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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 www.awaythrough.com/teleclass. 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 www.awaythrough.com/teleclass.

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 www.AWayThrough.com.

“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 www.AWayThrough.com

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Feb
10

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: www.awaythrough.com/media.htm 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 www.awaythrough.com/teleclass!

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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 www.AWayThrough.com

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I have long been thinking about the word civility.  When President Obama used the word in his speech at the memorial service for those killed and injured on January 8, 2011, in Tuscon, Arizona, I felt compelled to write about it.  The purpose of this article is to look at the function of civility in relationship to relational aggression. 

Civility is courtesy or politeness, a formal politeness and courteousness in speech and behavior.  Its synonym is mannerliness.  We commonly use the word nice instead of civil, especially with young children. Often the word respect is used instead of civility.  They are very close cousins.  But when someone has been relationally aggressive toward you, has acted as your emotional bully, it’s hard to address them with respect.  Respect means we hold the one who has bullied in some manner of esteem.  Truthfully,  “some manner of esteem” could be particularly low esteem.

Yes, I am quibbling over semantics.  Yet when I look at the opposite meaning of civility, I see all the qualities that make up relational aggression: rudeness, back talk, inconsideration, disrespect, and inappropriateness.  When extrapolated out into the adult world, we can see how our youth are exposed to incivility daily.  There are examples in international relations, media coverage, talk shows, in our homes, and out on the street.  Incivility breeds incivility.

When relational aggression happens to our daughters, students, or girls in our charge, use the opportunity to talk about civility.  Repeated relational aggression will need some type of response, and a civil response or action will have a greater chance of ending bullying than an uncivil one.  Civility breeds civility and has a good chance of leading to respect.

Begin teaching the word civility to children by third grade.  They will catch on quickly, especially if they hear it repeated.  It will help them understand bullying and friendship problems in a deeper, richer way.  Use everyday situations to illustrate the meaning.  Here are a couple of examples:

(In the media) “Those two people are world leaders.  They aren’t showing much respect to each other.  If they want to solve their problems, they need to show civility when they speak to each other no matter how much they disagree.”

(Daily life) “Mia has bullied you for quite some time, but you haven’t spoken up to her yet.  I know you don’t like her and what she does, but when you speak up to her, speak civilly.”

I admit I am a Wordie (I love words!).  I also like offering kids the opportunity to expand their vocabularies.  Introducing the word civility helps to increase their social and emotional verbiage.  So, am I suggesting the words “nice” and “respect” to be passé or misused?  Absolutely not!  But if you know some inquisitive kiddos who question speaking respectfully to someone they do not respect, speaking civilly might make more sense to them.  In that case, civility turns out to be a pretty “nice” word.  I hope you can respect that.

© 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 www.AWayThrough.com

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Resolution #1:  I resolve to stand up for myself.

Resolution #2:  I resolve to pay attention to which friends feel good to be around and which friends don’t.

Resolution #3:  I resolve to walk away from situations I don’t want to be part of.

Resolution #4:  I resolve to think about what I want in a friend.

Resolution #5:  I resolve to smile at girls who don’t have friends.

Resolution #6:  I resolve to be a Positive Active Bystander™ when I see bullying.

Resolution #7:  I resolve to practice using a strong voice.

Resolution #8:  I resolve to ask for friendship help from a trusted adult when I need it.

Resolution #9:  I resolve to be honest with my friends.

Resolution #10:  I resolve to trust my gut over what anyone else says.

Resolution #11:  I resolve to stand tall.

Resolution #12:  I resolve to avoid negative text messages.

Resolution #13:  I resolve to do what feels right to me.

Resolution #14:  I resolve to try out new friends.

Resolution #15:  I resolve to say goodbye to friendships that aren’t healthy for me.

Resolution #16:  I resolve to ask questions when I realize I’m making assumptions.

Resolution #17:  I resolve to let go of sarcasm.

Resolution #18:  I resolve to speak up instead of get revenge.

Resolution #19:  I resolve to say how I feel.

Resolution #20:  I resolve to respect myself as much as I respect my friends.

Resolution #21:  I resolve to look for friends who treat others kindly.

Resolution #22:  I resolve to ignore negative gestures.

Resolution #23:  I resolve to stick with friends I can trust.

Resolution #24:  I resolve to be open to making lots of friends.

Resolution #25:  I resolve to avoid gossip and rumors.

Resolution #26:  I resolve to stay away from friends who manipulate and use relational aggression.

Resolution #27:  I resolve to keep others’ secrets private.

Resolution #28:  I resolve to talk to girls who are being given the silent treatment.

Resolution #29:  I resolve to never say, “Just kidding.”

Resolution #30:  I resolve to be myself.

© 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 www.AWayThrough.com

Click here to read Part 1 in this series.

Bonding with a bully isn’t exceptional in grades K-2 girls, for they are freshly learning the ins and outs of friendships.  Our role as parents and educators is to guide them through the process.  We want them “through” it, because we don’t want them bound to a hurtful relationship.  We can help prevent or loosen the ties that blind.

A chilling fact is the five major thought processes that bind girls to a bully are the same five major thought processes of women who return to or remain in abusive relationships.

  1. There must be something wrong with me.
  2. There is something in it for me.
  3. This is normal.
  4. Who am I without this friendship (relationship)?
  5. This is comfortable.

What Can Be Done

It’s important to start teaching bullying refusal skills at an early age, so girls will have a lifetime to hone and practice them.  We do this to prepare and inform rather than scare or alarm.  Girls who know how to refuse bullying will have a direct impact on reducing it.  Here are the five factors necessary to developing bullying refusal skills in girls:

  1. Bullying awareness
  2. Assertiveness skills
  3. Positive self-esteem
  4. Exposure to healthy relationships
  5. Self-trust of what feels good or bad in a friendship

Loosening the Ties, Taking Off the Blindfold

Bullying refusal skills help prevent bonding with the bully and are crucial to a girl’s healthy development.  And they can help prevent workplace or domestic abuse in the future. Because when bullying feels comfortable or normal, you can’t tell the difference between what feels good or bad anymore.  And those are the ties that blind.

© 2010 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 www.AWayThrough.com

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We just learned that the When Girls Hurt Girls® Parent Pack from A Way Through, LLC, was named Winner of The National Parenting Center’s 2011 Seal of Approval. This program is an independent testing procedure conducted to judge a variety of products introduced and marketed to the parent/child consumer market.

The review states, “This program empowers girls with realistic responses that are appropriate and effective. There are two wonderfully written guides that are filled with great ideas and examples.”

Click here to read the full review from The National Parenting Center.

A Way Through is honored to receive this award, which we dedicate to girls everywhere!

“I just don’t get it.  A girl in my classroom is bullied mercilessly by a girl she considers a friend.  She is betrayed and ridiculed yet consistently returns to the very girl who hurts her, hoping the next time will be different.  It never is, though.”    Sharon – middle school teacher

Many parents and educators have puzzled over why some kids don’t learn that they needn’t continue to be friends with someone who bullies them.  It seems brilliantly obvious to us these bullied kids are being used and abused.  Why can’t they see it?  That, by the way, is the wrong question.  Most kids are aware when they are treated badly.  The correct question is this: Why do they return for more?  The answer lies in how and why they are connected to the bully.  What type of bond exists?

In healthy relationships, conflict arises but abuse is not tolerated. Unhealthy relationships have unequal power distribution and abuse of that power.  This is true with adult relationships and childhood or teen relationships.  The difference with childhood friendships vs. adult friendships is that kids are still learning and experimenting with relationships. As they grow, we hope children detach from hurtful friendships, learn from them, and gravitate toward friendships that nourish them.

Blinding Bonds

When our children repeatedly return to a friendship in which they were treated badly, it’s helpful to recognize why they have bonded with the bully.  We need to help them sort out the thoughts that blind them from exiting unhealthy relationships.  Here are five major thought processes that bind targets to bullies.

  1. There must be something wrong with me. This child believes there is something wrong with her instead of the bully.  She feels she must continue to change and mold herself to be liked.  It never occurs to her that she is OK as she is, and something is amiss with the bully.  She keeps returning so she can get it right.
  2.  There is something in it for me. There is a payoff for this girl in the form of acceptance, popularity, or status – at any cost.
  3. This is normal.  A girl without many friendship experiences or only bad friendship experiences may think hurtful friendships are the norm.  Often adults reinforce this thinking through confirming “that’s just the way girls are.”
  4. Who am I without this friendship?  Girls who have been in a long-term hurtful friendship cannot fathom their identities outside of the relationship. 
  5. This is comfortable.  Although this thought seems counterintuitive, targets can become comfortable with the bully.  Bullying is traumatic, and the phenomenon of trauma bonding can occur.  Comfort can come from the predictability of bullying.

 To be continued with part 2…

© 2010 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 www.AWayThrough.com

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Hi, there. Through emails to our VIP list, we completed a four-week exploration into how to guide grades K-2 girls to become independent friendship problem solvers. Their success depends on these 5 Key Friendship Skills:

  • Skill #1 — Self Trust
  • Skill #2 — Decision-Making
  • Skill #3 — Assertiveness
  • Skill #4 — Bullying Refusal
  • Skill #5 — Conflict Resolution

Read on for a complete recap of all 5 skills!

If you haven’t already, you’ll want to make sure you register for our F-R-E-E telelcass event on Tuesday, November 16, where we’ll share more information.  It’s easy!  Just click this link to reserve your seat on this call.  

http://www.awaythrough.com/teleclass3.htm

NOTE: Use this same link to register for our FREE teleclass on March 3, 2011, also!

During this FREE 45-minute teleclass by phone on November 16th, you will find information on “When Girls Hurt Girls®: How to Guide Grades K-2 Girls Through Painful Friendships and Emotional Bullying.”

Friendship Skill #1: Self Trust 

The foundation of building thriving friendships for all girls (and women) is Self Trust.  In order to connect with others who will feed them with healthy interactions, young girls need to learn how to trust their inner guidance system.  This shows up in the form of gut hunches, intuition, a voice in their head.  They learn what and who feels right for them, and what/who doesn’t.

When girls as young as kindergarten learn to trust their inner guidance system, they tap into the inner knowing that will help them choose friends wisely.  They’ll learn that if it feels bad, it is bad.  Self Trust helps young girls identify if there is a problem.  This is a great jumping off point to the second key skill, Decision Making.  

Friendship Skill #2: Decision-Making

Once our girls have developed self trust, they must then make a decision to do something about a friendship that feels bad.  Lingering in its uncomfortable feelings and negative energy makes for an unhappy girl. Through your guidance, she can come to understand she has options in the matter.  She does not have to stay stuck in the hurt. There is really something she can do about it!  A K-2 girl can and will learn there are several choices she can make concerning friendship woes.  When suitable choices are laid out for her, she can learn to decide which options feel comfortable to her.

A grade K-2 girl who has honed her decision-making skills knows there is a way through painful friendships. With practice, she can come to think of her own options. Soon enough she will become confident in deciding what to do.  The world opens wide for the girl who becomes skilled in the art of decision making.  One of the keys to developing high self-esteem is understanding a decision must be made and then making it.  That’s an element of personal power!

Friendship Skill #3: Assertiveness

We’ve said (1.) Self-trust will help a girl know that if a friendship feels bad, it probably is bad, and (2.) Decision-making is the next process she must go through to choose what she will do about it.  Assertiveness (#3) is the quality she needs to carry the decision out.  It implies confidence.  A girl who has made a decision to do something about a hurtful friendship must now take a step to do so.  With assertiveness, she carries out her decision.  Even one who is reluctant to speak up to her friend can do so with assertiveness. 

Practice will help.  With your help, your daughter or student can rehearse what she is going to say or do to stop the hurt.  And when she does this, whether her voice is quiet and shaky or bold, her confidence will grow.  Each time she practices, she will improve.   Assertiveness doesn’t come easily to everyone.  It is something that can be grown and cultivated.  Believe us.  This can and will happen!

Friendship Skill #4: Bullying Refusal

Many young girls don’t have enough experience to realize they don’t have to accept bullying.  When it happens, they don’t know what to do. Either they don’t know how to respond, or they don’t know they can respond.  When a girl is blind-sided by her first bullying experience, she may believe she has to do what the bully says or accept what was said or done.

It’s difficult to prepare kids for everything they could possibly encounter in life.  It’s tricky with bullying, because when introducing bullying prevention, there is a delicate balance.  While we don’t want to plant seeds of fear, we do want our girls to have a “heads up.”  There’s a natural route to take.  When sharing literature, movies, or family TV time, talk about any bullying situations that come up.

Discuss who the bully is and who is the target of the bullying.  Let your child know that the target can refuse bullying. There is something that can be done when bullying happens.  A target can refuse, or say no to bullying, in several ways.  Keep examples simple: tell the bully to stop or walk away or get help.  The clear message your child should get is that she can refuse bullying.  It is not something she has to endure.

Friendship Skill #5: Conflict Resolution

Conflicts are problems between and among people.  They are part of human nature, because we all are unique and have our own perspective on things.  Conflict is natural, and it is neither good nor bad.  Let’s teach our young girls this very point. 

Let them know that when there is a problem between people, the problem can usually be worked out.  Listening to another to really understand helps problems between friends.  Talking about differences also helps.  Walking away from conflict when it becomes too much to handle offers a cooling off period.  Don’t forget about taking a time out, too.  Frame the time out as a good thing to do for yourself when you need space.  It’s not about giving oneself consequences for having a problem with someone.  It’s about making space for thinking about what to do.

Girls who learn how to solve conflicts usually have fewer problems with bullying.  Teach the difference between having a problem with a friend and being bullied.  Girls with equal power can have a conflict but often call each other bullies.  Two friends who usually squabble about many things are not necessarily bullying each other.  They are having a conflict when they disagree.  Things change, though, when one asks the other to stop an unwanted behavior, and the behavior continues.  When the behaviors are one-sided, unwanted, and usually occurring more than once, there is a power imbalance.  That is bullying.

© 2010 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 www.AWayThrough.com

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.