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August 2009 Archives

Advice for Making Friends: Part Three
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When we polled IML'ers about where they most often meet new friends, the majority of you said...SCHOOL. Well, duh! When you're sitting next to someone in homeroom or paired with her in science lab, friendship can come naturally and easily. But sometimes friendships come together outside the classroom or cafeteria, so here's a reminder of places where that "click" might happen:

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Clubs or afterschool activities: The great thing about meeting new friends in clubs is that, chances are, the people you come across are going to have at least one thing in common with you right off the bat. If you love to act, drama club is the perfect place to find other drama queens (and kings) who share your love of all things diva. Or if a good argument is your thing, think of all the heated discussions you can have with other members of the debate team. It can be so easy to be yourself in these environments.

Sports teams: Being involved in athletics is a great way to meet friends, especially if the sport you're participating in is a team sport. You'll be pushed to work together, communicate, cheer, and support each other on a deeper level. For more info and advice on this, check out our section on Team Sports.

Volunteering: Do you walk shelter dogs in your spare time? Help clean up parks? Paint murals on the walls of local schools? There are tons of volunteer opportunities for tweens today, and they're great places to make new friends. You know that the people you meet while volunteering will not only share your passion for whatever the activity is, but also for helping others. 

Religious youth groups: If your synagogue, temple, or church has a youth group, you might find that great friendships start here. Youth groups often host cool activities like hay rides, bowling nights, movie outings and other get-togethers, so there'll be plenty of opportunities for socializing. 

With a little luck and self-confidence, your next great friend or group of friends is out there. We never know when close buds will come into our lives, but when these friendships do form naturally, they're usually the real thing. And they're always worth the effort!



Advice for Making Friends: Part Two
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For those of you who want to focus on making some new friends this fall, here's our list of what NOT to do:

DON'T be a gossip: Spreading gossip and rumors about someone else might seem like a great way to get the attention of new friends, but don't be fooled. Even if they're interested in the dirt you have to dish, they'll probably see you as someone who's not trustworthy. If you're so willing to talk about other people behind their back, what's to stop them from doing the same to you?

DON'T play games: We're not talking about Rock Band and Cranium here...but rather, the games we sometimes play with people's minds to get them to feel or do what we want. If this is usually your strategy, think twice before rolling the dice. The way you act in the beginning of a relationship will lay the foundation for the friendship to come. Stick to honesty and straightforwardness and you and your new pal will be off on the right foot.

DON'T force yourself on anybody: You know those people who insist on hanging around you, maybe even onto you, when you really just need some space? Sometimes when people are desperate to make a friendship work, they'll force themselves into situations where they're not really welcomed. Leave the clinginess to Velcro. Your friends should be just as happy to spend time with you as you are to hang with them.

DON'T forget personal hygiene: These are the years when our bodies start to do some unexpected things that we may not even be aware of. Maybe you're sweating more than you used to, or your hair is getting greasy more quickly. That's normal...but you may want to talk to a parent about bathing habits and products like deodorant. In a perfect world, it shouldn't matter what you look or smell like; but in our world, the real world, these things can keep you from making the new friendships you seek. 

And finally...

DON'T let shyness keep you down: Are you a shy person? If you are, being faced with a challenge like making a new friend can seem scarier than climbing Mount Everest. But believe it or not, one of the best ways to overcome shyness in social situations is to put yourself right in the middle of them. Set small goals for yourself, like saying "hi" or smiling to a different person each day. Paralyzed at the thought of picking up the phone to call someone? Script out what you're going to say first. Lastly, try pretending for a day that you're not shy. What would that be like? You might find that people respond to you in very positive ways, and at the same time, you'll build the self-confidence you need.

In our next post, we'll talk about places where you can meet new friends!



Advice for Making Friends: Part One
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Yup, fall is coming. All those "back to school" ads won't let us forget it. They want us to start fresh with new clothes, new supplies, new everything...and there's something appealing about that. This time of year can feel really hopeful, and many of you talk about what you'd like to accomplish come September.

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One of the things that gets mentioned a lot is the goal of making new friends. Maybe you're going to a new school, or feel like you've outgrown your current friends, or maybe you just want to expand your social horizons from last year. Of course, all that's easier said than done; making new friends takes effort for most of us, and a decent amount of self-confidence too. So we'll devote our next few posts to some advice on this subject. To start, here are some general tips for launching new friendships:

Always be yourself: People will do and say some crazy things in order to fit in with a new friend or clique. Unfortunately, this doesn't often result in true friendship. Will you ever really be comfortable with around these people, if you're pretending to be someone you're not? And how long can you keep up the charade, anyway? In a real friendship, there's no acting, no pretending, no hiding.


Talk to people & be friendly: This can be especially hard if you're shy. But being friendly doesn't mean you have to walk around school wearing a t-shirt that says, "Hey, don't you want to talk to ME?" It can be as simple as smiling at people when you pass them in the hallway, or saying "hello" to the person next to you in homeroom, or complimenting someone on her new haircut. If you're open and seem easy to approach, you'll become the kind of person that others want to be around. 


Learn how to listen: Did you ever notice that most people love to talk about themselves - their favorite sports, their hobbies, their dog...whatever? If you're a good listener, you'll be surprised at how many people are drawn to you. By asking questions and listening carefully to the answers, your new friends will feel the genuine interest you have in them. And they'll want to give it right back to you.


Let others know you like them: How many times have you been involved in a misunderstanding because a friend got something completely wrong? The same thing can happen with potential friendships. Sometimes people assume we don't like them, so even if they really do want to be our friend, they figure we're not interested. If you've found someone you want to be friends with, let him or her know. No megaphones necessary. It's the little things that count: saving a seat for your friend on the bus, bringing in an extra cupcake for lunch, or remembering to wish her or him good luck before a big exam.


Put your new friendships on "project status": If making new friends is something you really want, then you have to make it a priority. Just like improving at a sport or getting better grades, making new friends takes time and energy...but this is one effort that's sure to pay off.


Be patient: Friendships that are formed in a day sometimes last just as long (or short!). Developing solid friendships can take time, but that's okay. The more time you both spend getting to know each other and building a solid foundation, the less likely your friendship will crumble at the first sign of trouble. 


Stay tuned for advice on what NOT to do when making new friends...!



Movie Review: "Shorts"
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How many times a day do you make wishes? Once or twice? Half a dozen or more? Maybe you're not constantly saying, "I wish I had a million dollars!"...but you might wish to yourself that your crush would notice you, or that your parents would stop arguing, or that you hadn't just eaten that Pigout Deluxe Burrito at the mall. Most of us wish constantly, quietly, for one thing or another. And we don't really expect or try to make them come true.

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The new movie "Shorts," written and directed by Robert Rodriguez ("The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl" and the "Spy Kids" movies), takes a look at what might happen if anyone's wishes could be granted -- literally and instantly. When a mysterious "wishing rock" appears in narrator Toby Thompson's neighborhood, chaos ensues. The chaos is funny, wacky, and gross, yet also hits close to home; it's the kind that even your mom or dad will chuckle at. 

In addition to the comedy, cool visuals, and great cast, we like how the story touches on some bigger issues such as family relationships, bullying, and the role of technology in our lives. Most of the characters make their first wishing rock request by expressing their deepest desire. Lonely Toby wishes for friends as unique as he is; meanie Helvetica (whose name we love so much, we almost wrote this in the Helvetica font) wishes her dad would listen to her; Nose wishes his frustrated father's inventions would work; and Toby's mom wishes she and her husband were closer (instead of texting each other while they're in the same room!). It's through these wishes that the heart of "Shorts" comes through. If we could, we'd grab the wishing rock and wish this heart came through a little stronger and didn't feel quite so tacked-on. 

But it sure is fun to come out of this movie and talk to a friend, a parent, or whoever about what you would do with the wishing rock. Would you go for the instant gratification? Would you wish for something for yourself, or for others? How would you phrase a wish so it wouldn't backfire? Tell us!

IML's Rating: B+



DVD Review: "Hannah Montana: The Movie"
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This week, "Hannah Montana: The Movie" comes out on DVD and Blu-Ray. However you feel about Miley at the moment, the flick stands alone as a funny, sweet, entertaining story that we can all relate to in some way...even if we don't have a secret pop star identity. On those days when you're not sure who you're becoming or what matters most to you, it might help to tag along with Miley on her trip back home to Tennessee to reconnect with her roots (and herself). And we just love the movie's soundtrack, especially the awesome single "The Climb", the video of which, along with deleted scenes and giggly bloopers, is among the DVD's bonus features.

Here's some more from Miley on chilling out and staying in touch with what she loves best.

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What would you get up to on the perfect day?

At the moment, the perfect day would involve a sleep-in! I'm a night owl who loves to stay up late - but then I find myself with a 6am start time and I'll end up having only two hours sleep. That's why my perfect day would involve sleeping in and then hanging out by the pool with my mum.

What's the best way to chill out?

I love being at home - especially when I'm out by the pool. We have a waterfall in our backyard and it's beautiful. It's lovely to sit out there alone. In fact, I like anywhere I can just be alone. I love being alone!

What else do you like to do in your spare time?

I like to ride my bike and I love reading. I also like to watch movies and stay up late. Staying up late is great because I find it really relaxing. It's the only time when everyone else is asleep, so I can have some alone time.

Did you enjoy traveling to Nashville to shoot the "Hannah Montana" movie?

That was awesome! I loved going home to Nashville because it's a wonderful place and it's where I grew up. I really enjoyed the tranquility of everything there. I loved the peace and the quiet. It was amazing.

So how would you spend your ideal day in Nashville?

Ooh, I like this question! I'd just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. You know what? I really wish I had more time to spend in Nashville. Filming the movie was the longest I had been back since I left, but I am hoping to move back there at some point.

Let's get back to your favorite obsessions...What was the last book you read?

I've just finished reading a book called Catcher In The Rye. It's a really great book. If you haven't heard of it, check it out. It's by JD Salinger and it's a bit of a classic.

What makes it such a good book?

It's a really good story. Plus, when I was reading the book, I thought that I was a little similar to the main character. He over-thinks everything and I'm like that.

What do you over-think?

In the book, this guy is obsessed with a girl called Jane - and I can be exactly like that when it comes to boys. I'll be thinking, 'I really hope they like me.' And I'll stress and stress and stress about it. 

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Hopefully I'll still be working in ten years. I love doing films, so I hope I'm doing them for years to come - but I also hope that I've become a bit more settled.

What do you mean by that?

Well, my life is so crazy at the moment, so it would be great to have a more normal life in ten years. I'd love to be doing movies on and off - but I hope I get the chance to spend a lot of time with my family, too. That would be very cool indeed.

 


"School of Rock" Concerts
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girlwithguitar.jpgIML'ers rock! Like, literally.

If you take a look at our I Play An Instrument and How I Express Myself You Said It pages, you'll see what we mean. For so many of you, making music is a big part of life. It's a great way to not just express yourself and have fun, but also meet new friends, learn how to work as a team, gain discipline and a sense of accomplishment, and even plan for the future (because you ARE going to be a huge famous rock star someday).

Whether you play something or not, it can be really inspiring to see other tweens do their thing. Here's one opportunity: during the weekend of August 15, 2009, students ages 7-17 from various Paul Green School of Rock Music locations across the U.S. will be participating in a series of free concerts to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Woodstock -- an event that rocked an entire generation (and influenced many of the artists we love most today). Hopefully there's a concert happening near you; check this list of places and dates. And if there's not...maybe you and your budding musician 'mates can put on one of your own!

To those of you who play an instrument, we want to know: What's your advice for other kids who would like to play music, but don't know where to start? What if they have limited money or time for lessons? Send your words of wisdom.



The Dreaded "D" and The Wicked "S"


We just read some new facts and figures that made us think about a subject that unfortunately will never go away.

divorce1.jpgDid you know that every year in the U.S., the parents of one million children get divorced? Wow! That's like, the population of a small city! Think about your friends, neighbors, and schoolmates. How many have divorced parents? Probably at least a few, or even half, right? It feels like divorce is pretty common and normal, and it is...but that doesn't make it any less sad or difficult for tweens who go through it. That's why Divorce was one of the first topics we covered, and why the divorce You Said It page is always filled with comments and advice from other IML'ers. Stop by and share your story!

Divorce is hard enough, but then (sometimes) comes remarriage. Here's another "whoa!" factoid: in the U.S., 1,300 new stepfamilies are formed each day. Adjusting to a new stepparent and possibly new step-siblings can be really scary, but there's good news. Experts say that while a new stepfamily can be rough going at first, if everyone works together, eventually kids who live in a stepfamily are happier than those whose parents never remarry after getting divorced. IML talked to some tweens who feel that way; check out Stefanie's Story and Cortney & Joshua's Story. These stories remind us that where there is love, communication, and teamwork, there is always hope!