope and keeping her spirit alive.

While the idea of being sold into prostitution at the age of 13 is too awful to even think about, sadly it’s a reality for thousands and thousands of girls in developing countries around the world, and I believe that change begins with knowledge. After reading Sold, hopefully teens everywhere will be not only outraged at the plight of these girls, but will feel empowered and inspired to do something about it. Thanks Patricia for bringing such an important, and fairly hidden, topic to light. We can’t wait to see what you write about next!

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Digging Deeper

The selling of children, otherwise known as “trafficking,” is unfortunately nothing new, and it is more common than you might think. Here are some shocking stats from UNICEF:

  • Girls as young as 13 (mainly from Asia and Eastern Europe) are trafficked as “mail-order brides.”
  • Large numbers of children are being trafficked in West and Central Africa, mainly for domestic work but also for sexual exploitation.
  • Mexico’s social service agency reports that there are more than 16,000 children engaged in prostitution.
  • In Lithuania, children as young as age 11 are known to work as prostitutes.

To find out more, or learn how you can speak out against child prostitution, visit Youth Noise, UNICEF, or World Vision.

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Respect RXRespect Rx

If you haven’t yet visited the fabulous website for girls and women, RespectRx, definitely check it out. RespectRx is the creation of fellow girl advocate and all-around super woman Courtney Macavinta, author of (Free Spirit Publishing, 2005) and regular contributor to mags like CosmoGIRL! and Teen Vogue.

Respect RX just featured an interview with yours truly, so please visit the site for the interview (and a fabu picture of me with my Girls on the Run running buddy), and then cruise around to read up on all things girl power. Enjoy!

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