If manipulation, as a noun defined, is artful or skillful management, and as a verb, means to negotiate, control, or influence (something or someone) cleverly, skillfully, or deviously, then manipulation, as a relationship tool, is just plain scary.  It’s a sideways method for getting what you want instead of using direct, honest communication.

In one sense, manipulation can be innocuous.  Parents use manipulative techniques to persuade their children to eat healthily.  And who among us hasn’t helped manage some sort of situation to pull off a surprise for someone’s birthday?  Intentions, in these cases, are meant to help or create a pleasant situation for someone else.  Both examples illustrate the sunnier side of manipulation.  But there is a dark side, a very dark side.

The Shadow Side of Manipulation

When kids meet and form new friendships, there is joy and abandon.  This is particularly true for our youngest.  Small children form bonds easily with little thought of gain or how a friendship could improve their social status.  They just want to play.  It doesn’t take long, though, for cliques to form and manipulation to begin.

Kids discover ways to keep others from joining in play.  Changing the truth just a little can keep an unpleasant situation at bay.  Forgetting on purpose can explain away an indiscretion.  And gathering a group together to “explain” one version of a story first before someone else’s opposing view can be told gives a certain stronghold over the most believable version of the truth.

It’s natural for kids to experiment with manipulation, but it’s a sad place to stay.   With girls and boys equally using it, anyone who continually succeeds through manipulation increases their chances of becoming a manipulative adult.  Spending enough time with a relationship manipulator eventually exposes their MO.  Unfortunately for the manipulator, relationships are shallow and ever changing.  It becomes a heartache for manipulators and their targets alike.

Victim, Victim – Who Gets to Be the Victim?

A masterful manipulator knows how to appear as the wronged party.  The best defense is a good offense; that is the manipulator’s mantra.  She knows how to set things up.  Victim is the desired role, because if you are the victim, you cannot be in the wrong.   Let me illustrate through roles and age groups:
Preschool:  Sarah retrieves a toy Mia has just snatched out of her hands. (Mia, crying to an adult)  “Sarah took my toy!”  Sarah is reprimanded to share.
Siblings:  Younger Child wants to play with Older Child’s science experiment.  Older Child, not wanting to have the school assignment destroyed, denies the request.   Younger Child cries to Parent that Older Child is mean.  Older Child is reprimanded because, of course, she/he is older and should know better.  (Younger Child smiles at Older Child)
Grade School:  A group of girls calls Mary names.  Mary, in tears, says she will report the group to the teacher after recess.   After recess, the group reaches the teacher first and reports that Mary has been calling them names.
Junior High and High School:  Maria and Eve were friends who told each other everything.  Their relationship included privately venting about others and sharing their opinions.  A fight ends the relationship, so Eve seeks “justice” by proclaiming herself Victim while sharing Maria’s private, negative views of others.  As a result, Maria is ostracized, and Victim Eve is embraced.
Romantic Relationships:  Maggie doesn’t like Josh’s friends, so each time he goes out with them, she sulks for days.  When Josh asks what’s wrong, Maggie responds, “Nothing.”
Work:  Analise’s boss asked her to do extra assignments without any compensation.  When Analise spoke up to say she would need extra compensation to pay for her babysitter’s additional time, the boss became incensed.  In conversations now, the boss calls Analise his Prima Dona employee.  When others ask about the obvious change in their relationship, he just shrugs his shoulders as if to suggest she is a difficult employee.  His actions cause others to stay away from Analise.
Character Qualities That Eschew Victimhood and Embrace Self-Efficacy

To raise a 21st Century Citizen who is able to become happy, self-reliant and successful in relationships and life itself, guide your child to live these five character qualities.  They are the antidotes to manipulation:

1. Respect
2. Responsibility
3. Resiliency
4. Honesty
5. Courage

When you respect yourself and others, it allows you to be honest in your communications and to take responsibility for your words and actions.  Resiliency gets you through the difficult times, and courage helps keep you in alignment with the other character values.

What gifts you will give your child – your guidance toward characteristics that lead to fulfilling relationships without manipulation and victimhood!


© 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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If you’re interested in proactive measures to address relational aggression among your boys and girls, don’t miss the GAPRA Membership Sneak Preview Call tomorrow, June 15 at 3:30 p.m. central!

Sign up now, and join us live. Plus, you’ll receive the recordings and transcripts so you can listen whenever you want!

Find out about GAPRA membership — an affordable way to get everyone in your school or organization on the same page about emotional bullying. Go to www.gapraconnect.com now to register for the Sneak Preview and Q&A calls.

We’re excited and think you will be, too, when you learn more about GAPRA!


How GAPRA Membership
Affordably Equips Your Staff, Volunteers and Parents
to Prevent Emotional Bullying Among Your Youth

June 15 (informational call) and June 22 (Q&A call)
3:30 p.m. Central Time

[Click for the call time in your time zone.]



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What It Is

Relational aggression (RA) is a term we use to describe hurting others through the manipulation of relationships. It’s a form of bullying that’s also known as emotional bullying, relationship bullying or (because girls are so good at it) female bullying. However, both boys and girls use RA.

What It Looks Like

Relational aggression takes place when the Bully finds a Target and uses gossip, lying, name calling, silent treatment and cyber bullying (or any number of what we call Friendship Weapons™) to hurt their feelings. Sometimes, Bystanders sees the hurtful behavior happening, and the Bully uses them to manipulate the situation further.

When It Starts

Emotional bullying can start as young as 2 1/2 years old. Left unchecked, it can:

  • Continue for weeks or months (especially for girls)
  • Peak in middle school (thanks to hormones)
  • Escalate into physical violence (especially for boys)
  • Cause immeasurable emotional pain

Why Girls Use It

The schools, parents and youth organizations we talk to often ask why girls are so good at relational aggression. Part of the answer is that girls are wired as natural connectors. Girls will go a long way for connections with their peers, even if those connections are negative.

Also, their brain center for emotional memory is larger than boys. By nature, they are more sensitive to relational cues and find it hard to let go of emotionally charged events!

As role models for girls, it’s so important to educate ourselves about emotional bullying and how our children experience it. By understanding how relational aggression serves the Bully and affects the Target and Bystanders, we can be better equipped to guide our kids through painful friendships and emotional bullying situations.

© 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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Faculty to Help Provide Affordable Bully Prevention Training The Global Alliance for Preventing Relational Aggression

The Global Alliance for Preventing Relational Aggression (GAPRA) is excited to announce three new faculty members who will help provide bully prevention training to schools and youth organizations. Christopher Burgess, Brenda Nixon and Sue Scheff will share their expertise in parenting and cyberbullying for GAPRA training activities alongside the organization’s co-founders, Blair Wagner and Jane Balvanz.

The mission of GAPRA is to deliver “Hope and Help for Bullies, Targets and Bystanders of Emotional Bullying.” Relational aggression, a.k.a. emotional bullying, is often the precursor to violence among children and has been linked to suicides. Annual membership in GAPRA offers schools and youth organizations affordable training for all staff members, volunteers, group leaders and parents.

In order to introduce membership to schools and youth organizations, GAPRA is inviting everyone to two free informational telephone calls on Wednesday, June 15, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. central time and June 22 at 3:30 p.m. central. Educators, parents and volunteers can register for the Sneak Preview and Q&A calls and submit their questions about GAPRA at: www.gapraconnect.com. The calls will be recorded, and the audio recordings are free to anyone who registers.


The Global Alliance for Preventing Relational Aggression equips schools and youth organizations with training, tools and support to reduce emotional bullying. The GAPRA co-founders also developed When Girls Hurt Girls®, an award-winning series of CDs, educational guides and other products, to empower girls in grades K-8 to solve their own friendship problems. For details, visit www.gapraconnect.com.

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Summer is a time for kid heaven. It’s a time for freedom, friendships, fun, and eventually, “Mom, I have nothing to do.” (For precise expressiveness, the word “mom” must be said in a nasal tone and as if comprised of two syllables.)

Not to worry! Hand this list over to your child and say, “I know just what you can do. *Complete this list by the time summer is over, and you will have practiced most of the skills necessary to build good friendships.”

Apologize – Say you’re sorry when you mess up.

Balance – Balance your time wisely between friends and responsibilities.

Cool – Cool down your temper by deep breathing or walking away.

Dream – Dream about how you want your friendships to be.

Encourage – Encourage someone when they are feeling down or afraid.

Feel – Feel your emotions instead of stuffing them inside.

Give – Give of yourself. Help someone who could use help.

Humble – Be humble when you are complimented on an accomplishment.

Integrate – When someone wants to join you, integrate them into your group.

Judge – Judge friendships on your own experience, not by someone’s opinion.

Kick – Kick a habit that interferes with your friendships.

Laugh – Find someone who makes you laugh. Laughter = friendship magic!

Manage – Manage your commitments and do what you have promised.

Negotiate – Negotiate a compromise in a friendship disagreement.

Oppose – Oppose actions that purposely hurt another.

Praise – Praise someone’s accomplishments.

Quit – Quit a friendship that doesn’t feel good.

Relate – Find a way to relate to someone who is different than you.

Start – Start a new friendship.

Team – Team up with others to have fun.

Understand – Try to understand an opinion different than yours.

Value – Value others who make you feel good about yourself.

Wonder – Wonder about what makes a good friend.

X – X out the negative attitude. No one loves a grump.

Yield – Yield to your friends now and then to share decision-making.

Zip – Zip your lips when you feel like repeating words that hurt.

* Your child has the opportunity to be featured on the A Way Through, LLC website. Just write to us and let us know how your child used the A – Z Summer Friendship List.

© 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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Hello, all! Blair and Jane here, wanting to let you know that we’re excited and grateful to be in the news once again.  For starters, we will be featured on our local ABC affiliate, KCRG TV9, starting this evening. Check for details at www.kcrg.com.

We’ve also started spreading the word about GAPRA, the Global Alliance for Preventing Relational Aggression. See our news release about GAPRA on the Media page, and keep your eyes peeled for more announcements. We’ll be letting you know about our progress with GAPRA up through the initial GAPRA Sneak Preview call on June 15.  And remember to register for that free call/audio download today at www.gapraconnect.com!

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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!!

Hi, everyone, Blair here with some exciting news. We have expanded our team to include an administrative assistant as well as another expert presenter. Welcome, Eva and Janelle, to the A Way Through team! Eva is providing essential administrative support as we grow, and Janelle brings her expertise as an assistant principal to our When Girls Hurt Girls® presentations. To find out more about Eva and Janelle, click here.

We are also excited to have been interviewed by KCRG TV 9 in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a special story on bullying. The segment we appear in will air May 19 on the 10:00 p.m. news. The complete special story, which includes several segments about bullying, is scheduled to air May 21 at 6:30 p.m. on KCRG 9.2 on Mediacom in Cedar Rapids, Iowa area. Check http://www.kcrg.com/local9point2/tv-schedule for a schedule and details on how to watch the live streaming story on May 21st!

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In Part 1, I shared two common responses girls give when asked, “When it comes to my friendships, I wish my parents would…”  They replied… 1.  Don’t call it drama.  2. Listen.

Here’s what else girls said…

3. Leave Me Alone

After your daughter feels listened to, you can ask if she wants your help.  Say, “Would you like help in solving your problem?”  Honor what she says.  No means no.  If she doesn’t want help, say, “I understand this is your problem and you want to solve it yourself.  I want you to know that I am here to help you if you want help.”  Then, back off.

It’s important to let her know you believe she can solve the problem.  Girls want their parents’ faith that they will do what is right for them.  Be available, but not clingy.

One exception to this rule is if your daughter has been on the receiving end of emotional (or physical) bullying for an extended period of time.  Or, if you are concerned for your daughter’s safety.  If you think she is at risk of hurting herself, it is time to get the support of professionals.

4. Help Me

Many girls wish their parents would be more effective at helping them through their friendship problems. They want help thinking about what to do and would like their parents to step in and work them through it.  They want good advice and guidance.

Girls who are happy with their parents’ support have parents who:

–  Offer effective, positive strategies that are relevant to their daughter’s problem.

–  Let their daughter choose her strategy.

–  Don’t get caught in the pain.  They remain grounded and positive and keep a healthy level of detachment from the problem.

–  Practice or role play the situation with their daughter.

–  Follow up in a casual, calm manner.

–  Bring in other help as needed.

© 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

Categories : Parents
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Image management – what is it? Is it keeping your image polished, restoring one that’s damaged, or creating one that’s new and shiny?  Perhaps it’s more technological and refers to managing digital images.  If it were any of these, I’d advise you to seek an Image Management Coach, PR agency, or computer geek. No need for any of those, though.  All you need is yourself and the ability to honestly self-reflect. Image management is maintaining perceptions of self through the use of coping strategies.  Let me illustrate through examples.

Two Examples

Mia, a middle school girl, sees herself as artistic, interesting, and witty. She, as do we all, looks for validation of her self-dubbed labels.  When someone compliments her artwork, listens to what she has to say, or laughs at her witty retorts, her perceptions are reinforced. To manage her image, Mia works diligently to produce her artwork and looks for opportunities to connect and display her wit.

Sally is a corporate executive.  She sees herself as competent, in control, and well-liked by her employees. Her self-image is validated when her employees smile at her, complete their projects, and work runs smoothly.  To manage her image, Sally works relentlessly to be pleasant to her employees and to control each step of every project to ensure quality results. She looks for opportunities to prove her competence.

Both Mia and Sally use image management to reinforce their self impressions.  As long as they interpret others to be experiencing them as they wish to be experienced, they feel balanced.  But watch them go off kilter when others have a different impression.

The Mirror Metaphor

When we polish our hypothetical image mirror, we expect it to be shiny.  And then someone smears it up after all the work we’ve put into managing our image!  Others may interpret our reflection differently than we.  In Mia’s case, some classmates see her wit as an excessive attempt to gain attention.  Some of Sally’s employees see her as controlling rather than in control.

A secure individual can bounce back quickly when her self-image is challenged by others’ words or reactions.  No matter how secure we are, though, when challenged frequently, it’s time to go inward and take inventory.  We need to honestly assess whether we are acting and living authentically or if were managing our image to portray someone we’re not.

Fear and Relational Aggression

When others’ reactions implicate they don’t share our self-image, the incongruence can produce feelings of irritation, anger, confusion, or self-doubt.  The underlying feeling, though, is fear.

We fear we may not fit the image we want.  A person who will not honestly self-reflect and adjust can resort to relational aggression to discount the people who don’t agree with her or share her self-assessments.

Mia might label the kids who don’t enjoy her wit as humorless or too dense to “get it.”  She may go as far as starting rumors about kids who don’t seem to like her in order to discredit them.

Sally might have an employee who asks for freedom to complete a project with less direct input. The employee may go as far as speaking up to Sally and saying she finds Sally to be too controlling.  Sally could discount this request by labeling the employee as insubordinate, cheeky, or incompetent.  To prove her point (and save her image), Sally could resort to becoming a bully boss.  By finding negative “evidence” about the employee instead of self-reflecting, Sally will probably find reason to let her go.  Score?  Image management 1, self-growth 0.

We need to help our girls learn to self-reflect and be honest about who they are instead of resorting to emotional bullying for image management.  Everyone has a shadow part.  As women, we should do the same.  And we should know that by now.

© 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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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

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