Archive for Educators

When you join GAPRA, you’ll have the opportunity to learn from 10 training calls and Q&As per year. You’ll also get to hear from our handpicked faculty members, including parenting expert Brenda Nixon, M.A., author and parent advocate Sue Scheff, and Internet security consultant Christopher Burgess. We’re excited to have them on board for our special faculty calls, and we’re working on securing additional faculty members to provide expertise and up-to-the-minute insights for you. For details about our faculty members to date, visit

If you want to learn even more about GAPRA, please join our GAPRA Informational calls. The informational and Q&A calls are the best way to find out everything you need to know about the valuable resources we’ve assembled for schools, youth organizations and all of their staff, parents and volunteers.

Join us for these free informational calls:

September 14 — “How to Affordably Equip Your Entire Community to Prevent Emotional Bullying with GAPRA Membership”

September 22 — Q&A about GAPRA

Click here to find out more and register today!

Get these calls and recordings free, and you will be one step closer to preventing relational aggression in your school or youth organization.


Learn About GAPRA 9/14 and 9/22!

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Hello, all! Blair and Jane here, it’s back to school for everyone, and it’s time to learn more about GAPRA, the Global Alliance for Preventing Relational Aggression.

Visit to read our news release about GAPRA on the Media page. We’re excited to share this free series of informational and Q&A calls about GAPRA in September, and we hope you’ll join us. The calls (and recordings) are free, and when you attend, we’ll let you know how to get a special bonus offer!

So register for that free call now by clicking here!


What Would You Do If a Girl Called You a Mean Name?

In a recent When Girls Hurt Girls® workshop, I asked the girls what they would do if they were called a mean name.  A second grade girl raised her hand and answered, “I’d call her a name back.” The revenge strategy is a typical response for girls that age.

Usually, an adult replies to such responses by telling girls, “Don’t do that.” But telling them not to seek revenge doesn’t teach them to do their own thinking.

Helping a Girl by Going Into Curiosity Mode

I recommend making the most of this teachable moment and going into curiosity (not judgmental) mode. The script goes something like this:

You: “So you’d call her a name in return. Hmm, that sounds like an interesting strategy. How would that make you feel?”
Girl: “It would make me feel good.”
You: “I can understand that.  So what do you think might happen next?”

Let’s pause here. Remember, the goal of the curiosity approach is to help the girl think through the consequences of her actions.

The conversation might continue something like this:

Girl: “She might cry, or she might call me the mean name again. She might call me another mean name, too.”
You: “Is that what you want to have happen?”
Girl: “No.”
You: “What do you want to have happen?”
Girl: “I want her to be nice to me.”

Helping Her Defuse the Situation

At this point, you can help guide the girl toward strategies that will help defuse the situation. Two of the best strategies are to ignore the name-calling and to speak up.

When girls ignore the name-calling, they take away the power of the name-calling by not reacting. Speaking up is another great strategy in this situation, because it empowers the target to take matters into her own hands and preserve her dignity as well as offer dignity to the other girl.

The target could respond to the bully with, “When you call me that, I don’t like it. I want you to call me by my name.”  Then, she should walk away.

With girls in second grade and younger, we translate the 3 Ds (Dignity for me, Dignity for you, Defuse the situation) into the 3 Okays: I feel okay, you feel okay and the problem works out okay. Revenge doesn’t achieve the 3 Okays in any bullying situation.

With your coaching, your girls will learn to think through the consequences of their actions. This will help them see that revenge is ineffective and not an okay strategy.

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at


Hey, everyone! It has been a whirlwind of activity as we launched the Global Alliance for Preventing Relational Aggression in June! We are so excited to share the free audio from the GAPRA Sneak Preview and Q&A calls. On these calls, we discussed what GAPRA is all about and answered questions we received from around the world!
People from California, Florida, Texas, Washington and many other states around the country sent in their questions. We even received a question from the Federated States of Micronesia! Here are some of the questions we covered:
• What is GAPRA?
• How do we join?
• What does it cost to join GAPRA?
• How will GAPRA help elementary schools?
• How will GAPRA help parents and teachers to work cooperatively?

It was really energizing to connect with others who share our passion for preventing relational aggression!  We received many comments like “I’m so psyched about this program!” We couldn’t agree more! If you’re involved in a school setting or youth organization, please take advantage of the free audio so you can learn more about GAPRA today!

When it comes to relational aggression (RA), a.k.a. emotional bullying, many schools and youth organizations don’t know what to do. It’s easy to make mistakes, and yet the training needed to effectively address RA can be expensive. Besides, wouldn’t it be great if we could prevent RA and the scars it leaves on a child’s self esteem?

Based on feedback from you and other principals, teachers and youth organization leaders, there’s an affordable RA prevention training solution on its way! You’re the first to learn about:



The Global Alliance for Preventing Relational Aggression

Hope and Help for Targets, Bullies and Bystanders of Emotional Bullying.


We can’t wait to unveil the details to you on this important call on June 15, 2011!!

 Click Here to Read Part 1

“What do I do when I keep saying I’m sorry, but my friend won’t forgive me? Sometimes I don’t even know what I did wrong!”

In this article I explore the way some girls manipulate apologies by feigning hurt or sadness to control the girls who allow them to do so.

Females and Apologizing

 Females have a tendency to apologize too much.  When someone bumps into us, we are inclined to apologize for being in someone’s way.  If our kids forget to take their lunches to school, we apologize for not noticing as they raced through the door without their lunch boxes.  And if someone has hurt feelings, we rack our brains to figure out what we might have done to cause their pain.  Is it any wonder then that girls apologize to friends who hold them hostage through the manipulation of apologies?

It’s All About Connections

This is oh-so-common in girls’ world, so let’s look at it through the lens of connections.  The female brain seeks connections to others because of its organic hard wiring.  Let’s see how this plays out with elementary or junior high school girls.

A Typical Story

Girl A and Girl B are a part of a larger friendship group.  Girl A has been bossy and hurtful to Girl B.  Girl A’s intention is to separate herself from the person who causes her pain.

Girl B – I don’t want to be friends with you anymore.  You’re mean! 

Girl A (beginning to cry) –That’s not true!

Girl B – It is too!  (She walks away from Girl A).

Girl A begins crying harder.  The other girls in the group notice this.  They approach her and listen to her story about Girl B not wanting to be friends with her.  The group of girls approach Girl B and admonish her for hurting Girl A’s feelings.  Girl A returns to Girl B to apologize.

Analysis of the Situation

All of the girls in this scenario were motivated by their need for connections. 

Girl A wanted either to stay connected to Girl B or strengthen her connection with the group.  She cried to manipulate an outcome.  The crying could have been authentic due to upset feelings, but the outcome desired was a connection.  A girl who learns to use this powerful manipulation technique to her advantage often is able to get what she wants.  Unfortunately for her, however, she risks becoming unable to ask directly for what she needs.  Crying or blaming others lasts only as long as the group is unaware of her MO.  This girl eventually may only become capable of surface relationships, need to change friends or switch jobs frequently, or become a leader through the abuse of power at the expense of others.

Girl B wanted to disconnect from Girl A, but her desire for group connection was much stronger than her need to unhook from an undesirable relationship.  The ultimate hope for Girl B is to realize her needs won’t always be compatible with a group’s need for cohesiveness, and it’s OK to leave a group that is hurtful or unhealthy.  The best-case scenario for this girl is to come to understand that group membership needn’t supersede her need for health, safety, well-being, or happiness.  The worst outcome is that this girl will stay in abusive relationships.

The Group saw Girl B’s behavior – as explained by Girl A – as divisive.  It caused ripples in group cohesiveness.  Of course, if the girls had waited to listen to both sides of the story, the outcome may have been different.  The pressure to change or apologize could have been transferred to Girl A.  Groups usually tend to the greatest reaction first, though.  They act first and ask questions later.  Group cohesiveness at all costs creates a tendency to overlook and undervalue individuals’ needs.  This can lead to reality blindness and the loss of thinking for oneself.  Girls who only follow the crowd are, well, only followers.  Opportunities to become transformational leaders and creative thinkers become slimmer.

Back to the Question

 So, how can we help girls who keep apologizing even when they know there is nothing for which to apologize?  There’s a 1, 2, 3 answer.  Teach them to:

  1. Ask questions to learn the other person’s perspective.
  2. Honestly examine their behaviors to determine whether they own part of the problem.
  3. Trust their personal power guidance system, listen to their heart or gut and act accordingly, and own their behavior only.

 How Expensive is This Friendship?

Taking responsibility for someone’s hurt when you didn’t cause it doesn’t help anyone.  It’s a way to stay stuck for both parties involved.  Apologizing for a hurt you did not cause in order to keep a friend or group acceptance is very expensive.  It costs you your self-respect by holding you a prisoner of someone else’s wants and needs by sacrificing your own.  Please help the girls in your life to understand this.

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC 

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at

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When Girls Hurt Girls® Helps Educators Start Relational Aggression Prevention in Kindergarten
Free Live Teleclass for Educators, Counselors and Youth Groups

Relational aggression (a.k.a. RA or emotional bullying) can begin among girls as young as 2.5 years old. Early prevention is the key to happy, well-balanced girls, and educators, counselors and youth group leaders can get the help they need to start young girls off right. On Thursday, March 3, 2011, at 3:30 p.m. central time, A Way Through, LLC, will conduct the second of two content-rich calls focused on helping young girls through friendship problems. Register now for “When Girls Hurt Girls®: 3 Compelling Reasons to Start RA Prevention in Kindergarten (And How to Do It Right)” at The live teleclass is free; the audio/transcript download is available for $5. 

“Most people think of relational aggression as a ’tween or teen problem, but research indicates that relational aggression starts as young as age 2.5. As soon as girls start making friends, their emotionally charged wiring can result in emotional bullying,” said Jane Balvanz, an elementary school counselor and co-founder of A Way Through, LLC. “Fortunately, girls this age and in kindergarten through grade 2 are very open to adult guidance, so it’s a great time to share the tools and techniques they need to work through their own issues.”

“As adults, we must stop swooping in to solve problems for our girls. This sends them the wrong message — that we don’t trust in their abilities,” said Blair Wagner, co-founder of A Way Through, LLC. “Instead, let’s work with them to nurture their self confidence. Let’s help them groom their social skills, so they can speak up, think of others’ feelings, and become independent problem solvers who can manage anything life throws at them.”

With this teleclass, A Way Through celebrates the completion of its curricula for When Girls Hurt Girls® Grades K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. The Grades K-2 curriculum will be complete in March with the release of the Audio CDs and Role Play Cards to accompany the K-2 Parent Pack. These age-appropriate materials introduce two new techniques that enable educators and parents to coach girls who are not yet able to read and provide responses that allow girls to think and feel for themselves.

Those who attend the teleclass will learn how to receive a limited time offer on these materials. Register for the teleclass and purchase the teleclass transcript and audio files at

About A Way Through, LLC

A Way Through, LLC, equips educators and parents to guide girls in grades K-8 through painful friendships. The company developed When Girls Hurt Girls®, a series of CDs, educational guides and other products, to empower girls to solve their own friendship problems. A Way Through also offers workshops for schools, youth organizations and others to help educators, parents and girls handle the difficult situations girls face with relational aggression. For details, see

“What do I do when I keep saying I’m sorry, but my friend won’t forgive me? Sometimes I don’t even know what I did wrong!” 

This is a standard question girls ask, and it boils down to one major factor. Girls are reluctant to address conflict directly.

And it’s not a matter of being too nice or unassertive.  It’s a matter of brain wiring and also not knowing what to do.  Girls are wired to be relationship connectors, and conflict is viewed as a BIG disconnect.  Thus, it’s is avoided at all costs – even at the cost of a friendship.

Here’s a pattern of reasoning that makes the question above so difficult for girls to resolve.  Let’s say that Girl A asked the question, and Girl B is the unforgiving friend.

Girl A’s reasoning:

  1. I upset my friend and need to apologize.
  2. I apologized, but she won’t forgive me.
  3. I’ll keep apologizing until she forgives me.
  4. I’m upset, because my friend won’t forgive me.

Girl B’s reasoning:

  1. My friend hurt my feelings.
  2. She apologized, but I’m still hurt.
  3. I don’t know how to tell her how much she hurt me.  She might not like me if I do.
  4. I won’t talk to her, because I don’t know how to make this better.

As you see here, we have a failure to communicate. When you dissect the reasoning, you see that #3 for both girls is the sticking point.  Girl A keeps apologizing, but Girl B won’t say how much she was hurt.  And so the circle goes.

Fortunately, there is a solution.  It comes in the direct teaching of social skills in the areas of how to extend an apology for Girl A and how to express your feelings and speak up when you’re hurt for Girl B.

Girl A needs to know that not all friends forgive, and one apology plus a further check in is all she can do.  She must learn to move on.  Girl B needs much practice in speaking up assertively when a conflict occurs instead of hiding behind the façade of being unforgiving.  She must learn how to speak up to ask for what she needs in a friendship or how to move on from one that’s untenable.

Now is it just me, or did anyone else detect a smidge of manipulation in the question above?  You know, the part that says sometimes I don’t even know what I did wrong.  In Part 2, I’ll address the emotional bullying technique of keeping a friend hostage through the manipulation of apologies.

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC  

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at

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Appearance on Iowa Public Radio

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Hi, everyone! Jane and Blair here. We’ve been so busy working on our K-2 audio and role play cards for When Girls Hurt Girls®, we almost forgot to mention that we were on the radio in January! We were so excited to be asked to be on “Talk of Iowa” on Iowa Public Radio to share insights on guiding girls through emotional bullying.

To hear us on the show, please listen on our Media page at: or click here.

Thank you to Iowa Public Radio and “Talk of Iowa” host Charity Nebbe for addressing this important topic and including A Way Through in the conversation!

And please join us on March 3 at 3:30 p.m. Central Time for a detailed teleclass series (#2 of 2), “When Girls Hurt Girls®: 3 Compelling Reasons to Start Relational Aggression Prevention in Kindergarten (and How to Do It Right).” Get details and register now at!

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What Do You Wish You Knew?

When I facilitate girl-to-girl friendship mentoring training sessions for middle school girls, I start with a question.  I ask… What is the most important thing you know about friendships you wish you knew in elementary school?

The girls think about this for a moment, and here is what they typically say:

1. You’ll have different friends in middle school

Girls entering middle school are surprised to discover their friendships change.  Cliques (or posses) they thought were permanent tend to evolve or dissolve when they enter their middle school years.  This creates new friendship opportunities.

Girls also report that multiple sports and activities introduce new groups of friendships to them.  Girls new to middle school are pleased to learn they can be part of multiple friendship groups.

Their advice for elementary school girls:  Try out new friendships in addition to your regular friends.

2.  You’ll like girls you didn’t like in elementary school

Often very young girls think if someone is not their friend, she must be their enemy.  They draw rigid lines around friendships.

Middle school girls say they’ve learned to open up to new friendships and new kinds of friends, even girls they didn’t like before.  They have a wider range of friends.

Their advice for elementary school girls:  Be open to new friendships with girls you didn’t think you’d like.

3.  It gets better

Middle school girls report they had a harder time with friendships in elementary school.  They say friendships get easier as they get older.

Their advice for elementary school girls:  Don’t worry if things don’t go well in a friendship.  It will keep getting easier.

Relational Aggression in Middle School

Interestingly, relational aggression and female bullying tends to peak in the middle school years.  Girls this age who have the opportunity to learn about friendship dynamics and discover how to be positive advocates for themselves and for others see friendship problems shrink.  They become empowered and love to share their wisdom with younger girls!

© 2011 A Way Through, LLC  

WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it: Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at

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Untitled Document When Girls Hurt Girls™ Parent Pack

Do you feel unequipped to help your daughter or students navigate painful friendships?

Finally, the instruction manual you need to help your Kindergarten – Grade 8 daughter or students find their way through painful friendships

Listen to the program introduction here.

When Girls Hurt Girls™ is a home practice guide for parents who want to help their hurting daughters, but don’t know where to start. It's also PERFECT for use in school or small group settings.

Through loving discussions and role-play exercises, your daughter or students will connect with their personal power and gain the confidence to resolve conflicts and attract the right kind of friendships to their lives.

REMEMBER: Works great for educators and group/team leaders too!  

Untitled Document

Do you need help in guiding your daughter through a difficult friendship situation?

Finally, 1-on-1 personalized help is available to assist you in guiding your daughter through her friendship problems now!

Introducing a new way to get support…

Our new Quick Assist program has been developed for parents who want help that’s tailored to their specific situation. Through no-nonsense strategy sessions, you will gain clarity on what to say to your daughter, what not to say, and how you can become a source of inspiration and support for her.

REMEMBER: Works great for educators and group/team leaders too!  
Click here
to learn more about the Quick Assist package.