We've all had friends say it to us and we've all said it to our friends and family. "I'm fine" can be code for "I'm not really ok but I don't have the energy or words to explain and I'm not sure if you really want the truth." By asking "how are you really?" we are telling the other person that we care and want to help. Sometimes the act of talking about something can make them feel better. But if your friend shares that they want to hurt themselves or someone else, find an understanding adult who can help. Talk to a school counsellor, chaplain or teacher, a parent, aunty, family friend or someone else you can trust.
Everyone encounters mean girls, especially during your teens. On her Enlighten Education blog, Danielle Miller outlines some conflict resolution guidelines. She said it's important to be assertive, but not aggressive when dealing with mean girls. Sometimes how you say something, is more important than what you say. You can read the full post here (it's the Towards Safer Schools article).
The Supre Foundation, together with the Telethon Kids Institute and Headspace, have put together this fantastic little book about Bullying. It is full of useful tips and information about bullying, friendship, self-esteem and staying safe online. Best of all, it is free! You can pick one up at your local Supre store or download one here.
Sometimes you feel loneliest in the middle of a busy crowd. Everyone else is busy chatting and laughing in their cliques and groups while you're standing awkwardly on the outskirts. If you find yourself in this situation, more likely than not, your inner mean girl will remind you how much of a loser you are etc. Instead of listening to her, tell her to zip it and go and find someone to talk to. Chances are, they are feeling just as lost. Act as though you are confident, even if you don't feel it. You never know, you might make a life long friend.
It's important for young people to have adults in their lives other than their parents who they can talk to and spend time with. Maggie Dent refers to these people as lighthouses as they help guide the way. These people can be grandparents, aunties, teachers, coaches, friend's parents, youth pastors... If you haven't got someone you would consider a lighthouse, try to find one. Being a teenager is hard work sometimes and it's good to have someone to talk to.
The Center for Young Women's Health has a useful article in their Teen Talk newsletter on how to help a friend who is self-harming - you can find it here. There is also a link to information about self-harming. The Website has lots of information related to young women's health - including anxiety, sexual health, diet, exercise and eating disorders. It is American so some of the information is not relevant in Australia.