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Help From You!

THIS WEEK'S QUESTION

Dear American Girl,

I don’t know what to get my best friend for Christmas. She always gets me an amazing present because she’s so creative and thoughtful. I really want to get her something that will make her smile. What should I get her?

-Perfect Present

Here's your advice:

What do you and your friend like to do together? Do you like to craft, bake, or play sports together? Get her a present that relates to something you and your friend love.

- Madi, age 11, Ohio

Don’t panic! She will probably love whatever you get her because you were thinking of her.

- Kaitlyn, age 13, Minnesota

Pick out a cute mug and fill it with fun hot cocoa gifts. I got this as a present last year and I loved it so much.

- An American Girl fan

I think you should give her something homemade. Put some heart into it!

- Rachel, age 9, Maryland

Does your friend have a favorite movie or book? If she doesn’t already have it, buy her favorite book or movie as a present.

- Kaylee, age 9, Arkansas

Give her a homemade gift. I painted a picture for my friend’s birthday and she loved it.

- Lisa, age 11, Maine

You could get her a new journal or planner to write ideas in.

- Jordan, age 13, New Mexico

If she’s your best friend then she will probably love anything you get her. What does she love? Art? Soccer? Buy her something that has to do with her passions.

- Bethany, age 11, Alabama

Coming up with present ideas can be really difficult. Create a scrapbook of all of your favorite memories together. Give this to her as a present.

- Addy, age 11, Arkansas

My advice is to give her something that comes from the heart. If it means a lot, I’m sure she will love it.

- An American Girl fan

Surprise her with a gift card to her favorite store. Maybe the two of you could go shopping there together.

- Lucy, age 10, Nebraska

Make her a beautiful card or a fun craft. I bet she will love either because you spent time making it for her.

- Sophie, age 8, Kansas

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NEXT WEEK'S QUESTION

Dear American Girl,

I’ve been feeling really overwhelmed at school. I’m having a hard time keeping up with my assignments and studying for quizzes. Sometimes it feels like there’s just not enough time to learn everything or finish all of my homework. What should I do?

-School Struggles

Type your response in the box below. Don't forget to include your first name, age, and state. Do not include your e-mail address. Click the SEND button ONCE to send it to us. We'll print some of your responses next week.

IMPORTANT: Do not send new product ideas via e-mail.

SEND A QUESTION

Got an issue? Want to know what other girls think? Then mail in your Help! question to the address below. The editors at American Girl will review submitted questions and post one on this Web site every week.

A question like yours may have been posted before. Check Past Help to find out.

Send your question to:
Play @ American Girl Help!
American Girl magazine
8400 Fairway Place
Middleton, WI 53562

Important: Please allow plenty of time for your letter to be read and posted. Because of all the Help! questions we receive, not all questions will be used. Please do not send in the same question more than once.

PAST HELP

Some of your past questions and advice were so good that we decided to post them again. Maybe the question you'd like answered is here. Click a category to explore. For even more advice, check out the advice books in the American Girl Library.

SCHOOL SMARTS
How can I prevent freezing up when I take a test?
I'm having trouble in my math class. I understand the problems, do the homework, and study hard for the tests. But when it comes time for the tests, I freeze up. I try so hard to figure out the questions that I just get the answers wrong. My grades aren't good in that class. What can I do to improve?

When I feel tense, everything I studied tends to fall out of my head. I suggest that when you start a test, do your best to relax. Take a breath, and then go for it. If you don't know an answer, come back to the question later. You might feel less stressed-out. Just be sure to answer the questions you left blank before you turn in the test.
- Lydia, age 12, Canada

I used to struggle with math tests, so my parents helped me get a tutor. She helped me a lot and gave me the confidence I needed to face those tests.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Connecticut

I like to have a little something that I always do before I take a test. For you, it could be taking three deep breaths or putting a bracelet on the opposite wrist. Your little routine could make you think, I've done this many times before, and your stress might disappear.
- Rachel, age 13, New York

Try positive visualization. If I feel stressed as I'm taking a test, I imagine myself getting a good grade. If you put too much pressure on yourself, test taking will continue to be challenging.
- Abbi, age 10, California

Before you start a test, think about something that makes you laugh. Imagining something silly always relaxes me and makes me feel better.
- Rosalie, age 13, Pennsylvania

Clear your mind before a test. Are you mad at your sister about something? Or are you worried about something you said to a friend? Tell yourself that you'll deal with it later, and just focus on your test.
- Isabel, age 9, Oregon

Tell your teacher that you are struggling with taking tests, and he or she could give you some help. Don't be afraid to speak up. Teachers are there to help.
- Cam, age 11, Texas

Instead of freezing up in the middle of a test, take a breather by laying your head on your desk for about a minute. This always helps me. Try it and see if it works for you.
- Destiny, age 10, Virginia

Instead of putting tons of pressure on yourself for taking a test, try to imagine that you're just sitting and working on normal classwork.
- Ryanne, age 11, Colorado

Ask your teacher if she has any practice tests you could take ahead of time. Practicing before the test might calm your jitters and help you feel more confident.
- Maria, age 12, Texas

When you start to tense up, give yourself a pep talk. In your mind, say to yourself, I know I can do this. I worked hard! Even if I get this question wrong, it's not the end of the world. It might make you feel better.
- Lilly, age 10, New York

The night before a test, try to go to sleep early and have a healthy breakfast in the morning. That way, you'll feel fueled when you take your test.
- Claire, age 12, Virginia

Continue to study hard, and don't overthink things. Before you start a test, calm down and imagine that you're just doing your homework at home, sitting at your desk in your room. You might see an improvement when taking math tests.
- Madison, age 13, New York

Your brain might understand math, but when you have a test in front of you, you suddenly think, Oh no! A test! Tests are supposed to be stressful! When you get the jitters, it's harder to think straight. During your next test, remind yourself that you know the subject. And if you don't get a perfect grade, that doesn't mean you aren't smart. A lot of kids struggle with tests even when they know the concepts, so you're not alone. Try your best and r-e-l-a-x!
- Elle, age 12, Canada

How can I transition from home school to public school?
All of my life I have been home-schooled, but recently, my parents decided to send me to a public school. I start after the holidays, and I'm so nervous. Not only am I starting halfway through the year, but I don't know anyone in the whole school. How can I feel better about starting a new chapter in my life?

On your first day of school, instead of waiting for other kids to say hi to you, walk up to someone who seems nice and say hi to him or her. That person might be able to help you throughout the day.
- Aviya, age 10, New York

The best piece of advice I can share with you is this: be yourself! Don't try to be someone you're not.
- Shayla, age 12, California

Every person has been afraid of what others think of him or her at one time or another. Doesn't it make you feel better to know that you're not alone? Even the kids that you might think of as "popular" have worried about wearing certain outfits or saying the wrong thing. Try not to be afraid of what people think of you. Chances are, people at your new school will think you're awesome.
- Emily, age 13, Delaware

If you enter the school with the mindset of enjoying it and soaking up the good times, you will have a better experience. Focus on meeting new people and learning new things.
- Julie, age 12, Ohio

During your first day at your new school, be sure to smile and be friendly. Don't overthink things, or else you might not enjoy your day.
- Abby, age 11, Washington

Try this: On one piece of paper, write down the positive things about going to public school. On another piece of paper, write down the cons. Then tear up the cons list and throw it away. Keep the list of positive things in your backpack, and look at it whenever you need a boost.
- Madison, age 12, Indiana

Going to public school is more like home-schooling than you think. You're in a classroom instead of your living room, and there will be some different rules to follow. Meet your teachers and be friendly to your new classmates. Sometimes in life, new things can be good.
- Melanie, age 8, California

I'm home-schooled, and I was nervous when I joined a girls' rugby team. I was worried that they wouldn't like me, but it turned out that I worried for nothing. A girl on the team has become one of my best friends. Join a club or a sport at your new school, and you might become friends with someone who shares your interests.
- Claire, age 12, Virginia

When I switched schools in the middle of the year, I was thrown for a loop. So I asked my new teachers if they could share helpful information and tips for making new friends. One teacher suggested I try out for the school musical, and that's how I ended up making a lot of friends.
- Lucy, age 11, Texas

I was home-schooled, and my parents decided to send me to a public school. I was really scared, but when I walked into the school, I quickly found out that the kids were a lot nicer than I'd imagined. Sure, there are those not-so-nice kids, but I just avoid them and spend time with people who make me feel good.
- Hannah, age 12, Indiana

Going to a new school might be hard at first, but once you make some friends, school will be a lot more fun. In the beginning, when things are tough, remind yourself that eventually everything will turn out OK. It might take some time, so be patient.
- Janet, age 13, California

If you want to feel more confident, learn everything you can about your new school. Your parents might be able to help you find answers to your questions. Shop for school supplies, and take a tour of the school. Ask a parent if you can get a couple of new outfits, too. Think of starting public school as a good opportunity to become braver in your life.
- Macy, age 12, Maryland

I've moved a lot and have had to go to new schools, so I can imagine how you feel. One thing that makes me feel better is imagining that I'm on a new adventure and I'm going to enjoy it. Even though I don't know what lies ahead at the new school, I do my best to keep a positive attitude about it. Instead of thinking negative thoughts, focus on the things that you're excited about.
- Christine, age 11, New Jersey

How can I stand up to a group of mean girls at school?
There's a group of mean girls at my school, and for the last few years, they have picked on me. I was hoping that they would have grown up a little over the summer, but the bullying is even worse this year. I'm ready to stand up for myself. What should I do?

Whatever you do, don't run away from the bullying. If you do this, these girls might see it as a sign of victory and will tease you even more. When these girls pick on you, you could say, "How would you feel if someone bullied you?" It's a great response that might make them think, too.
- Allison, age 11, Missouri

Look these girls straight in the eye and with confidence say, "I'm getting really tired of the teasing, so can you please stop?" Don't let these girls scare you.
- Katherine, age 13, Massachusetts

You should discuss the bullying with your parents or another trusted adult. Talk about your problem, and you might be surprised at how much help you'll get.
- Angelina, age 11, Oklahoma

When these girls bully you, you could respond, "Wow, you must not have much self-confidence, or you wouldn't keep being mean to me."
- Sarah, age 12, Nebraska

When these girls make mean comments, just walk away from them. Don't let them see you get angry or sad about their words. Even if you are hurt, try your best not to show it. If they see that they aren't getting to you, they might get bored and leave you alone.
- Ashley, age 11, Wisconsin

My dad has always told me that people tend to get bullied when they allow others to bully them. Every time these girls pick on you, you need to firmly say "Stop!" Remember, you have the power to defend yourself.
- Vianna, age 12, Canada

Focus on the fact that you go to school every day for one real purpose: to learn. If you keep yourself occupied with your homework and school activities, you might show these bullies that you don't have time for them.
- Kaelynna, age 11, Florida

Shake your head and chuckle as you walk away. This will show the bullies that their comments aren't getting under your skin, and they might give up and move on.
- Odessa, age 9, New Mexico

I've been bullied, too, and I had to figure out how to stand up for myself. Finally one day, I said, "I'm happy with myself, and I don't really care what you think about me." It put a stop to the bullying.
- Lillian, age 10, Ohio

When I was being picked on, I went to my school's guidance counselor for help, and she gave me some great advice. Practice comebacks and reactions to these bullies in front of a mirror until you're ready to confront them face-to-face.
- Eden, age 12, North Carolina

If the bullying gets even worse, you should talk to your teacher. Remember, you aren't being a tattletale if you're trying to protect yourself.
- Jenna, age 11, Pennsylvania

Surround yourself with a good support system. Stick close to your friends and spend time only with people who make you feel awesome. If you are around positive people, their positivity may rub off on you, and you can show those bullies that they can't hurt you.
- Celeste, age 12, Ohio

The most important thing is to not be mean back to these girls. Don't sink to their level. Keep calm and tell them that what they're doing isn't right. Standing up for yourself can be difficult, but you should try.
- Meg, age 10, Michigan

The next time these girls pick on you, grin and say, "Thanks! You just made my day!" Then walk away. They will be confused by your humor and will probably back off.
- Katie, age 11, New Jersey

Showing negative emotions might encourage these girls to bully you even more. They are trying to make you feel bad about yourself. Turn a negative comment into a positive one. For example, if a girl says something mean about your hair, just smile and say, "I like your hair, too." It will drive them crazy, but it might work.
- Harley, age 13, Alabama

On my team this year, there was a group of girls who weren't nice to the rest of the team. They would make fun of people about every little thing. When one of the girls bullied me again, I finally had enough. I said, "I don't care about your opinion. You need to stop this. Stop being mean to me and the other girls." And guess what? It worked! Sometimes you just need to find your voice to put an end to bullying.
- Gabriela, age 10, Ohio

People still call me the new girl. How can I start to feel like I'm fitting in?
I started at a new school this year, and even though I'm almost halfway through the year, the kids still call me "the new girl." All the kids are already in friend groups, so I often feel left out, especially when I sit alone on the bus. The other kids don't include me in their games or conversations, and it makes me mad sometimes. Is there anything I can do to not feel so left out?

I started at a new school this year, too, and I've learned that if you wait for people to reach out to you, you might be waiting for a while. So, reach out to them. Compliment someone on his drawing or congratulate a classmate on getting an A on a test. See what happens.
- Sabrina, age 11, Indiana

If someone calls you "the new girl," all you have to say is, "You know what? I'm not new anymore. So you don't have to call me that anymore."
- Elizabeth, age 8, South Carolina

Try to make friends with girls who aren't already in friend groups. Look around your school and see if there are a couple of ungrouped girls who seem nice. I tried that, and now we're starting our own book club.
- Shelby, age 10, Indiana

Instead of focusing on your own problem, keep your eyes open for a girl who may be having the same problem as you. If you're on the bus and you see someone sitting alone, ask her if you can sit down and get a conversation going. It could be the start of a great friendship.
- Madi, age 11, Georgia

Start a conversation by giving someone a compliment. You could say, "Hey, I like your shoes. Where did you get them?" Giving someone a compliment can lead to a conversation, and you might find out that you have something in common.
- An American Girl fan, age 12, Michigan

There's nothing wrong with being new. Remember, every person will be "the new kid" at some point in his or her life.
- Tiffany, age 11, Michigan

Try to make friends by getting out of your comfort zone. Talk to people more, and even crack a few jokes. People might want to be friends with you, but they might not want to push you because they think you are shy. Be yourself and you could have some new friends before you know it.
- Greta, age 10, Connecticut

Instead of waiting to be included in a game during recess, ask if you can play and jump right in. You could not only make a new friend, but have someone to sit with on the bus, too. Being the new girl shouldn't stop you from making friends.
- Katie, age 11, New Jersey

If you feel like you're carrying around these lonely feelings all day long, pour them into a diary instead. You could feel a lot better and it could become easier for you to make friends.
- Maggie, age 9, Indiana

I've moved a lot, and the best advice I can give you is this: don't change who you are to join a group. Be true to yourself, and you'll make friends who like you for you.
- Zoey, age 10, Indiana

Sometimes kids won't be friendly to you unless you are friendly to them. Try smiling at a girl who seems kind or start a conversation about her bracelet. If you're not the new girl, you should stop acting like you are one and think of your classmates as your friends.
- Abby, age 11, Washington

One good way to make friends is meeting kids who have similar hobbies and interests similar to yours. Start by joining a club that focuses on something you're interested in, and you just might meet people who are as awesome as you are.
- Mackenzie, age 12, Ohio

Could it be that you're not trying hard enough to be included? Sometimes I feel left out, too. My mom says that I need to socialize more, and not wait around for other people to make the first move.
- Agnes, age 11, Pennsylvania

If this problem gets to be too much for you to handle on your own, it might be time to talk to a teacher, parent, or other trusted adult.
- Camilla, age 10, Hawaii

I know how you feel, because at my school, I'm the new girl, too. It can be hard to make friends when the others have been friends for a while. Try to make friends with people who seem nice and invite them to your house for one-on-one time to get to know them better. Always be kind to everyone, and you'll find your place eventually. Hope this helps!
- Krishnaya, age 11, California

How can I feel more prepared for starting middle school?
I'm starting seventh grade soon, and I am REALLY nervous. How should I act? Will I be able to make new friends? Can I handle even more homework? How can I calm my jitters about going to middle school?

Everyone worries about starting middle school. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself—you won't know what will happen until school starts. If a problem does come up after you start school, you'll always be able to talk to a teacher or a parent.
- Ella, age 11, Wisconsin

You probably have other friends who are starting seventh grade, too, so why not ask them to your house to talk about your nervousness? You can also agree to support each other as you start this new chapter in your lives.
- Alana, age 12, Georgia

When you start to feel middle-school jitters, picture something that makes you laugh or think about a nice memory from your summer. It'll help you relax and feel better.
- Megan, age 9, Ohio

The best advice I can give you is this: be yourself! I once tried being someone I wasn't, and it didn't work out at all. But then I realized that I needed to let my inner self shine, and that's when I made a lot of true friends.
- Madi, age 12, Indiana

Your worries are perfectly normal. It might help if you and a parent ask your teachers questions before the first day of school. If things don't seem so mysterious, you might feel more prepared.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Hawaii

I started at a new school and was very nervous, so my mom taught me a trick. The night before school starts, say to yourself right before you go to bed, Everything will be OK. Keep saying it until the message sinks in.
- Cami, age 10, Iowa

My advice is to concentrate mainly on your schoolwork for the first week. Then, when you feel more comfortable, sit with new people at lunch, compliment a girl in your class on her bracelet, or ask someone a homework question. These are good friendship starters.
- Erin, age 11, Michigan

I'm starting seventh grade, too. Earlier this summer, I was really nervous. But then I decided to look on the bright side. I'll have great new teachers, make lots of new friends, and learn new, interesting things. Focus on the positive and not the negative.
- Katherine, age 12, Massachusetts

Buy a fun new backpack, get school supplies that show off your personality, and decorate your locker. Those little reminders of your personal style might make you feel more confident.
- Allison, age 11, Missouri

Remember that everybody is just as nervous as you are. There is bound to be a girl who feels as you do and who is looking for a new friend.
- Amelia, age 13, Michigan

Talk to older siblings or friends who already have been in seventh grade. As older students, they might give you helpful tips and ideas for handling problems.
- Maria, age 12, Texas

Middle school might seem overwhelming at first, but soon it'll turn into your normal routine. You'll be making friends and handling your homework before you know it.
- Kasey, age 13, Vermont

To make new friends, you could sign up for an after-school club, a sports team, or another school activity. You could meet a lot of kids who have the same interests as you.
- Lynessa, age 11, New York

Ask yourself these questions: Did I complete first through sixth grades? Did I make friends? Did I finish all of my homework? If you got through all of those other grades, you are going to get through seventh grade. You can do it!
- Ellie, age 9, Utah

When I started middle school, I was incredibly nervous. I worried about every possible thing that could go wrong. Later I found out that all of this worrying benefited me in a way. Because I was so anxious that everything would be hard when I got to school, everything seemed really easy. Opening my locker was a breeze. Finding my classrooms wasn't a problem. Things probably won't be as scary as they seem to you right now. Just take a breath and go for it.
- Allison, age 12, Kansas

How do I stay organized for school?
I'm having trouble staying organized for school. I always seem to be losing my homework, leaving textbooks at home, or forgetting to bring home my notes to study for tests. I want to get better grades, and I think being more organized could help me do that. Where should I start?

Start with a planner. A planner can help you keep track of due dates for homework, important tests, and the things you need to bring to school.
- Jackie, age 13, Maine

Whenever you get a few free minutes at school, such as before or after school or during recess, clean out your desk, locker, or shelf. It'll help you to see the important stuff instead of clutter.
- Mara, age 12, California

Use two folders for your homework. Label one "To Do" and the other "Turn In." Always put your homework in one of these two folders.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, North Carolina

At home, keep a special bin for school stuff. Put it in your room and drop your backpack and textbooks in it. Everything will be in one place instead of spread out all over your house.
- Gracie, age 12, California

Keep a mini notebook in your pocket. Whenever you think of something important that you'll need to bring somewhere, write yourself a reminder in the notebook.
- Olivia, age 11, New York

Here are some ways to be cleaner and better organized. If your backpack is too small, ask for a bigger one. Label your folders. Throw away things you don't need, such as crumpled papers. Instead of stuffing drawings from art class into your backpack, take them home and put them in a binder. You'll be on your way to organization.
- Elise, age 10, Illinois

Write down everything you need on a checklist. Before you leave the house, look through your backpack to make sure you have everything on that list. It's a great way to stay organized.
- Katherine, age 9, Florida

Pack your backpack the night before school. That way, you won't have to scramble to pack up in the morning and possibly leave things behind.
- Leia, age 12, Oregon

If you have a binder, divide it into sections by subject, such as reading, social studies, science, and so on. When you get an assignment, put it in the binder under its category. When you're done with your homework, put the assignment back. This system will keep your binder organized, and it's an easy way to find things.
- Lia, age 11, Vermont

I have a dry-erase board on my bedroom wall. Every day, I write down the school stuff I need to do. Then, when I finish each task, I mark it off. This always keeps me organized.
- Nikita, age 13, North Carolina

To avoid leaving textbooks at home, put them right into your backpack when you're finished with them. So simple, but it works.
- Anna, age 12, Virginia

When you need to remember something, write it on a sticky note. If you have to bring a textbook home from school, write yourself a note and stick it up in your locker. Or if you need to bring something from home, put a note on your bedroom door. Use these reminders whenever you need them, and they'll become part of your routine.
- Zoe, age 9, Missouri

Ask your teacher if he or she has any suggestions for organization. You might learn some helpful tips.
- Jacelyn, age 12, New York

Before bed, go through your backpack. Ask yourself questions such as, Do I have my math book? Is there a quiz tomorrow? Did I grab my spelling homework? Ask yourself similar questions before leaving school, too. Sometimes you just need to stop and think for a second before rushing off to the next thing. When it comes to being organized, slowing down can help a lot.
- Amaris, age 11, New York

FAMILY MATTERS
What are some things I can do to reconnect with my mom?
Lately, it seems as if my mom has been in a bad mood. I've been on my best behavior, but she just gets mad about everything. I want to be able to have fun together again. Are there some ways I can reconnect with my mom and make our relationship better?

You could make a sweet card for your mom. It could say something nice such as, "I love you!" or "You're an awesome mom!" Homemade cards always make my mom smile.
- Abby, age 10, Texas

Just give your mom a big hug whenever it looks like she needs one. It's an easy way to show you care.
- An American Girl fan, age 12, Illinois

Ask your mom if the two of you can have some "girl time" together. Eat at a favorite restaurant, go for a hike, or get manicures together. You and your mom can reconnect, and it'll be fun, too.
- Emma, age 11, Tennessee

To connect a little more with your mom, do something nice for her, such as making her favorite breakfast. Or finish your homework early so that you can spend some time together. It could make your relationship even better.
- Davin, age 12, New Mexico

Be mindful of your mom's feelings and give her time on her own to feel better. It's great that you care about your mom, but be respectful of her privacy and try to not be nosy.
- Gabrielle, age 10, New Hampshire

Give your mom a big smile or crack a joke. Do something together that makes you both feel good, such as going for a walk with your dog. That could be a nice mood boost for the two of you.
- Elle, age 12, Canada

My mom and I stay connected by keeping a journal together. I write an entry that my mom will read, and then she writes an entry that I'll read. We both tend to be very busy, so this is a nice way to stay in touch.
- Abigail, age 11, North Carolina

Reconnecting with your mom might be as simple as asking her, "How's your day going?" It will show her that you care about her and will get a conversation started, too.
- Liany, age 9, New York

Ask your mom if the two of you could work on a chore together, such as drying dishes or folding clothes. It will be a big help to her and will give you two a chance to catch up.
- Kenna, age 10, Minnesota

You could leave sweet or funny notes for her in places where she won't expect them, such as in her coat pocket or in her lunch for work. The notes could brighten her day and help you feel closer with your mom.
- Anna Grace, age 12, Louisiana

Make a "Jar of Fun." You and your mom could write down some activities you could do together on small slips of paper and then put them into the jar. When the two of you have some free time, choose an idea from the jar.
- Bianca, age 11, Washington

Remember that even if you or your mom isn't feeling the best, you will always love each other, and a little negativity isn't going to change that.
- Alexa, age 10, Michigan

How do I share a room with my very-messy little sister?
I'm about to share a bedroom with my little sister—and I don't want to! I love my sister, but she's just so messy, and I like everything to be organized. Does anyone have ideas for keeping things tidy in our room? How can I learn to share a room with my disorganized sis?

I share a room with three sisters, so I understand where you are coming from. We came up with a solution—a daily chore list. Every day, we take turns doing the jobs. It works!
- Brenna, age 11, Illinois

My sister and I have always shared a room, and we came up with a game called "Record Time." Each of us starts cleaning her half of the room at the same time, and we see who can finish the fastest. Maybe if you make organization fun, your sister will go along with cleaning.
- Adamary, age 13, New York

Sometimes little sisters can be a bit sensitive. Tell your sister about your feelings, but also find a way to make her feel good about having an organized room. Just try keeping a positive attitude about this.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, California

Nicely ask your sister if she will pick up her things when she's finished with them. If she doesn't, talk to your parents about keeping the room clean. If one of your parents talks to her, she might try harder to keep her space clean.
- Grace, age 9, Missouri

Set ground rules early on. If your sister knows your expectations, she might be more likely to keep her side clean. It may take her a little while to become organized, but be patient and enjoy fun times with your sis.
- Shannon, age 12, Rhode Island

My twin sister and I share a bedroom. Even though I'm messy and my sister's not, we've learned to get along. Make sure that there are separate spaces in your room. Divide the closet in half, split the desk into two sections, and even have a bin for each person. Once you know what area's yours and what's not, it'll be easier to share a room.
- Chloe, age 11, Alabama

When my two older sisters and I first started sharing a room, we first decided where our furniture would go (beds, dressers, and so on). Next we picked our boundaries. (I have my own reading corner, and my sisters each have spots for their own jewelry.) Then we got to decorate our areas however we wanted. It helps us stay organized and keep our personalities in our room, too.
- Dana, age 10, California

I share a room with my younger sister, and things can get very cluttered. So I make sure that at least I keep my part of the room clean. That way, it doesn't look as messy.
- Abigail, age 11, North Carolina

If I had to share a room with a messy sister, I would explain to her that keeping our bedroom clean could be a lot of fun. I would say, "When you clean your half of our room, you'll have more space to play games and we can do more activities together."
- Katie, age 9, New York

Instead of angrily telling your sister that you don't want to share a room with her, try to look at it as an awesome experience. Talk about where your things will go and who will do what to keep it clean. Sharing a room with your sis doesn't have to be the end of the world. It could be a way for you two to get closer.
- Mikayla, age 13, California

You and your sister could work out a schedule for keeping your room neat. For example, on Mondays you could organize things on your shelves, on Tuesdays you could clean the closets, and so on. Just make sure that you both clean together. And remember, this is your sister's room, too, so you both need to compromise.
- Lauren, age 12, Bermuda

Your sister might not be aware of how messy she is. Tell her that you'll share some organizing tips with her, and in the meantime, try your best to be patient. She won't keep things perfectly clean right away.
- An American Girl fan, age 9, North Carolina

Get baskets or bins for your sister's things. You could put labels on them, such as "Stuffed Animals" or "Games" (draw pictures if your sister is too young to read). Be sure to praise her when she puts her things away where they should go.
- Jessica, age 13, Canada

Think of sharing a room as a great opportunity. Maybe you will teach your sister how to be more organized.
- Isabel, age 12, Oregon

You could try thinking up new systems for organizing in your room. It might take a while for your sister to change, but if you keep trying, she might get there.
- Camryn, age 11, New York

Have a conversation with your sister about how you want the room to stay clean. Tell her that you're excited about sharing a room with her, but since it's your room, too, you want it to stay clean. Tell her that if she puts her things away, the bedroom will look nice and neat. This way, you can improve your chances to stay friends.
- M.K., age 12, Rhode Island

How do I get closer with my new stepdad?
My mom recently remarried, so I have a new stepdad. I'm happy for her, and I'm glad that he's a member of our family, but it's still hard for me to get used to having him around. I want to get closer with him, but I'm not sure how. What should I do?

Try to spend more one-on-one time with your stepdad. Walk the dog together or go to a coffee shop. Having uninterrupted time with your stepdad can help you get to know him better.
- Jubilee, age 12, Maryland

I think you should talk to your mom. Maybe she can think of some ways for you and your stepdad to become closer. Your stepdad probably feels the same way you do and would like to have a better relationship with you.
- Maggy, age 13, Iowa

A good way to bond with your stepdad would be to set aside an evening to play board games and have snacks together. The rest of your family can join in, too. It would be a great way to have fun and to get to know each other better.
- Isebella, age 9, Arizona

Well, you and your stepdad definitely have one thing in common—you both love your mom! Start there, and you might find out that you have more things in common.
- Andile, age 11, Georgia

One word: talk. Talk to your stepdad about your school day or about things that annoy you. Ask him about his day, too. Pretty soon, you'll feel closer to him.
- Charis, age 10, West Virginia

Just go with the flow. Don't be rude to your new stepfather, but don't be over-the- top sugary-sweet, either. Eventually you'll get used to him, and he'll feel like part of your family.
- Amla, age 11, California

Explain to your stepdad how you feel. Tell him that you are happy he is a member of the family and that it's important to you that you bond. I bet he would be touched to hear that. Before you know it, you could be doing all sorts of fun things together.
- Elizabeth Anne, age 10, Texas

Think about it this way: Your new stepdad might be feeling the same way you are but is afraid to come off as pushy. Give him your support and friendship, and maybe he'll feel more comfortable with you.
- Juliette, age 12, Virginia

Ask your mom if you and your stepdad can have a some special time together. You could watch a movie, build a birdhouse, or just have a conversation. You might feel closer to your new stepdad just by spending more time with him.
- Zoe, age 10, Missouri

Suggest that you and your family go on a trip somewhere, such as to an amusement park, a campground, or a local park. Being together as a family could help you feel closer to your stepdad, and you'll make great memories, too.
- Gianna, age 11, Iowa

Try to include your stepdad in activities that you already do. For example, you could ask your dad to go for a walk with you around your neighborhood or ask him if he wants to watch TV with you. Make being with your stepdad a part of your normal routine.
- Emma, age 10, Missouri

Your stepdad is now a part of your family, and you will have plenty of time to get to know him and accept him. Have patience, and the closeness will come in time.
- Shaylee, age 13, Alabama

First of all, good for you for being happy for your mom even if you aren't comfortable with all of the changes. And second, the solution to your problem is simple—find something that you have in common with your new stepdad. If you both love music, teach him how to play a few songs on the piano. If you two are football fans, watch a game with him. Get creative!
- Sophia, age 10, Colorado

Are there any games I can play with my little sister that aren't babyish?
My little sister constantly wants to play with me, but I'm too old to play her favorite games. I don't want her to be sad, but I also want to do things that are fun and not "babyish." How can I do things with my little sister and be happy, too?

My little sister always wants to play with me, too, but usually she is happy just sitting in my room playing with some toys I keep around for her. Ask your sis to choose a couple of her favorite toys to put in your room, or pick a few toys you've outgrown to pass along to her. Your sister will enjoy hanging out in her big sis's bedroom.
- Julia, age 12, Maryland

Spend time doing things you both like to do. If you and your sis like animals, walk around your backyard and pretend you're at a zoo. Do you both love to read? Go to a library and read together. If you try, you're sure to find some things that you both will like doing.
- Julie, age 10, Louisiana

Teach your sister a few of your favorite games. Little siblings usually think that whatever their older siblings do is super-cool. My little sister and I love to play board games together.
- Naya, age 11, California

Try not to rush into growing up. You're never too old to spend some quality time with your family members. Don't think of your sister's games as "babyish"—think of playing with your little sis as a way of getting closer to her. .
- Victoria, age 13, South Carolina

Take turns choosing the activities. You could start out by playing a game that your sister likes. Next you could play a game that you both enjoy. When you play one of her games, focus on spending time with her and not on the game. Chances are, you'll end up having fun.
- Emily, age 12, Texas

Doing activities you both enjoy at the same time isn't as hard as you think. For example, if your sister wants to color, give her some paper and crayons, and while she's drawing, work on a craft project of your own. That way, you'll both be happy.
- Emma, age 11, Massachusetts

Instead of thinking that spending time with your sister means you have to do "babyish" things, why don't you come up with ways to make it fun? Suggest a funny game, draw creative pictures, or take goofy pictures together. You'll smile when you look back at the fun times you've had together.
- Aylin, age 10, Connecticut

When your sister asks you to play, is anyone looking? No games are too "babyish" when it's just you and your sister. Don't be afraid to act a little silly― you and your sis could have a lot of fun together.
- Brenna, age 12, Arizona

Choose a book that was a favorite when you were little, and read it to your sister. Small children love stories, especially ones with pictures.
- Mary, age 13, Wisconsin

Younger sisters usually love to pretend they're "big girls." Why not let your sister dress up in some of your clothes and put on an imaginary fashion show? Or perhaps you could teach her a few spelling words or something else you're learning in school. You'll be surprised at how happy this could make her.
- Sarah, age 12, Oregon

It's great that you want to spend time with your little sis. Chances are, as long as you are playing with her, it won't matter to her what you play. Suggest some things that you'll both be happy with, but remember: if she's little, she'll be able to do only so much.
- Abby, age 13, Oklahoma

What are your favorite games? What are your sister's favorite games? Try to make up a new activity that mixes elements of each favorite game. Your sister will love helping you invent something new to play.
- Natasha, age 9, California

You and your sister could start a hobby together. Paint pictures, collect seashells, or identify birds in your neighborhood. You'll be spending great quality time with your sister.
- Kaleigh, age 10, Oregon

Your little sister wants to play games with you because she thinks you're an awesome big sister. Take this as a compliment! Playing games with your sister shouldn't make you feel embarrassed. There are plenty of big siblings who play with their younger brothers or sisters. Spending quality time with your sis is more important than what anyone might think of you.
- Allison, age 12, Kansas

When I babysit my siblings, how can I get them to calm down and listen?
Summer is really busy for my parents, so I've been babysitting my little brothers and sisters more than usual. I want to help out, but my siblings are a lot to handle. How can I get them to calm down and listen to me?

Before you babysit, come up with a list of games, crafts, and other activities that will last the whole time you are babysitting. Share the list with your siblings ahead of time, and they'll have things to look forward to. The activities might also keep them distracted.
- Anna Claire, age 12, Tennessee

Ask your parents if you could have a friend come over and help you every once in a while. It'll be good to have some extra help, and you'll get to spend time with a pal, too.
- Delaney, age 8, North Carolina

Ask your parents to talk to your siblings before you babysit. They can tell the kids how they should behave and that they need to respect you.
- Laura, age 12, Virginia

Gather paper, glue, crayons, and other craft supplies and cover a table in newspaper. Ask your siblings to sit at the table and say, "Hey, guys, Mom and Dad have been really busy, and I think they'd love to come home to something handmade and special." You'll give them something to focus on by working together, and your parents will love it.
- Sarah, age 12, Oregon

Whatever you do, try not to yell or lose your temper. Before you blow your top, suggest a quiet activity to do with your siblings, such as watching a movie or reading a story. It might help you calm down, too.
- Caroline, age 10, Massachusetts

Have a "bag of tricks" to use when you babysit your siblings. It could include games, puzzles, small toys, or other things that your siblings will like. If they start to get out of control, pull something from your bag of tricks. They will be excited to play with something new, and it might help redirect them.
- Allison, age 12, Kansas

Turn on fun music and teach them a dance routine to perform for your parents when they get home. It might keep your siblings really busy.
- Eleanor, age 10, Ohio

Offer rewards to your siblings if they listen to you. You could say something such as, "If you guys quiet down, you can have ten more minutes of TV time."
- Emma, age 11, Massachusetts

If you get angry and stomp away, your siblings will feel as if they're in charge. If you're firm but nice, your tone might help them understand that your parents have left you in charge.
- Allie, age 13, California

The next time you babysit, suggest a "Helping Hands Day." Since your parents have been so busy, they might appreciate coming home to a clean house. To get your siblings on board with the idea, make up challenges to do throughout the day, such as, "Whoever does the most chores wins" or "The kid with the cleanest window gets to pick a game to play later." It'll keep your siblings busy, and it will be helpful to your parents.
- Aylin, age 10, Connecticut

If your siblings are getting out of hand, tell each child to play quietly by himself for 15 minutes. You'll get some time to cool off, and it might calm the kids down, too.
- Joanna, age 9, Ohio

When I babysit, I like to bring along a chart and some stickers. Every time a kid does something nice or helpful, he or she gets a sticker next to his or her name. At the end of the night, whoever has the most stickers gets a small prize.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Minnesota

Ask your parents what they have done in the past to calm your siblings down. Then put your own spin on things. If your brothers and sisters love puppet shows, make your own sock puppets and cardboard theater and put on a show.
- Olivia, age 12, New York

I'm the oldest of six kids, and I have to watch my little siblings sometimes, too. You probably want your siblings to like you. If you're someone they look up to and think is fun, they might start listening to you. Things could be better if you act more like a fun sister than a bossy babysitter. Good luck!
- Clara, age 13, Pennsylvania

How can I find peace and quiet in a house full of noisy brothers?
I am the only girl in a family with lots of noisy brothers. I love them all, but sometimes they drive me crazy, especially when I'm trying to do schoolwork. I never seem to find peace and quiet, no matter where I go in my house. What can I do?

Talk to your parents about creating your own space. You could make space in your room for a little chair or ask to have a corner of the basement. It might be a peaceful place to do homework.
- Alana, age 12, Georgia

When you need to study or do schoolwork, you could go to a local library. It's usually quiet there, and nobody will bother you.
- Ruby, age 8, New Jersey

Try doing your homework while wearing headphones. You don't need to listen to music—the headphones could block out some of the background noise.
- Anika, age 12, New York

I have a small dry-erase board on my bedroom door. When I need to concentrate on something, I'll write "Quiet, please" on the board. That usually lets my sisters know to keep the noise down.
- Jillian, age 10, Georgia

Before sitting down to do homework, come up with an activity that might distract your brothers, such as turning on their favorite TV show.
- Anna, age 9, California

My advice is to call a family meeting. Talk to your brothers about ways to quiet down, especially when one or more of you are doing homework. This might help everyone when it comes time to study or do other quiet activities.
- Grace, age 11, Massachusetts

Go outside. There's lots of room out there! Your backyard, a local park, or even a nearby coffee shop might be a perfect place to find peace and quiet.
- Kaleigh, age 10, Oregon

The next time your brothers are noisy, you could say, "Hey, I'm trying to study for a big science test tomorrow. Would you mind being a little quieter or going into another room? I'd really appreciate it." If you're nice, your brothers might not have a problem with quieting down.
- Allison, age 12, Kansas

Explain to your brothers why you need time alone sometimes. If they see how important your homework is or that you just need a chance to unwind, they might be able to understand how you would like to spend your time.
- Katie, age 8, Georgia

Try to set up study sessions at friends' houses every once in a while. It'll give you a break from the noise.
- Melanie, age 11, California

Ask your brothers if you all can have a "quiet hour" every day. They can take a nap or read a book while you work on homework or have a phone chat with a friend. This could help you and your brothers work around each other.
- Lauren, age 12, Connecticut

Tell your brothers that if they can stay quiet, you'll play a fun game with them as soon as you're done with your work. That might be a good incentive for them to keep it down.
- Kaitlin, age 10, Utah

My siblings and I have an agreement. We don't ever bother each other if we're doing schoolwork or having time with our friends. See if you can make a similar deal with your brothers. But make sure that you don't leave your brothers out of your life too much. If you ignore them, they'll feel left out, and they might start to bug you for attention.
- Adriel, age 12, New York

I have four older brothers who constantly make noise. The best advice I can give is be patient. Whenever you start feeling aggravated, count to five and take a deep breath. Then calmly ask them if they can be quiet for at least a half hour. Set a timer if you need to. Good luck!
- Grace, age 13, Illinois

THE CARE AND KEEPING OF FRIENDS
I'm pretty shy, so how can I start up a new friendship?
There's a boy at church I'd like to become friends with, but I tend to be pretty shy when it comes to making new friends. He seems really nice and fun, but he always seems to be talking to other friends, so I don't see a good chance to start a conversation. How can I get to know him better?

Keep your eyes open for a time when this boy isn't with his friends, and simply walk up to him and say, "Hi." Sometimes one word is enough to start a friendship.
- Clarrissa, age 8, Ohio

If you see an empty spot next to this boy, sit down and strike up a conversation. Or if you're both at a church event, such as a potluck, ask if you can join him. All it takes is just a little bit of courage.
- Nikki, age 11, Maryland

There's no need to try to rush a friendship. It's OK that you're a shy person, and it's also OK to let a friendship develop slowly. If you have a few conversations here and there, that might be enough to become friends.
- Maria, age 12, Texas

If this boy and a friend are doing an activity together, such as a fun game before or after church, ask if you can join in.
- Samantha, age 11, Ohio

Don't think of it as "making friends with a boy." Think of it as starting a friendship as you would with anyone else. If you view it this way, it might be easier to feel comfortable.
- Macy, age 13, Maryland

I tend to be pretty shy, too. Before I introduce myself to someone new, I simply take a few deep breaths, get calm, and then walk up to the person. Doing that makes me feel a lot better.
- Quinn, age 11, Pennsylvania

Think about your close friends. How do you make them laugh? Try that same approach with this boy. When you say something funny, it might help you to relax and let the friendship happen naturally.
- Ana, age 12, New Mexico

Instead of trying to talk to this boy right before church, see if you can catch him afterward. It might give you more time to have a conversation with him.
- Isabel, age 10, New York

Ask questions that can get a conversation going. Ask him if he's seen any good movies lately or about an event coming up at church. It's a good way to see what you have in common, too.
- Joy, age 12, Maryland

The next time you see this boy, just smile at him. It's a simple gesture, but it will let him know that you're a friendly person.
- Anna, age 11, Minnesota

You could come up with a few conversation starters ahead of time, such as asking him which sports he plays or what his best subject in school is. And if you feel nervous, ask yourself, What's the worst that could happen?
- Avalon, age 12, California

It could be tough to make a new friend when you're about to attend a church service. Does your church offer games or activities for kids, such as a youth group? If this boy is in one of the groups, that might be a better, more casual opportunity to start up a friendship.
- Grace, age 11, Missouri

Friendships don't suddenly happen out of thin air. Friendships take lots of little building blocks. Ask this boy how his day is going. Sit in an area near him and give him a kind smile. Just show him your personality and how nice you are, and you could become friends in no time.
- Elle, age 12, Canada

How can my friend and I stay friends when I always feel like the third wheel?
My good friend ended up in a different class this year. She became friends with a girl in that class, and they seem to spend every second together. I hardly ever get to see my friend, and when I try to hang out with the two of them, I feel like a third wheel. I miss my friend. What should I do?

Just because your good friend isn't in your class doesn't mean that you two can't still be buds. Invite her over your house, and occasionally include the other friend, too. All three of you could become close friends.
- Katie, age 11, New Jersey

When a similar situation happened with my friend, I took her aside and said, "Hey, I feel as if we haven't spent a lot of time together lately. Do you want to do something this weekend?" That way, I didn't have to come right out and say how I felt, but it showed her that I wanted to reconnect.
- Allison, age 13, Kansas

Although it might not feel good to not be as close with your friend, this might be a good opportunity to start friendships with people in your own class.
- Natalie, age 10, Connecticut

When my friend started hanging out with another girl, I felt left out. I thought that she didn't like me anymore. But after I had a heart-to-heart with her, it turned out that she hadn't realized that she was leaving me out. After that, she started to spend time with all of her friends more equally.
- Abigail, age 13, South Carolina

When it comes to friendship, trios can be tricky because sometimes things feel uneven. Try to spend time with the two of them, but if it continues to feel awkward, it might be time to hang out with some new friends.
- Aylin, age 11, Connecticut

Feeling as if you're drifting apart from a friend can be hard. But if you value this friendship, keep in touch even if you're not as close. Say hi and smile at your friend, give her a card on her birthday, and occasionally do something fun with her. Meanwhile, strengthen your other friendships so that you won't feel alone.
- Annika, age 13, Oregon

Remember, even if your friend spends time with another girl, that doesn't mean she doesn't want to spend any time with you. She just might be a little caught up with this new friendship, and that's what you're seeing.
- Sofia, age 8, Connecticut

Maybe you simply need to know the other girl a little better. Invite the two friends out for ice cream or a movie and try to get to know the other girl. Who knows? Maybe she will become a close friend of yours, too.
- Abigail, age 11, California

Find a quiet moment to talk to your friend alone. Share your feelings, and tell her that you miss her friendship.
- Amaya, age 10, Rhode Island

Being the third wheel can be tough, but you don't want to make the other friend feel left out either. Make peace with the fact that your friend has another close friendship, because it's perfectly OK for a girl to have more than one friend.
- Lily, age 9, Massachusetts

It's one thing if your friend is nice to a new friend in her class, but it's another thing if she is excluding you on purpose. If you're not sure where her head's at, talk it out with your friend.
- Madison, age 11, Montana

Even though it might feel natural to be a little jealous, try your best to see the good in this other girl who's been hanging out with your friend. Negative feelings might hurt you and your friend, too. Use this time to work on other friendships, and if you and your friend drift apart, you'll have new friends whom you can lean on.
- Celeste, age 12, New Jersey

My friend feels less like a teammate and more like a coach. Can I put a stop to the bossiness?
My best friend and I are on the same basketball team. I thought it would be fun to be teammates together, but since we started playing, she has become very bossy. If I make a mistake, she calls me out on it in front of everyone and embarrasses me. She's starting to feel more like a coach than my friend. What should I do?

Share your feelings with your friend. Take a quiet moment to talk to her (not during practice), and try to straighten things out. It just might help.
- Emma, age 11, West Virginia

Whatever you do, don't react to your friend's comments during practice by saying unkind things to her or getting angry. That'll just make things worse, and then your friendship could really fall apart.
- Chloe, age 14, Maryland

There are a couple of things you could say to your friend. You could remind her that every girl on the team is equal and there's only one coach. Or you could tell her that every person makes mistakes from time to time and you don't appreciate it when she points out yours.
- Alex, age 11, California

If you are nervous about confronting your friend, share your concerns with your coach after practice. Your coach may be able to handle the situation without having a big talk with your friend.
- Cara, age 12, Pennsylvania

Some people are really competitive. It sounds as if your friend wants the team to be successful. That's OK, but you should ask her to not comment on your performance during practice.
- Dianna, age 11, Texas

It sounds as if your friend is trying to take charge. The next time this girl calls you out on a mistake at practice, say, "Hey, I'm doing my best."
- Brooke, age 13, Kentucky

Tell your friend that you appreciate that she's trying to help you improve, but you'd rather ask the coach for extra help if you need it.
- Adelaide, age 12, Maryland

Take your friend aside and say, "I feel like your comments during practice are starting to affect our friendship. We've had a lot of fun times together, and I don't want a small problem like this to hurt our friendship."
- An American Girl fan, age 10, Kentucky

At practice, if your friend says something bossy or rude to you, ask yourself, Would a bully say that? If the answer to that question often is yes, then tell your friend that you're feeling confused and worried that she's acting more like a bully than your best friend.
- Allie, age 9, Texas

One way to respond to a bossy remark could be, "Thanks, but no one's perfect."
- Abby, age 13, Tennessee

Maybe your friend thinks she is helping or encouraging you, but you are seeing her comments differently. Talk to your friend and try to get on the same page.
- Brigid, age 11, New Jersey

Sometimes people say things that come across the wrong way, and they don't realize that they're being rude. If you talk to your friend and she continues to embarrass you, discuss this with a parent or another trusted adult who can help.
- Grace, age 13, Georgia

The next time your friend is bossy, say, "Hey, we're here to have fun!" or "Let's just focus on playing the game."
- Sarah, age 9, Virginia

Your friend might not realize that she's being bossy. Some people just tend to fall into more of a leadership role, but that's not an excuse to be bossy and embarrass you in front of others. You could say to your friend, "Sometimes at practice, your comments embarrass me in front of our teammates. I know you're trying to help me and the team, but I'd rather get the help I need from our coach. Let's just play together as friends, OK?" You can tell her how you feel and be kind about it, too.
- Allison, age 13, Kansas

How can I tell a girl that she's not my best friend?
There's a girl at school who thinks we are best friends. She always says, "I'm so glad we're best friends," but I don't feel the same way. I think she's nice, but deep down, I know that she's not my best friend. I don't want to hurt her feelings, but I don't want to be dishonest with her either. What should I do?

When she says you two are best friends, you could say, "Well, rather than one best friend, I like to have a few good friends, and I'm glad you're one of them."
- Ava, age 9, Washington

Instead of being negative about this situation, look on the bright side. If this girl likes you a lot, that must mean that you're a kind, awesome person. The next time this girl says you're her best friend, think about it in a positive way and say something nice back to her.
- Ashley, age 10, Pennsylvania

Instead of thinking about how you feel, put yourself in this girl's shoes. Maybe she wants to be best friends with you because she needs some friends to lean on. Even if you aren't best friends, just try to be a friend to her.
- Christine, age 13, Florida

It sounds as if this girl likes and admires you. Even if you don't feel the same way, make an effort to hang out with her now and then. You don't have to be 100% best friends, but you can show that you care.
- Daisy, age 9, Pennsylvania

The good news is that you don't have to be this girl's best friend. Be nice to her, hang out with her, and be her friend. There's nothing dishonest about being nice.
- Evelea, age 12, Illinois

Keep spending time with this girl at school, sleepovers, or anything else that you might do as friends. Maybe you'll get to know her better and you two will get closer. It's not a bad thing to see where this friendship might lead.
- Emily, age 8, Maryland

If this girl says, "I'm so glad we're best friends," you could say, "Yeah, you're a great friend." That way, you won't have to admit that you don't feel the same way, and you're still being kind to her.
- Allison, age 13, California

If you feel that you and this girl should not be friends, slowly edge away from the friendship. You don't have to tell her that you're not best friends, but at the same time, you can choose to not encourage the friendship. Check in with this girl once in a while, but spend time with other friends, too.
- Sarah, age 12, Texas

It sounds as ifthis girl might just be trying to be nice to you, and this is her way of doing it. Focus on what made you friends with this girl in the first place, and try not to think about whether or not you're "best" friends. It doesn't matter.
- Lia, age 13, Washington

If this girl asks you if she is your best friend, just smile and say, "I don't rank my friends. I value all of them equally!"
- Elsie, age 10, New Hampshire

Be careful with this girl's feelings. Remember, when you have a choice between being right and kind, you can choose kind.
- Ria, age 12, California

Don't tell this girl that you're not best friends—it could really hurt her feelings. Instead, be as nice to her as you would with any other friend. "Best friend" is just a title, and it doesn't make a friend any more special. You don't have to choose a best friend. If this girl asks if you're best friends, you could respond, "All of my friends are wonderful, including you, so I don't want to give anyone the Ôbest friend' label." Hope this helps!
- Abby, age 13, Tennessee

After a big fight with my friend, how can I let her know I'm sorry?
My best friend and I have been inseparable for as long as I can remember, but recently, she and I had a really big fight. I've tried to apologize, but she refuses to speak to me. How can I let her know that I'm sorry?

I think you could make a nice card for your friend that explains how sorry you are. Tell her that it makes you unhappy when you two fight, and you would be very glad if you could be friends again. Drop it in the mail or slip it into her locker.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Michigan

Try small acts of kindness, such as leaving an eraser in your friend's favorite color or a small piece of candy on her desk with a note. It might help her come around enough that you'll have a chance to apologize.
- Erin, age 10, Florida

If you have been trying to talk to your friend about this at school, maybe she doesn't feel comfortable talking about it there. Instead, try calling her on the phone, texting her, or sending her an e-mail to let her know how sorry you are.
- Morgan, age 8, Colorado

If your friend isn't interested in talking to you, you could pull her aside for just a moment to say, "I want you to know that I'm sorry, but I also want you to know that I'm going to give you some space. I'm here whenever you're ready to talk."
- Jess, age 10, Virginia

Give your friend a little time to think things over before trying to apologize again. Maybe you should do some thinking, too. Was the fight worth it? Is there something you can do to fix the problem besides apologizing?
- Veronica, age 12, Missouri

You could draw a comic for your friend. Illustrate the story of how you two became friends, and apologize about the fight, too. Maybe if she sees how sorry you are, she'll move on and you can be friends again.
- Lili, age 11, Illinois

Here's a creative way to approach this problem: Make a collage or a scrapbook of photos of you and your friend. Write a note on it that says, "I'm really sorry. I just wanted to remind you of the fun times we've had together." I hope this can inspire your friend to work on the friendship and make it strong again.
- Claire, age 12, Virginia

One of the best ways you can show that you're sorry is through your actions. If your friend notices that you're doing everything you can to make things right, she might start talking to you again. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
- Abby, age 13, Tennessee

Even though it's hard, try to get your mind off this problem and do other things, such as seeing other friends or doing a favorite activity. Your friend might miss you and realize that she needs you as a friend.
- Nancy, age 11, Indiana

Keep it simple. In person or in a note, you could say, "Our friendship means a lot to me." It might make your friend see how much you want to work things out.
- Polina, age 9, Illinois

See if your friend would be willing to come to your house for a bit. Maybe she could even come for a sleepover. It'll give you time and privacy to talk, and you could start having fun together again, too.
- Isabella, age 10, California

In this situation, try to be the nicer person. Always be polite to this girl, even if she isn't showing you the same respect in return. Having an attitude and saying mean things will get you nowhere. If your friend means a lot to you, keep showing her kindness, and it might rub off on your friend.
- An American Girl fan, age 12, New York

If you try your best to make up with this girl and she still won't accept your apology, then maybe she's not a true friend. Accept it as her loss, and have fun with your other friends. Good luck!
- Ana, age 8, Canada

My friend only seems interested in hanging out with boys. Will we ever have girl time again?
My best friend and I love to spend time together, but lately, whenever she comes over to my house, she seems to be more interested in hanging out with my brother and his guy friends. We barely get to do things as just the two of us, and I'm starting to feel frustrated. How can I get my friend to be interested in girl time again?

Even if your friend was hanging out with a sister instead of your brother, it still hurts that she isn't spending time with you. The next time she plays with your brother and his friends, you could playfully say, "Hey, I thought you were here to hang out with me." If she doesn't pay attention to you, walk away and she just might get the message.
- Katherine, age 13, Massachusetts

If you can, invite your friend to come over when your brother isn't home. If he goes to a regular sports practice or if you know he'll be at a friend's house, that might be a good time to have your friend over for just girl time.
- Madison, age 12, Kansas

If you and your friend have a favorite game that you like to play together, ask your brother and his friends if they want to play it for a bit. That way, everyone can be in on the fun.
- Lili, age 11, Illinois

Have a heart-to-heart with this girl. Use sentences that start with "I" instead of "you." For example, instead of saying, "You never spend time with me anymore," say, "I feel left out when you hang out with my brother and his friends instead of with me."
- Alexa, age 10, Michigan

Why not invite your friend to do something outside of your house? You could ride bikes around your neighborhood or catch a movie.
- Megan, age 13, Massachusetts

This might be a time in your friend's life when her attention is turning to boys. Be patient and give her a couple of weeks. If she's still leaving you out in order to hang out with your brother, try taking a break. If you give her some space, she might realize that she misses you.
- Claire, age 12, Virginia

Tell your friend that you care about her and you miss the time you used to spend together. Remind her of all the great times you've had, too. It'll help her to understand how important her friendship is to you.
- Eva, age 9, Michigan

It sounds as if your friend thinks your brother and his friends are pretty cool. Why not join in on the fun? You can always have girl time later, once the boys move on to something else to do.
- Madeliene, age 11, Florida

Suggest a game that both the boys and the girls would enjoy playing. That way, you can still have fun with your friend and you won't feel left out.
- Grace, age 12, Michigan

Instead of trying to push your friend to hang out with you more, you could calmly say to her that you miss "me and you" time. You just might get one-on-one time more often.
- Katie, age 11, New Jersey

As friends get older, they develop new interests and discover new activities that they enjoy. Try not to get mad or feel aggravated that your friend is spending time with your brother and his friends. It might be hard, but do your best to be patient with your friend.
- Della Marie, age 10, New Jersey

When my friend comes over, she always gushes over my little brother and sister, and sometimes it bothers me, which is why I talked to my friend about it. Pull your friend aside and talk to her about how you feel. Maybe you could suggest that once a month, you two can have a "girls' day." That way, you won't grow apart.
- Abigail, age 11, North Carolina

THE CARE AND KEEPING OF YOU
How can I shine my inner star when I'm at school?
No one seems to know I exist at my school. I feel as if I just fade into the background while other people start up friendships or plan fun things to do with each other. I'm naturally shy, but I also want to start standing out. How can I shine in a sky of bright stars at my school?

You don't always have to have big, long conversations with people. Standing out can be as simple as smiling at someone in the hallway or waving at someone across the lunchroom. Do that, and then you can start standing out as a friendly girl in your school.
- Allison, age 13, Kansas

Don't expect to be an expert at making friends in just one day. Building confidence takes time and patience. Go slowly, and little by little, you might start feeling brave enough to make new friends.
- Ellen, age 12, New York

If people in your school aren't noticing you, think of it as their loss. You don't need to be super-outgoing or popular to make a difference. Remember, when you are truly yourself, you always shine like a star.
- Abby, age 13, Tennessee

I used to be very shy at school, but then I decided to take a chance by joining student council. I was nervous at first, but over time, I started to feel more comfortable sharing ideas and heading up projects. Student council has helped me feel less afraid to talk to others.
- Cassidy, age 11, Wyoming

You don't have to be a chatterbox to stand out. If you feel comfortable as a girl who tends to be quieter than most, then that's OK. You can still make friends and show your true self.
- Elle, age 12, Utah

Practice talking to people outside of school―for example, by placing an order with a server at a restaurant or calling a family member on the phone. When you feel more comfortable, strike up conversations at school.
- Paige, age 11, California

Being kind to others can help you feel good and more confident about yourself. Try small acts of kindness, such as helping pick up someone's dropped books or offering to help a classmate who's struggling with an assignment. Let what's inside do the talking, and you'll stand out in your own way.
- Lauren, age 12, Illinois

Whenever you feel invisible, don't wait for someone else to make the first move. Say hi to someone instead. Start a conversation by asking how the person's day is going or complimenting her on something she's wearing. It might brighten her day and start a new friendship, too.
- Zoe, age 10, Missouri

On your quest toward more self-confidence, don't try to copy anyone else. Just be your unique self, shyness and all.
- Miriam, age 12, Washington

I used to feel invisible, too. To work through my shyness, I started talking with the classmates I was assigned to sit next to, and that helped a lot. Then I got involved in a local club, and I started to talk to even more people. Now I hang out with friends and don't feel invisible anymore.
- Charis, age 9, Missouri

Don't forget that you are no different than anyone else. Even though you're shy, you have as much of a right as anyone to say hi to people and to start new friendships. If you show your friendly side, people might start opening up to you.
- Allie, age 11, Arizona

When I was younger, I felt jittery around people. Then one day, when I wanted to play with some kids, I said to myself, What's the worst that could happen? Someone won't want to play with me? There are plenty of other kids I can play with. This thinking has helped me make friends. I've learned that it's OK to be a little shy, as long as I'm not missing out on friendships.
- Amy, age 12, Minnesota

I have a disability, so some kids in my school think of me as "different." I've found that talking to a parent or an adult I trust about my feelings helps me overcome shyness.
- Melanie, age 11, California

You don't have to be friends with every kid in the school to shine your brightest. Friendships are great and could help you build your confidence, but something you love to do can help you be your truest self. Do you love to dance? Play tennis? Garden? If you follow your passion, you can shine even brighter without changing a thing.
- Charlotte, age 12, Texas

To build more confidence, all it takes are small steps. Introduce yourself to someone else who seems shy, or sit next to someone you'd like to know better at lunch. The more times you introduce yourself, the more confidence you can build and the less invisible you might feel. Good luck!
- Rosarie, age 13, Pennsylvania

How can I calm my jitters about joining a new cheerleading team?
I joined a new cheerleading team at school, and I'm just about to start. I'm really nervous because I don't know any of the girls. What if they make fun of me? What if no one likes me? How can I calm my jitters and feel excited about cheerleading?

Instead of thinking about what these girls might think, try to be the best cheerleader you can be. If the other girls see how excited you are about cheerleading, they might be even more eager to befriend you. After all, those girls are there because they love cheerleading, too.
- Lyric, age 12, Vermont

I tend to worry a lot about things. In situations that make me nervous, I try my best to stay calm and take deep breaths. Push through those jitters and start having fun instead.
- Charis, age 10, West Virginia

Cheerleading is all about spirit. A huge smile may be even more useful than a back handspring!
- Jennie, age 11, New York

Worrying won't help you—in fact, it will probably make you feel worse. Instead, just go with the flow and make the best of being the "new kid" on the team. Remind yourself that this is a great opportunity to make new friends.
- Abby, age 13, Tennessee

Find your inner confidence. Go up to the other girls and introduce yourself. Ask questions such as, "How long have you been on the squad?" or "What is your favorite routine?" It's a great way to spark new friendships. Remember, everyone is new at something at one time or another.
- Maggie, age 11, Canada

Don't let fear stop you from doing something you want to do. Just look around, find someone who seems nice, and talk to her. You could wind up being good friends.
- Alexa, age 10, Michigan

Think positive. Tell yourself, I'm going to make friends, and cheerleading will be a lot of fun. The more you say it, the more you might believe it, and your nervousness might disappear.
- Meghan, age 13, Virginia

A couple of months ago, I joined a cheerleading squad, and I didn't know any girls. I found out that everyone is usually too busy focusing on the routine to have time to say anything unkind. Whatever you do, enjoy cheer!
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Arizona

If you think about it, every girl on your squad probably has been nervous about something, such as being new or learning a hard routine. Feeling nervous is normal. The important thing is to have fun. Just go to practices and be yourself.
- Michaela, age 10, New York

What if the girls don't make fun of you? What if everybody thinks that you are awesome? What if you make new friends and have fun? Instead of picturing what might go wrong, focus on having a great time.
- Kalea, age 11, Minnesota

Don't worry about the girls not liking you—there's bound to be someone on the squad you'll hit it off with. Before you start cheerleading, keep your mind busy. Read a favorite book, hang out with a friend, or make up a silly dance routine.
- Allie, age 9, Texas

Before you start cheerleading, try to connect with a few girls from your team. You could invite someone over to your house or sit with her at lunch. It might help you to know someone before you start.
- Aditi, age 11, New Jersey

You joined the cheerleading team because you enjoy cheerleading, not because of the other girls on the team. Love what you do and have fun, and friendships probably will follow. It doesn't matter what the other girls think if you're doing something you want to do.
- Arielle, age 13, California

You can't control whether these girls will like you or not, but you can control yourself. Do your best at cheerleading, and be friendly to your teammates. You're in control of you!
- Emily, age 14, Delaware

When you walk into your first practice, imagine that you've been on this team for a long time and that it's something you're completely comfortable with. This will give you a boost of self-confidence.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, West Virginia

I didn't know anyone when I started a new dance class. Just like you, I was imagining the worst. At my first class, I just focused on being nice and friendly. I walked in with a smile on my face and made some jokes during breaks with the other girls. Soon we were all laughing and having fun. Chances are, if you are kind to these girls, you won't have a problem making friends.
- Abby, age 10, Kentucky

How can I stop people from teasing me about my hair color?
I get straight A's, people always ask for my help in school, and I happen to have blonde hair. I don't really think about my hair color until somebody says that I'm not smart because I have blonde hair. They say things such as, "I'd tell you a joke, but you probably wouldn't get it because you're blonde." That kind of teasing is mean, but it's also really unfair to me. I'm sick of this stereotype. What should I do?

Tell people, "I may be blonde, but I'm smart. Who told you that hair color determines the intelligence of a person?"
- Lydia, age 13, Ohio

These bullies have one main goal—they want to see a reaction from you. If they tease you for being blonde and you don't say anything, they might realize that the comments don't bother you. Good luck!
- Georgia, age 12, Hawaii

When people laugh at you, sometimes the best thing to do is to laugh with them. You could say something such as, "Wow! I didn't know that my hair color affected my brain. You learn something new every day!"
- Arielle, age 13, Texas

The next time someone calls you unintelligent for having blonde hair, say, "Actually, what's not very intelligent is believing a stereotype like that." That might make them stop.
- Caiti, age 11, Illinois

Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, feel sorry for the kids who believe this stereotype, because they are missing out on being friends with a smart blonde like you!
- Marley, age 12, Tennessee

Hair color has nothing to do with how smart you are. Remember the saying, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Stay positive and try to not let this problem affect your grades. Keep up those A's!
- Irena, age 10, Oregon

I have blonde hair, and I also happen to be in the gifted group in my class. I've been teased for my hair color, too. A response that I like is, "If you had blonde hair, how would you like it if I teased you?" That might get the person to think about what she's saying.
- Emily, age 8, Maryland

Every person usually faces some form of stereotyping at some point in her life. If someone insults you because of your hair color, stay calm and point out that intelligence isn't based on how you look but on how hard you work.
- Irina, age 12, Massachusetts

Ignore these bullies' taunts. You are who you are, and what you look like on the outside doesn't match what's on the inside. Try your best to stay positive, and if you need more advice, talk to a parent or another trusted adult.
- Abigail, age 11, Texas

Respond to these bullies with, "My hair color doesn't define me as a person, and I'd appreciate it if you'd stop saying that." Standing up for yourself is a great way to feel more confident.
- Emma, age 12, Massachusetts

If you don't sink to a bully's level and tease her back, then you're automatically smarter than she is. Try your best not to respond with a rude comment.
- Marie, age 13, Virginia

The next time someone bullies you about your blonde hair, just say, "You know, not only are stereotypes untrue, but they're also mean. Please stop."
- Emily, age 11, New York

I can relate to what you're talking about. I cover my head with a scarf as a symbol of my religion, and many people have talked about me behind my back. When someone teases you in a stereotypical way, just say, "I can't wait to prove you wrong," and walk away.
- An American Girl fan, age 12, Virginia

If someone is teasing you about your blonde hair, just say, "Thanks! I love your hair, too," and then go about your business. The bully probably won't know how to respond.
- Vicky, age 9, Ohio

Don't let these kids know that the teasing is hurting you. Instead, keep your head held high and focus on what you're good at: getting awesome grades!
- Mackenzie, age 12, Ohio

People have teased me about my blonde hair for most of my life. My advice to you is this: don't tolerate it. If someone makes fun of your hair color, firmly say that you don't appreciate her comments. And always remember to believe in yourself. Know in your heart that you are smart, and even though it's unfortunate that stereotypes exist, you will always be an intelligent, strong, and beautiful person.
- Annabeth, age 11, New York

I'm a picky eater, but how can I avoid being rude?
I'm a very picky eater. When I go to dinner at family members' or friends' houses, I end up disliking almost everything on my plate. I try to eat the food to be polite, but I usually end up pushing it around. Even though I don't want to be rude, I don't want to eat the food either. What can I do? Can I avoid hurting the cook's feelings?

Instead of pushing food around, just take smaller helpings of food. Taste them, and if you like them, ask if you can take some more. There's nothing wrong with trying new foods.
- Tiffany, age 11, Michigan

Give each new food a chance. Don't take a bite and decide immediately that you don't like it. I used to hate beets, but I gave them another chance and now I love them.
- Charlie, age 9, Ohio

Eat at least a couple of bites of each food on your plate, and make sure to say thank you when you're done. You don't have to like everything you eat, but always thank the cook.
- Keisha, age 12, West Virginia

Try to focus on the foods that you do like. For example, if the cook asks why you haven't eaten much of your salad, you could say, "I filled up on the mashed potatoes. They're awesome!"
- An American Girl fan, age 13, Connecticut

Before you go to someone's house, have a little snack. That way, if you take only a few bites of your meal, you won't be hungry. Just be sure not to eat a big snack!
- Mia, age 10, Minnesota

I decided to trick myself into trying new foods. Instead of saying, "I'm a picky eater," I started saying, "I'll eat anything!" I made myself believe it, and now I really do eat anything.
- Brooke, age 12, Texas

When you go to someone's house for dinner, think of it as an opportunity to try new and different foods. I used to be a picky eater, so I decided to push myself to try foods outside my comfort zone. Now I'm a lot more open to trying new foods.
- Julia, age 11, Ohio

Sometimes people dislike foods because they choose to dislike them. Instead of focusing on what you don't like about a certain food, focus on what you do like about it. This works for me.
- Jill, age 12, California

Even if you don't love something, think of something good you can say about it. Focus on the thing you like the most about it. You could say, "The pasta is good! What kind of cheese did you put on it?" This is one way to let the cook know that you appreciate the meal he or she made.
- Maggie, age 10, Alaska

Maybe you could ask for small portions. Then, when you go home, you could have something else to eat.
- Hava, age 12, Arizona

My mom has a good tip for picky eaters. She says that if you're not enjoying a meal, be sociable and get into the conversation. If you keep talking, the people at the table might not notice what's still on your plate.
- Katie, age 9, Georgia

Most people have a favorite dish, and sometimes a recipe can have a special meaning for the cook. Even if you're not an adventurous eater, you can appreciate the effort put into preparing a meal. For example, I don't like zucchini, but my friend's parents often serve a zucchini dish that's been handed down for generations. Each time they serve it, they love to tell the story of how their great-grandparents passed down the recipe. Showing interest in the food that's been made is a great way to show you care.
- Madalina, age 12, Michigan

A lot of kids tend to be picky eaters. Sometimes it can be hard to eat all the things on your plate, especially if those foods aren't your favorites or they look strange or different to you. Here's one way to be polite to the cook. Pick a food you enjoyed from the meal and compliment it. You could say, "That green-bean casserole was delicious. Do you think you could give my mom the recipe?" I hope this helps!
- Abigail, age 13, South Carolina

How can I feel better about not making my school's choir?
I recently auditioned for my school's choir. As I walked into the audition, I felt confident and held my head high. I was sure that I would make it—but I didn't! Now I can't seem to get over it, and on top of it, I feel jealous of the kids who got in. How can I feel good about my talents and myself again?

I'm sure you will have other chances to join a choir. You can try out again next year, or you can become a member of a choir at your church or in your community. Don't let this little setback get in the way of doing what you love.
- Emma, age 12, Pennsylvania

Try not to feel jealous of the kids who made the choir. Just because they're in the choir and you aren't doesn't make them better people than you. If you cheer on your friends in the choir and work on your own singing, you can improve your chances of getting into the choir next time.
- Candace, age 13, New Hampshire

You should feel proud of yourself that you had the confidence to try out. Some people are too afraid to sing in front of anyone, so the fact that you auditioned shows that you have a lot of courage.
- Shameecka, age 10, Georgia

There might be a reason why you didn't make it into the choir this year. Right now it might not make sense, but it could become clear later on. Try joining another school group or club—I bet your talents are needed elsewhere.
- Bethany, age 12, Florida

You have to remind yourself that the result of an audition doesn't define your identity or make people like you any less. As long as you tried your very best, you are not a failure—not even close!
- Clara, age 13, Pennsylvania

Remember, your family and friends love you for who you are. They don't think less of you because you didn't get into the choir. They're proud that you tried, and that's all that matters.
- Fia, age 12, Delaware

Even though you love to sing, check out other hobbies or activities, too. You could join your school's basketball team, become a member of a book club, or even start a fun club with friends. Remember, in your life, you're not going to make it into every group or be perfect at every audition—and that's OK.
- Eva, age 9, Michigan

Talk to your choir director. Ask if there's anything you can do to improve your singing and better your chances for making it into the choir next year.
- Sadie, age 10, Massachusetts

I love to sing, so I auditioned for a musical. I really wanted a part, but I didn't get one. When my family and I went to watch the performance, I realized how many lines I would have had to memorize. I ended up being glad that I got to spend the summer playing with my friends instead of practicing lines. Try to look on the bright side—maybe this will turn out for the best.
- Rachel, age 9, Missouri

If singing is fun for you, then don't let getting turned down for the choir stop you. Sing with your friends, sing along with a popular song, and sing in the shower. Keep singing because it makes you happy.
- Chloe, age 11, Alabama

In history class, I've learned about many heroic people who fell short of a goal but tried again and wound up on top. Remind yourself to keep trying, and use the disappointment to motivate yourself to try even harder.
- Rose, age 13, Pennsylvania

All I can say is stay confident and wait for another chance to join the choir. If another chance doesn't come around, you might find another thing that you enjoy just as much.
- Claire, age 11, California

Think of some great things about yourself. Maybe you're an awesome athlete or an expert guitar player. Remind yourself of one good thing about yourself every morning. Just because you didn't pass this test with flying colors doesn't mean you won't succeed at other things. You rock!
- Mckenna, age 10, Ohio

Don't be hard on yourself. Think about other kids who also didn't make it into the choir. Some of them could feel just as bad as you do. Sometimes when we don't get what we want, it helps us become stronger and do better next time.
- Reilly, age 11, Minnesota

As someone who for half of my life has been a classically trained dancer, I've frequently been in and out of auditions and competitions. Sometimes I place high in competitions, and sometimes I don't place at all. Understand that in life, you'll get a "No, sorry," more often than a "Yes, you're in!" Just because you didn't make the choir doesn't mean you aren't great at what you love. Keep your head held high, because there's always next year. While you wait, practice as much as possible, because hard work pays off.
- Madi, age 12, New Jersey

How can I stop feeling self-conscious about my scar?
I was in a bike accident a couple of months ago and had to get stitches on my arm, and now I have a big scar. I'm really self-conscious about it, and I feel embarrassed whenever anyone asks about it. How can I feel better about my scar?

My friend has a scar on her arm, too, and it looks a little like a caterpillar. Whenever someone asks her about it, she says, "It's my pet caterpillar!" She is willing to joke around about it, and I admire that. See if you can find a way to laugh about yours. If you act as if your scar is no big deal, other people probably won't think it's a big deal either.
- Allison, age 13, Kansas

Don't hide your scar. It's not something to feel ashamed about. If you try to hide it, it might become more obvious than just letting it show. If you forget about your scar and don't glance at it in front of people, they'll probably forget about it, too.
- Madi, age 11, Georgia

Your scar may not be as noticeable as you think. Don't say to your friends, "I'm so embarrassed about this huge scar!" or ask, "Is this noticeable?" That'll just draw more attention to it.
- Maria, age 12, Texas

Remember, when people ask about your scar, they probably aren't trying to make you feel uncomfortable. More likely, they're just concerned and thinking about you.
- Ingrid, age 9, Ohio

Remember that you are beautiful and that your friends and family love just as much, with or without a scar.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Maryland

I have a scar above my eye. I used to worry that people would notice it all the time, but now that I've gotten used to it, I actually don't want it to go away. It's a part of who I am.
- Anna, age 8, Texas

Here's what I think about scars: sometimes they show that you're a person who doesn't just sit around—you're out living your life. So when people ask about your scar, you should be proud that you were riding your bike and doing something you enjoy.
- Olivia, age 12, New York

When people ask you about your scar, simply say, "This scar reminds me of all the wonderful (and not-so-wonderful) times I've ridden my bike." It'll lighten the mood. Your scar makes you unique, and that's a good thing.
- Emily, age 13, Delaware

A lot of people have scars, so it's OK that you have one. If someone asks you what happened, keep it simple and just say, "Oh, I got in a little accident," and change the subject. If the person pushes you to talk about your scar, kindly say that you'd rather not talk about it.
- Madison, age 11, Texas

Don't worry—your scar is part of what makes you you. If people ask about it, think of it as an opportunity to share a time when you were brave. They'll probably admire you for it.
- Ariana, age 10, Arizona

Your scar represents a part of your story, so try to embrace it. Be proud of yourself for being strong and enduring a scary event in your life. If anything, you can see your scar as a reminder to be careful in the future.
- Hannah, age 9, Arkansas

You could always take the goofy approach with your response about your scar. You could say, "I got this when I was fighting an angry unicorn!" or "Someone thought I smelled like bacon and tried to nibble me."
- Emily, age 11, Georgia

Think of your scar as your badge of courage. I was in and out of hospitals and emergency rooms several times this summer, so I kept my hospital bracelets to remind me how brave I had to be. I didn't feel very good, but I was able to get through it, just like you. Now you can be proud of your emblem of bravery!
- Brooke, age 12, Texas

I'M SCARED
How can I control my jitters when I read my favorite book series?
There's a series of books I love to read. But the books give me nightmares! Sometimes the stories feel so real that I experience the scary moments right along with the characters. I want to keep reading these books, but I don't want to be a ball of nerves. What can I do?

Every couple of minutes, put the book down and think to yourself, This book is not real. It was written by a person who made everything up. Then resume reading. If you remind yourself these things are not actually happening to you, you can enjoy reading again.
- Caitlin, age 12, Illinois

After you read a portion of the scary book, read a lighthearted or calming book. It might help put your mind at ease.
- Melanie, age 11, California

If the books scare you too much, decide that you're not ready for this series until you're a little older. You can put them away for now or you can try to remind yourself that these are just stories to entertain readers.
- Shameecka, age 10, Georgia

Whenever you finish a chapter, imagine a non-scary ending. Make it as happy as you want to, and maybe you won't feel as scared.
- Kiera, age 13, Hawaii

When I'm afraid of something, I like to think about happy memories, such as scoring the winning goal in a soccer tournament or singing a solo in a school program. Whenever you feel those jitters, try your best to think positive thoughts.
- Sarah, age 11, Mississippi

If the books continue to give you nightmares but you still want to read them, why not read them with a parent? One of you can read out loud, and when you get to a part that scares you, tell your mom or dad. He or she could help you understand the part better so that you won't feel as scared or get nightmares.
- Ariel, age 10, Ohio

It may be hard, but if something you read upsets you, the best thing to do is to put the book down. If you keep reading, you might find it more difficult to do things you used to do all of the time, such as going down to the basement or walking into a dark room. Putting the book away might be hard, but you'll be thankful for the peace of mind.
- Zoe, age 9, Missouri

Just remember that these stories come from an author's imagination. If you start getting scared when you're reading, remind yourself that it's only fiction.
- Mollie, age 13, Texas

If your nerves get to be too much, take a break from reading. You might need some time to relax. Taking deep breaths and calming yourself down might be the cure for those creepy feelings.
- Aylin, age 10, Connecticut

Try to read these books only in the morning or afternoon. If you read them close to bedtime, there's more of a chance that you'll have nightmares.
- Sabrina, age 11, Indiana

When a story feels real, that's the sign of a good book! Try to stick with this series and remind yourself that the events in the books aren't actually taking place in real life.
- Paige, age 12, Washington

If the books are too scary for you, it might help to take a breather from them. Don't read the books for a few months, and then try them again. If they're still too scary, talk it over with a friend or trusted adult.
- Jessica, age 13, Michigan

Ask a librarian to recommend another series of books similar to the ones you've been reading that are a little less scary. Who knows? You might find a new favorite series.
- Calley, age 12, North Carolina

I often experience anxiety, and many books have kept me up at night, too. If I feel really scared, I skip ahead to the end to make sure that everything turns out all right. It might seem as if knowing the outcome would spoil the book, but it prevents hours of worrying for me. And when I'm less nervous, I can focus on enjoying on the book instead.
- Cat, age 13, Florida

I'm scared about moving to a new place—is there anything I can do to feel better?
I just found out that I'm moving halfway across the country. It's the first time I've ever moved, and I'm scared. I'm sad that I might not see my best friends again. How am I going to start a whole new life with a whole new neighborhood and a whole new school? What can I do to feel better about moving?

Moving can be hard, so try to make it a little easier by capturing memories. Before you go, snap pictures of your home, friends, and favorite spots. As you settle into your new home and neighborhood, take some more pictures. Hang all of the pictures on your bedroom wall, and you'll have a mix of old and new memories.
- Katherine, age 13, Illinois

Ask a parent if you can video chat with your old pals. That way, you can always see them even though you're apart.
- Jessica, age 12, Michigan

Before you leave, ask your friends to come over to make friendship bracelets. They'll have something to remember you by, and you will, too.
- Anitha, age 9, Wisconsin

Start keeping a journal. Write down your feelings about moving, and keep writing in the journal after you've moved. Use it to jot down things you like about your new town, and talk about friends you've made. It'll help to get everything―good and bad―down on paper.
- Olivia, age 12, New York

Remember, you're not starting a new life—you're just continuing your life somewhere else. Think of moving as an opportunity to grow, make new friends, and try new things.
- Julia, age 11, Massachusetts

Learn about the place you're moving to. Research amusement parks, museums, and other activities that you and your family can do there. Who knows? Maybe you'll start looking forward to moving!
- Mackenzie, age 13, North Carolina

If you're nervous about making new friends after you move, think back to how you met the friends you have now. Use those same icebreakers to start some new friendships.
- Angeline, age 12, China

Talk to your parents about your worries. They can share information with you about the move and your new home.
- Alyssa, age 9, Texas

Whatever you do, keep being yourself. In your new school or neighborhood, don't try to be someone you're not just to fit in. You'll find new friends by just being who you are.
- Meg, age 12, Rhode Island

The scariest thing about moving is the anxiety. As soon as you get to your new home, you might wonder why you ever were scared in the first place.
- Katie, age 10, New Jersey

Invite all your friends over together for a sleepover before you leave. Get a scrapbook with blank pages. Ask each girl to write something on a page. She can write a joke or story, draw a picture, or add a photo. When you move, take this book with you and look at it whenever you miss your pals.
- Julia, age 13, Maryland

Before you move, make sure you have your friends' phone numbers and e-mail addresses. That way, you can call or write them to stay in touch.
- Gianna, age 11, Iowa

Think of moving as a great adventure. You can pretend you're a character who's moving in a book or movie. Or you can get creative and brainstorm how you're going to decorate your new room. This could be a fun, exciting time in your life.
- Taylor, age 12, Minnesota

Don't isolate yourself from other kids because you miss your old friends—you might miss out on some great friendships.
- Zoe, age 9, Missouri

My dad is in the military, so we have to move a lot. The first time I moved, I was nervous, too. The thing that helped me most was simply looking on the bright side. I would've missed out on a lot of things if I hadn't moved. Does your new home have a pretty view? Do you live close to a pool? Is there a sport in your community or school that you've always wanted to try? Think positively, and moving will feel a lot better.
- Emma, age 13, California

I'm nervous to try new gymnastics moves—how can I get over my fear of failing?
Gymnastics is one of my favorite things to do. But every time I try a new move, I choke. I'm afraid that I'll do it wrong or look clumsy in front of my friends. I want to improve as a gymnast, but my nervousness is holding me back. How can I get over my fear of failing?

When you try a new move, imagine that no one is watching you. You might be surprised by how well you do! That trick helps me a lot in figure skating, and it could help you in gymnastics, too.
- Heather, age 12, Georgia

Think of it this way—this is probably the first time your friends are learning the move, too, so they might be just as nervous as you. You're probably not alone in your jitters!
- Sarah, age 11, Tennessee

Talk to your gymnastics coach. Tell her about your nervousness, and ask if she can give you extra help for difficult moves.
- Maria, age 10, Illinois

Before you try a move, think about something that makes you happy, such as your puppy giving you a kiss or going for a walk in a pretty park. Thinking about something cheerful might calm your nerves.
- Annie, age 9, Tennessee

You've already said the solution: "Gymnastics is one of my favorite things to do." If you love to do it, who cares what your friends think? During practice, focus on yourself. There will be plenty of time for friends outside of gymnastics.
- Bria, age 11, Wisconsin

If you do make a mistake, crack a joke. Say, "Don't try this at home," or, "Wow, I'm so graceful!" Being able to laugh at yourself is a great way to show off your confidence.
- Alex, age 12, New York

Hardly anyone does something perfectly on her first try. Don't put so much pressure on yourself, and allow yourself to make mistakes. That's the best way to learn how to do something!
- Tessa, age 10, Florida

Stand still for a second before trying a move. Take a deep breath and imagine yourself doing the flip and landing it perfectly before a cheering crowd. Then, go for it! Positive thinking can have a big impact on how well you perform.
- Alexis, age 11, Ohio

I'm in gymnastics, and I used to be really scared to try new moves. My friend told me to imagine that I was a famous gymnast. I ended up doing a lot better! I hope this tip will help you, too.
- Selena, age 12, Washington

Maybe you should try out your moves outside of gymnastics practice. Perform a couple of moves in front of family, friends, or even your stuffed animals. By the time you get to practice, you might be feeling a lot more comfortable. Just be sure to try the moves in an area that's open and safe.
- Rachel, age 11, Wisconsin

Don't doubt your abilities. If you think I'm going to fail before doing a backflip, you have a bigger chance of doing badly. If you think I can do this, then you will probably do better.
- Rory, age 12, Michigan

Ask a gymnastics pal to give you some pointers. Is your leg in the wrong position? Are you not putting your arms above your head correctly? Believe it or not, it might be just one thing (not a million things) that's preventing you from performing a perfect move!
- Sonya, age 11, Wisconsin

I'll let you in on a secret—to get better at something, you have to make mistakes. It's the only way you'll learn. Just be free and let go of your fear of failure.
- Kamiya, age 12, Washington

When I have to give a big speech or perform in a recital, I imagine that the whole audience is standing up and cheering for me. It really boosts my confidence!
- Heaven, age 11, Texas

Don't focus on what you can't do—focus on what you can do. You might discover that you can do more than you think you can, which could give you a nice big boost of confidence. As long as you practice and keep a smile on your face, you'll do great!
- Leah, age 13, New Jersey

I recently had a piano recital. I was really scared and I messed up a few times. After watching the whole recital on video, I realized that everyone messed up— even my piano teacher! Everyone makes mistakes. No one's perfect, so just be yourself and give it your best.
- Paige, age 12, Utah

How do I overcome my presentation jitters?
I have a big presentation coming up for school, and I'm so nervous. Every time I give a speech in front of my class, my hands shake, my face turns red, and I stutter. Is there anything I can do to calm my jitters during my presentation?

My mom teaches a speech class. She says that right before a speech, it's important to take a moment to relax. Take a deep breath and picture something that makes you feel good, such as a sunny beach. If you try to relax before your presentation, you might not be so nervous.
- Bianca, age 9, Washington

When you give your speech, pretend that you are a news anchor. Imagine that you've had years of experience and you're a natural in front of a camera. A confident mindset might reduce your jitters.
- Elena, age 12, North Carolina

If you have a pet, practice your presentation in front of her. Your furry friend won't laugh or criticize your speech.
- Norma, age 11, Illinois

Remember, you're not the only one who has to give a presentation—I bet lots of your classmates are just as nervous as you are!
- Gabriella, age 12, Canada

The night before your speech, do something that makes you feel calm and happy, such as watching a movie or playing with a friend.
- Allie, age 13, West Virginia

Think of a reward to give yourself when you're done with your presentation, such as a trip to an ice cream shop or buying a new bracelet. Maybe you'll end up focusing on your reward instead of your jitters!
- Caitlyn, age 11, Canada

Don't focus on the audience—focus on your speech. It's a simple tip that has helped me through lots of presentations.
- Madison, age 12, Texas

If you freeze up mid-presentation, picture your classmates wearing silly outfits, such as tutus and clown clothes. Imagining this funny scene might help you loosen up and smile.
- Leah, age 13, New Jersey

I have a box at home that I call my "lucky charm box." It's filled with pennies, rocks, and beads, and whenever I know I'll be doing something nerve-wracking, I put one of those items in my pocket. Having a charm helps me feel a lot less nervous during speeches.
- Janie, age 10, Virginia

If it's all right with your teacher, roll a stress ball around in your hands until it's your turn. Keeping your hands busy could help them to not shake during your presentation.
- Elise, age 12, Virginia

I used to get freaked out about speaking in front of crowds. Then I realized that the easiest way to get over it is to focus on one person, such as someone you know, and to act as if you're speaking to just that person. This trick worked for me, and now I'm the captain of my school's debate team!
- Isabella, age 13, California

If you stumble over your words, pause and have a phrase ready to say, such as, "Sorry—my words are trying to run away!" It'll give you and the audience something to giggle about, and then you can move on with your speech.
- Faith, age 10, Georgia

When I practice for presentations, I imagine that I'm giving my speech in front of millions of people. That way, when I do the real speech in front of just 20 people, I feel a lot more relaxed.
- Isabella, age 12, Peru

If your teacher asks if someone would like to go first, raise your hand! I know that doesn't sound like a good idea, but this actually will help you. You won't have to sit and wait while your nervousness builds, and you won't be comparing yourself to your classmates, either. It's good to just get it over with.
- Ally, age 13, Illinois

Practice talking to your stuffed animals. This might sound silly, but if you practice with your stuffed animals until you're confident, you might be better prepared to talk in front of your class. If you still feel nervous, pretend that you're just talking to Fluffy Bunny and Sammy the Snake.
- Beth, age 12, California

The best thing you can do is stand up tall, take a deep breath, and start talking. Don't let anything distract you, and have confidence in yourself. Hope this helps!
- Tessa, age 10, Florida

How can I go to sleepovers without my stuffed animal?
I'm scared to go to sleepovers. It's not because I feel homesick or nervous—it's because I still sleep with a stuffed animal. I just can't sleep without him! I'm afraid that my friends will laugh at me, but I'm missing out on all the sleepover fun. What should I do?

You shouldn't be scared to bring your stuffed animal. Lots of girls have stuffed animals, blankets, or something else to cuddle with at night. If these girls are your real friends, they won't make fun of you.
- Corinne, age 12, Virginia

If you feel embarrassed to have your stuffed animal at a sleepover, roll him up in your sleeping bag. When you go to sleep, pull out your fuzzy friend.
- Ellery, age 10, Minnesota

If someone says something about your stuffed animal, just say, "What's the big deal?" and move on. Try to relax and enjoy the party!
- Isabelle, age 12, California

Your friends might not laugh. I sleep with a stuffed animal, and I've never been teased about it. One time at camp, we rode our horses to a campsite to spend a night under the stars. Everyone (even the counselors) brought stuffed animals!
- Genny, age 13, Pennsylvania

You should take your stuffed animal to a slumber party. Who cares if you still sleep with a stuffed animal? He makes you feel comfortable and happy, and that's all that matters.
- Haley, age 12, Georgia

Throw a slumber party at your house, and tell each girl to bring her favorite stuffed animal. That way, you won't be the only one with a fuzzy friend!
- Olivia, age 10, New Jersey

When you go to a sleepover, walk in with your stuffed animal and your head held high. If a girl says something unkind, say, "So what if I have a stuffed animal? He's awesome! And I'm sure you have one at home."
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Illinois

Instead of taking your stuffed animal to a sleepover full of girls, start small. Invite one of your closest friends to your house to spend the night, where you feel more comfortable sleeping with a stuffed animal. Then you can work your way up to a sleepover with more friends.
- An American Girl fan, age 12, Pennsylvania

When you go to a sleepover, you should be able to be yourself around your friends. If you think that these girls will be mean to you, maybe you shouldn't spend the night.
- Anna, age 12, Missouri

If these girls tease you about your stuffed animal, just smile and explain why he is special to you. That might help them understand.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Massachusetts

If you end up feeling too embarrassed to bring your stuffed animal, try to cuddle with something else, such as a pillow or a thick blanket.
- Alyssa, age 12, Wisconsin

When I go to sleepovers, it's actually cool to bring stuffed animals. We match our stuffed animals to our sleeping bags and pajamas, and we all look really cute!
- Zoe, age 11, North Carolina

Make a joke out of it. If someone teases you, you could say something such as, "Yep! Pete and I are glued together."
- An American Girl fan, age 12, California

This might be a good friendship test. If your friends are mean to you about your stuffed animal, it could be time to rethink those friendships. If these girls don't make a big deal out of it, they're probably true friends.
- Bianca, age 9, Washington

I have a blanket with ducks on it that I can't sleep without. Last year when I went to camp, I brought my blanket with me. I just didn't bring it up as a topic of conversation. It worked for me!
- An American Girl fan, age 12, Utah

Bring your stuffed animal, and even if someone does say something, respond kindly and calmly. Chances are, if you don't bring attention to your stuffed animal, your friends might not either.
- Amanda, age 12, California

I'm 12, and I still sleep with a little stuffed dog. I used to worry that my friends would laugh at me. Then one day, I went to a sleepover and found out I was wrong. I wasn't the only one who had brought a bedtime buddy. It made me feel a whole lot better, and I realized that no matter how old I get, I'm never too old to be myself.
- Emily, age 12, New Jersey

How can I overcome my shyness in dance class?
My mom wants me to join a dance class. The problem is that I'm very shy and I don't know anyone in the class. I like dancing alone in my room, but I'm nervous to dance in front of girls I don't know. How can I overcome my shyness and have fun at dance class?

Don't worry about what the other girls might think of you. If you love to dance, then dance. This class also might be a great way to meet girls who have the same interest as you. Remember, other girls in the class could be feeling just as shy as you.
- Alicia, age 12, Oregon

Invite your friends to your house to have a dance party. Turn on some upbeat music and have fun showing off your moves. When you go to dance class, you might feel a lot more relaxed.
- Nicole, age 10, California

If you enjoy dancing, it doesn't matter what others think. Don't ruin your dance class just because you're nervous. If you love to dance, you can overcome your shyness and have fun.
- Kaya, age 11, Texas

Imagine that you are having a private dance lesson—no one is there except you and the teacher.
- Katie, age 9, New Jersey

I used to be shy, too, but then I realized how much dance meant to me. When I dance, I feel amazing. Just remember how dance makes you feel, and let those feelings replace your shyness.
- Megan, age 11, Massachusetts

When you dance, try to not think about what the other girls are doing. Remember, they're probably too busy performing their own moves to notice what you are doing. When you dance, just be yourself.
- Katherine, age 13, Florida

Face your fears and have fun in your class. After all, everyone else will be doing the same thing as you!
- Janey, age 8, Maryland

My dad says that if you're not excited about doing something, at least put in a little effort. That way, you can decide if you truly like the class or not. If you end up disliking this dance class, at least you tried, and if you want to, you can move on to something else.
- Abby, age 12, Utah

If you like to dance, you might be majorly missing out on something you'll enjoy. As soon as you start dancing, all of your nervousness could just melt away.
- Hannah, age 13, Oregon

Encourage the other girls in your class. Be kind, say, "Great job," or clap. If the girls see that you are a nice person, you might make new friends in no time.
- Landry, age 10, Germany

Dance is about having fun and expressing yourself. Don't worry about what the other girls might think or say about you. Don't try to be perfect. Just keep smiling and enjoy your dance class.
- Sam, age 12, New Hampshire

Ask your dance teacher if she could introduce you to the girls in the class or show you around the studio. Becoming more familiar with your surroundings might help you to feel less shy.
- Karlee, age 11, Kentucky

I always feel nervous when I start a new class, but I end up having a lot of fun. Even though you're shy, joining a dance class could actually help you to be braver.
- Tessa, age 10, Florida

At your first dance class, make it a goal to introduce yourself to one other girl. Break the ice by asking, "How long have you been dancing?" or saying "That was a great move!" At the next class, try to talk to a couple more girls. As you get to know more people, you might feel less shy.
- Faith, age 12, Pennsylvania

Remember that none of the girls in the class is a perfect dancer. That's why you're in the class—to learn more about dancing. I think you might really enjoy it once you get started!
- Amy, age 11, Georgia

Your mom is probably encouraging you to join this dance class because she loves you and wants you to do something fun. Be glad that she is giving you this opportunity. When you feel nervous in your class, be grateful for a mom who cares about you and be glad that you get the chance to be in the class.
- Sunshine, age 10, California

I joined the dance team at school, and I was nervous that I wouldn't dance as well as the other girls. When we started dancing, I looked around and noticed that everyone's dancing ability was pretty equal. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. If you practice, you'll be doing your best.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Texas

Listen to the dance instructor and try your hardest. Although you might not see it this way, dance class could actually help you to overcome your shyness and make new friends, too. I joined a club a few months ago, and now I'm not nearly as shy as I used to be.
- Catherine, age 13, Florida

MORE ADVICE FROM YOU
How can I let others know I'm not just the smart kid?
I'm good at school. Kids in my class think of me only as "the smart kid." But I'm not just smart—I'm a lot of other things, too. How do I let them know that?

It sounds to me as if you're being labeled. People only know that you're really good at one thing—in your case, it's school. So it's hard for them to see that you're good at anything else. Here's an idea: If you're athletic, bring some pictures of your games to school. If you're crafty, bring a hat you just knitted or a blanket you made. It might help to show people that you're more than just smart and that you have personality. Remember that being smart isn't a bad thing. It's part of who you are! Stay true to yourself.
- Claire, age 12, Virginia

When someone says that you're "the smart kid," say thank you! Try to see it as the person giving you a compliment. Don't be scared to add something else, such as, "You know, I also enjoy writing," or whatever you want to say. Maybe someone will relate and you'll have something to talk about.
- Shiana, age 13, Utah

Show people—don't tell them. Notice what others are doing and play what they're playing for a while. Then maybe they will realize that you can do more than schoolwork!
- Addy, age 9, Kentucky

I'm pretty smart, too, and I work to stand out in other ways. I like telling jokes, so I do that. I also give advice and try to help friends with problems. What other qualities do you have besides being smart? Talk about the other stuff you like, too. I think people will find out that you're a cool, interesting girl who is other things in addition to being smart. Good luck!
- Eliana, age 11, Pennsylvania

Just try to be yourself, and people will realize you are more than smart. But you know what? Be proud of being the smart one! It's great.
- Krupa, age 10, Pennsylvania

If you are talented at dance, join the dance club. If you like soccer, try out for the team. Just do the things you like!
- Annie, age 10, California

Invite your school friends to come over and hang out. When people see who you are outside of school, they'll see past that "smart kid" label.
- Anneliese, age 10, Michigan

Maybe you could tie some of your other qualities into your school smarts. Use your best creativity on projects, or show off your athletics in gym class. This will help your classmates see that you're not just one thing.
- Willa, age 9, Oklahoma

When you are talking with people, you could ask them about their hobbies and then tell them about some of yours.
- Natalie, age 11, Ohio

What about recess? Can your classmates see your talents there? Show them that you're good at other things, too. If your other talents aren't active, then maybe bring along your "talent" to school and get it out at recess.
- Annie, age 9, Texas

Kids used to think of me that way. They only came to my desk when they needed help with homework. I sometimes felt left out of their conversations. But one day I just walked up and asked a girl if she wanted to hang out. I figured that if people got to know me better, they would see all my other qualities. It worked!
- Maddie, age 10, Ohio

You could tell your friends what's bothering you. They might be able to spread the word that you're good at lots of things.
- Sammi, age 11, Michigan

I had a similar problem. Nobody knew about anything else I was good at, besides school. They just thought of me as "the smart kid." To change that, I looked around the school for ways to share my other talents. I found an ad for our school's talent show, and I signed up. You could try that. If your school isn't planning a talent show, you could suggest one.
- Kyleigh, age 10, Florida

When people call you "the smart kid," they might be complimenting you for doing a good job at school. But they also could be bullying you. Next time people call you "the smart kid," ask them what they mean. If it turns out to be bullying, handle it like you would other kinds of bullying.
- Alix, age 12, California

Hang out with your friends, and even make some new ones. When people know you better, they can start thinking of you as the girl who's a great friend.
- Chloe, age 9, Colorado

Don't EVER try to bring down your grades so that people won't think of you as smart anymore. Always do your best. But you can also make sure that you don't only talk about school—you should also talk about your other interests, too.
- Lilac, age 14, Michigan

Don't worry about what the other kids think about you. Your friends know who you are, and that's what matters.
- Destiny, age 13, Hawaii

How can I deal with the kids on my bus?
The kids who ride my bus are hard to be around. They're loud and mean, and they say bad things that upset me. They're not bullying me directly, but being around all of that negativity can put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. I don't really have a choice for which bus I ride. How can I stop absorbing these kids' negative feelings and stay in a good mood?

Can you change seats? If these kids sit at the back of the bus, try sitting at the front of the bus and see if that helps.
- Colette, age 12, Minnesota

Some people try to block out bad things in their lives, but for me, it's different. I have talk to people about it, because even if I block them out, I still know what they are doing. Walk up to these kids when they start acting mean and say something such as, "Hey, could you stop talking like that? It's really bothering me." Depending on their attitudes, they might stop and think the next time they do it. Hope this helps!
- Biddy, age 12, Tennessee

As you get off the bus, tell the driver what is happening. The driver might be able to help. Then go see a friend or do something that you enjoy.
- Hope, age 12, New Jersey

A bunch of fifth-graders on my bus gossip and say negative things. What I do is read and focus on my schoolwork. When that isn't enough, I think about ways that I'll set a better example when I'm one of the "big kids."
- Molly, age 10, Arkansas

I can definitely relate to you on this one. There are some kids on my bus who hit little kids and say mean things to everybody. With them, it all depends on your response. If they say something like, "You're so stupid!" we just say "Yeah, I guess." They only want a reaction and usually will stop if you are calm. You can also try being as nice as possible. Keep a smile on your face, and never let your temper get the best of you. That might stop them from being really mean, and it'll keep you in a good mood, too. Good luck!
- Maya, age 10, Florida

If you hear anything bad, try to ignore it. Listening to music, talking to a friend, or reading a good book could help.
- Mckala, age 11, Washington

Reading, knitting, and meditation have calming powers. Try them!
- Lyn, age 12, California

However scared you might feel, show the bullies that you don't care. This reaction could make them uncomfortable, and they might stop.
- Jane, age 10, New York

That's what it's like for me on my bus. What I do is always sit in a window seat so that I can stare out the window and daydream. That way, I don't notice a lot of what's going on.
- Bailey, age 12, Florida

You could say something to these bullies, even if that seems scary. Say, "You know, it's really not cool to hurt people's feelings." And leave it at that.
- Sarah, age 13, Oregon

It can be very hard to not be influenced when it seems as if everyone around you is making bad choices. I am home-schooled, so I don't know if you would be allowed to do this, but maybe you can bring earbuds and listen to music. Or ask the bus driver if he or she can address the negativity. I hope this helps!
- Olivia, age 13, Kansas

Try saying, "Please don't talk that way. I would appreciate it if you'd stop. Thanks."
- Halli, age 9, Vermont

Have a nice friend sit with you. Talking to a friend could help you ignore the others.
- Billie, age 9, Massachusetts

Reading a good book is an option. Some people are better than others at blocking outside noises while they are reading, but if this works for you, I find that it is a great way to keep my mind off other things.
- Amy, age 14, Colorado

Ask your parents if they have any ideas or if they could get in touch with your school about this problem.
- Laura, age 11, Georgia

There is probably someone else on the bus who doesn't like all of the noise and rude comments, so sit with that person and have a nice conversation.
- Elle, age 12, Canada

Those kids might not know that they're hurting people's feelings. How about telling them? Try, "Hey, let's try to keep it kind here" or " That hurt my feelings. Can you stop?"
- Scarlett, age 9, Michigan

Think of their meanness as a disease that you are determined NOT to catch.
- Evelyn, age 10, Pennsylvania

I have the same problem with the people I ride home from school with. One thing I've found to help is thinking back over my day and remembering all the good things that happened so that I won't be distracted by the negativity around me. The other thing I do is talk to those kids so that they're focused on a conversation with me instead of being negative. Hope this helps!
- An American Girl fan, age 13, California

How can I focus on my goal of being an author if I'm being teased about it?
I love writing more than anything, and I want to be an author when I grow up. But there's a girl in my class who makes fun of me for this. She says writing is "boring" and "lame," and she says I'll never be an author. Her comments hurt my feelings, and it makes me want to find something else to dream about. How can I keep my goal in sight if someone puts it down?

Try not to pay attention to the things this girl is saying. She might not share your passion for writing, and that's why she doesn't understand why someone would aspire to be a writer. Don't change your dream to please other people.
- Anoushka, age 12, Illinois

If this girl says something unkind about your dream to be a writer, here's one way to respond. You could smile and say, "Thanks! What do you want to be when you grow up?" It could catch her by surprise, and she might not know how to respond.
- Annie, age 10, Texas

Keep your head up and continue to remind yourself that writing is what you want to do. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.
- Juliana, age 12, Kentucky

This girl might not be the right person to share your dreams with, especially since she's making fun of you. Talk about your writing with friends who lift you up instead of tearing you down.
- Abigail, age 11, Texas

The more this girl puts you down, the more you should write. Stay confident, and if she sees that she isn't affecting you, she might give up.
- Julia, age 10, Maryland

This girl's opinion isn't important. What is important is that YOU love to write. Don't let one rude person's comments get you down.
- Clarissa, age 8, Nevada

Just because someone says writing is boring and lame doesn't make it true. Ignore this girl's comments and move forward with your dream.
- Amanda, age 10, Michigan

This girl isn't the one who will choose your destiny. You are the only one who can do that.
- Abby, age 13, Tennessee

Spend as much time as you can with people who encourage you and help you to believe in your dreams.
- Alexandria, age 11, Wisconsin

Respond to this girl's criticism by saying, "What's boring to you is fun for me. I enjoy writing, so I'm going to stick with it."
- Elizabeth, age 8, South Carolina

Don't push away your dream of becoming an author. If you back down and throw away your goals, you're letting this girl win.
- Jessica, age 10, Connecticut

Think of it this way: When you grow up, people might criticize your writing then, too. View this as your training to withstand negative comments you may receive in the future.
- An American Girl fan, age 13, California

Don't give up. I also have a dream to be an author someday. To me, writing is everything and it makes me feel alive. Some of my friends used to make fun of me for wanting to publish my own books. Every time someone put down my dream, I ignored the comments and wrote about it. That helped me to forget the critics and focus on my goals. Never stop writing!
- Kamin, age 12, Pennsylvania

How can I improve my organization skills?
I am not great at keeping things organized. My desk is usually a mess, and I lose things all the time. Next year I'm starting middle school, so I really want to work on my organization skills. Does anyone have any organization tips to share? I could use some help!

Here's a simple way to stay organized: When you're finished with something, put it away. Your constant clutter just might disappear.
- Bri, age 12, Indiana

I have a tendency to shove my things into a backpack, into my locker, or under my bed. Since I know this about myself, I've made it a habit that every Friday, I spend a few minutes cleaning and organizing spots I've cluttered throughout the week. It also helps me to separate important items from the unimportant ones.
- Susan, age 13, Finland

First, start fresh and empty everything out from your desk. Sort things into piles, and get rid of anything you don't need. Then find a place for each item that's left, and stick to putting it there. Don't worry―Not every girl is neat all the time.
- Grette, age 11, Minnesota

Don't try to change your habits all at once. Instead, make it a goal to clean up and improve areas one at a time. For example, one day you could organize your books, and the next day you could label folders for school. That way, you might not feel as frustrated.
- Kathryn, age 12, Indiana

Straighten up your desk, and when it looks just right, snap a picture. Hang that picture next to your desk. Then, when it gets messy, look at the picture to remind yourself that your desk should match the photo.
- Kenna, age 10, Minnesota

In your room, have separate bins for items that tend to get lost in the shuffle, such as homework papers, pens and pencils, and art supplies. Then label each bin for easy sorting.
- Kaylee, age 11, Illinois

My school stuff used to be pretty disorganized, so I decided to start color-coding my notebooks and folders for each class. For example, if you try it, your notebook could be blue for your social studies class, and your folder for papers would be blue, too. It's an easy (and colorful!) way to stay organized.
- Sharon, age 13, New Mexico

Spend just five minutes every day organizing your things. Put away items you left out on your desk, go through your school papers for the next day, and make sure you have everything in your backpack that you'll need tomorrow.
- Madeline, age 10, Pennsylvania

If you're dreading organizing things in your room, turn on some fun, upbeat music while you clean up. Give yourself bonus points for singing and dancing, too!
- Teresa, age 11, Kentucky

Leave reminder notes for yourself to stay on top of organizing. For example, you could stick a note on your bathroom mirror that says, "Clean desk," or put a note on a school folder that says, "Put away homework."
- Sofia, age 8, Connecticut

Are there too many pencils on your desk? Or a stack of unread books? Start organizing by eliminating anything that is unnecessary. Stash those items somewhere else or ask if you can donate them. The fewer things that you have on your desk, the easier it'll be to stay organized.
- Clara, age 11, New York

Instead of waiting until you start middle school, come up with an organization system now. Decide where you should keep what in your desk, set up a binder for your homework, and make sure your locker is tidy, just to name a few ideas. Get organized as soon as you can, and it'll be an easier transition into middle school.
- Olivia, age 10, North Carolina

How can I feel warmer during winter?
I'm not the biggest fan of winter, mainly because I feel cold almost all the time and my skin is always dry. I want to be happier this winter! Does anyone have some winter care tips that will warm me up and make me feel better?

Put petroleum jelly or lotion on your hands, and wear socks on your hands to bed. Both my sister and I have done it, and it really helps with dry skin. The socks trap the moisture and let the lotion soak in all night. It works!
- Roseanna, age 13, Pennsylvania

I love winter! To stay warm, try drinking hot chocolate or sitting under a heated blanket.
- Maggie, age 10, Tennessee

Set aside an hour or 45 minutes to exercise. If you run on a treadmill or do some other indoor exercises, you definitely will not be cold. If you work out hard, you might stay warm for an hour after you finish.
- Chloe, age 14, Maryland

At night, I toss my blankets into the dryer for a few minutes so that they'll be toasty warm when I go to bed. Ask a parent if you can do this with your blankets—or even your pajamas!
- Roxanna, age 12, Georgia

Have fun in the snow! Wrap up in warm clothes, and go outside to make snowmen and snowballs. When you go home, have a mug of hot cocoa.
- Lexie, age 11, New Hampshire

When I get chapped lips, my lips start to sting, so I always wear lip balm that smells really good.
- Paige, age 9, Connecticut

Ask a parent if you can have a winter-themed sleepover with friends. Decorate invitations for your friends with snowflakes, make yummy hot cocoa, and cuddle up for a winter movie marathon.
- Maria, age 12, Texas

Layer up! The more clothing layers you wear, the warmer you'll be. This doesn't mean you can't still love your look. Wear a tank top over a T-shirt over a long-sleeved shirt. Try making a scarf into a belt. Put hair clips on a winter hat. Or maybe wear a skirt over leggings. You'll stay warm and make a fashion statement, too.
- Hannah, age 11, California

Reading is a fun way to stay occupied. Make a list of all the books that you'd like to finish before winter ends. This will help you enjoy the season.
- Daylinn, age 12, Texas

Winter is tough for a lot of people. Carry a little bottle of lotion around at school to apply to your hands. After you rub lotion onto your hands, use your hands to smooth static out of your hair.
- Harsitha, age 12, Ohio

Wear slippers around the house to keep your feet extra warm.
- Halle, age 11, California

Here are some showering tips that will make a difference: First, even though you might feel like taking a long, hot shower, turn the heat down a bit—that will keep your skin moist and your hair shiny. Second, find a thick moisturizing lotion that works for you, and apply it all over right after you shower.
- Jordyn, age 12, Utah

I love to draw. Because I love to play outside in the summer, I practice my drawing during the winter. You can do that, too.
- Callie, age 10, Arkansas

Make a fleece headband to keep your head warm—that's a fun craft. Also, I like to take warm baths before I go to bed.
- Sara, age 8, Delaware

Warm up by baking some treats!
- Lauren, age 11, Ontario

When my skin is dry, I choose a yummy-smelling lotion. My favorite scent is wildflower. Maybe if you have something that reminds you of spring and summer—such as the scent of a lotion—it will give you a more positive attitude about winter.
- Elaine, age 11, Ohio

If you get very cold, try putting your hands in lukewarm (not hot) water.
- Luna, age 12, Michigan

My favorite thing to do in the winter is to make hot cocoa. My mom makes homemade hot cocoa with real chocolate. It's the best!
- Grace, age 11, Ohio

Check the weather forecast. Then you will know what weather to expect and can wear the right clothing or coat.
- Meghan, age 12, Texas

I have dry skin, too. I try to remember to drink a lot of water so that my skin stays moisturized. Drying my hands completely after washing them also helps.
- Rosa, age 13, Pennsylvania

Have you ever tried using coconut oil on your dry skin? It helps my family and me a lot. Another idea is to try switching to a soap that is made to moisturize your skin. Hope this helps.
- Jessica, age 11, Ohio

How can I stop losing library books?
I keep losing library books. I check them out, I read them in my room or take them places, and they go missing. I ended up having to spend birthday money on fines for my lost books. I want to keep checking out books, but I need to keep better track of them. Any ideas?

I keep my books in a bag with the words "Library Book Bag" on it. Use fabric paint to write these words on a plain tote bag. Put all of your borrowed books in it, and once you're done reading a book, put it back in the bag so that you don't lose it.
- Madison, age 12, Maine

In your room, make one pile for books that need to go back to the library and another pile for books you have not yet read. This works for me, so I hope it'll work for you.
- Gianna, age 11, Iowa

When I was younger, I used to lose a lot of library books. So I decided to make a special spot on my bookshelf for borrowed books. Now, whenever I finish reading a library book, it goes in my section for library books. This has helped me a lot.
- Katherine, age 12, Massachusetts

One thing you could do is check out only one book at a time. If you want to check out multiple books, make sure that you create a special place to keep your books at home.
- Jane, age 10, California

On a whiteboard in your room, make a list of all the books you've checked out and when they're due to help you keep track of when to bring them back.
- Keandra, age 13, Wisconsin

It sounds as if you might need to be a bit more organized. Go through and organize your room, desk, and backpack—you may find some library books in the process. Then be sure to do your best to stay organized!
- Paige, age 12, Washington

When I want to see which library books I've checked out and when I need to return them, I go to my library's website and log in to see all of the books I've borrowed. Then I make sure I have them all and return them by the due dates. See if your library has a website like mine does.
- Abella, age 11, Oklahoma

Check out only one or two books at a time so that you won't have to keep track of as many books. Good luck!
- Virginia, age 12, Washington

Create a special reading corner in your bedroom. In your nook, include a small shelf or basket where you'll keep all of your library books. You can also put a blanket and beanbag chair in the corner to make it extra cozy.
- Amy, age 11, Delaware

My sisters and I used to lose library books all the time, so my mom made a rule that whenever each of us is not reading a book, it goes in the family "library cabinet." This helped me a lot. Maybe your family could do the same thing.
- Eleanor, age 13, Nebraska

When I get a book from the library, I look at the due date and write it down in my school planner. That way, I always remember to return my books.
- Whitney, age 11, Virginia

If you don't lose any library books, you could reward yourself with something small, such as a new bookmark. But just in case you might lose more books, set aside a little money from your birthday or allowance—this will be your "in case of emergency" money for library fines.
- Maggie, age 10, Alaska

Try not to take your library books out of the house, but if you do, make sure you put each book back in your backpack or bag as soon as you finish reading it.
- Vivian, age 9, Texas

Write "Remember to return your books!" on a sticky note and put it somewhere where you'll notice it, such as your nightstand or your bathroom mirror.
- Grace, age 11, Massachusetts

Get a book from the library, and as soon as you finish it, return it to the library. I love reading, and I know it can be hard to remember to return books. It just takes a little discipline and a good routine.
- Evelea, age 12, Illinois

First, I must say, you have to be a good reader to go through that many books! Second, I think that after you're finished with library books, you should put them in the same spot every time. That way, you'll always know where to look for them. Remember that these books are your responsibility, and you owe it to your library to be good about returning their books.
- Megan, age 10, Illinois

You Said It!

THIS WEEK'S TOPIC

Sweet Success

This question is from 10-year-old Julia: “Describe something you thought would go really badly, but everything turned out OK. I thought I’d mess up at my dance recital, but I didn’t!”

These girls shared their thoughts:

I went to horse camp without having any experience in horseback riding. There were a few competitions and I surprised myself and won a few ribbons!

- Ember, age 12, Arizona

I competed in a tennis tournament. I thought I’d lose all of my matches but instead ended up winning more than half of them.

- Jackie, age 11, Missouri

When I was in gymnastics, I was scared to do a cartwheel on the balance beam. I tried one anyway and landed it!

- Emma, age 10, North Carolina

I thought I would mess up during my ballet recital. I was so nervous but I ended up doing great.

- Anna, age 11, Ohio

I studied really hard but still thought I was going to do bad on a test at school. However, I surprised myself and got an A.

- Ashleigh, age 8, North Carolina

One time, I was picked to do a solo in my school choir. I was so scared that I was going to mess up but it went so well. Everyone clapped and cheered when I finished!

- Alemayehu, age 11, Mississippi

I auditioned for a play and felt like I wasn’t going to get a part. I was not chosen for the lead, but was given another really fun part. It was great and I was really happy I decided to try out.

- Natalie, age 10, Maryland

I was so nervous for a project at school. I didn’t know where to start and felt like I was going to do a terrible job. However, I worked really hard on it and everything turned out fine.

- An American Girl fan

I went to the beach with my family this past summer. I was really nervous about going in the ocean. I decided to give it a try and I’m so happy that I did. I loved it and didn’t want to leave!

- Hallie, age 10, Alabama

When I auditioned for orchestra and was very anxious. During the audition I thought I messed up the solo, but I did just fine. I still ended up being picked for first chair.

- Ainsley, age 13, Wisconsin

I thought that going to a new school would be horrible. However, it turned out to be awesome.

- Bella, age 11, Oregon

I was so nervous for my piano recital. I practiced a lot and ended up doing great. I just needed to be confident and believe in myself.

- Samantha, age 8, North Carolina

expand_more expand_less

NEXT WEEK'S TOPIC

This question is from the editors at American Girl magazine: “Millions of people around the world are online at any moment, sharing their ideas, stories, pictures, and videos—and you might be one of them! How do you feel about bein¬g part of this giant digital world? What are your favorite things to share?”

Type your response in the box below. Don't forget to include your first name, age, and state. Do not include your e-mail address. Click the SEND button ONCE to send it to us. We'll print some of your responses next week.

IMPORTANT: Do not send new product ideas via e-mail.

SEND A TOPIC

Got an issue? Want to know what other girls think? Then mail in your Help! question to the address below. The editors at American Girl will review submitted questions and post one on this Web site every week.

A question like yours may have been posted before. Check Past Help to find out.

Send your question to:
Play @ American Girl Help!
American Girl magazine
8400 Fairway Place
Middleton, WI 53562

Important: Please allow plenty of time for your letter to be read and posted. Because of all the Help! questions we receive, not all questions will be used. Please do not send in the same question more than once.

PAST TOPICS

Some of your past responses were so good that we decided to post them again!

What if your room were made of candy?
If my room were made of sweets, the walls would be huge toaster pastries with sprinkles. My beanbag would be a gigantic chocolate croissant. My throw rug would be a flattened cinnamon roll, and my bed would be a wobbly jelly candy. I wish I really had such a room!
- Katy, age 9, New York
My desk would be a giant cupcake with a mini cupcake for a stool. It would be so yummy looking.
- Brenna, age 12, Illinois
My floor would be frozen chocolate ice cream.
- An American Girl fan, age 10, Indiana
I'd have a tie-dyed pink, green, and purple taffy bedspread with pink and green marshmallow pillow. And graham-cracker walls.
- Rachel, age 11, Texas
The blanket on my bed would be a giant piece of ribbon candy, and I'd have flavored sugar wallpaper.
- Grace, age 12, Wisconsin
I'd have a strawberry licorice rug.
- Emma, age 12, Massachusetts
Hanging from the ceiling would be a pink rock-candy chandelier.
- Alice, age 10, Washington
All of my furniture, including the legs and frame of my bed, would be made of gingerbread. My mattress and sheets would be made of cotton candy. That would be so cool.
- Kate, age 11, Michigan
My favorite spot in my room is a chair I got for Christmas that has bungee cords instead of a seat so I can bounce into it and bounce out. I think the perfect candy for that would be taffy—green taffy. All my lamps would be made of hard candy with glowing lights inside, so whenever I turned on the lights, a rainbow of sweet colors would light up my room.
- Anna Grace, age 12, Louisiana
I would have a four-poster solid caramel bed, marshmallow pillows and comforter, a chocolate side table, a rock-candy stained-glass window, and a mint carpet.
- Elizabeth, age 12, Virginia
If you designed a T-shirt, what would it look like?
My T-shirt would be blue with leopard print, and I'd wear a white tank top underneath it so that it could hang down off my shoulder.
- GG, age 10, Canada
My dream T-shirt would be a green and blue tie-dyed shirt I made myself. I know that sounds simple, but I've always wanted to try tie-dyeing.
- Maria, age 12, Texas
My dream T-shirt would be pink and have ballet slippers on the back. On the front, it would have pictures of ballet dancers. I'm a dancer, and I would wear that shirt all the time.
- Annie, age 11, Maryland
I have a parrot, so my dream shirt would have a picture of my parrot on it.
- Michala, age 13, Indiana
My dream T-shirt would be light purple. It would have a picture of a horse and rider doing barrel racing. The horse and rider would be black. The words would read, "Turning and Burning!" I love barrel racing, so this would be the perfect shirt for me.
- Mary Beth, age 12, Texas
My T-shirt would read, "Save the Animals! Don't Litter" and have a picture of a happy sea creature. I care about animals a lot, and I want to raise awareness that litter can trap animals.
- Nadia, age 9, Massachusetts
My T-shirt would be covered with glitter and rhinestones. The rhinestones would spell my name. It would be a really girly shirt!
- Ainsley, age 10, Wisconsin
I would have a neon green shirt with hot-pink polka dots.
- Mary Helen, age 9, Georgia
My T-shirt would be pink and show wild animals chasing each other around the waist.
- Anabelle, age 8, Pennsylvania
I would design a teal T-shirt that would say BE YOURSELF in big letters. Maybe it would have a peace sign in the corner, too. I would choose this because I want people to remember that being yourself isn't a bad thing.
- Allie, age 11, Arizona
What fantasy field trip would you like to take with your class?
It would be a dream to go on a field trip to Paris. There would be so many sights to see. One of the highlights would be to take a French cooking class and learn how to make crpes. I've never been to Paris, and I'd love to go with my class.
- Marie, age 12, Louisiana
I would take my class to a chocolate factory. We would learn how chocolate is made, and at the end of the tour, we'd get to taste-test treats. Then we'd stock up on chocolate at the gift shop.
- Jordyn, age 13, Utah
If it were possible, I'd definitely travel to the moon with my classmates. In our science class, we're learning about the moon, and our teacher always jokes about going to the moon. If we could actually voyage there, everyone would be so excited!
- Allison, age 12, Wisconsin
I'd like to travel to the Dominican Republic with my Spanish class. We'd try out some of our Spanish, we would explore beautiful natural areas, and create drawings for art class, too.
- Jade, age 9, Wisconsin
If I could plan a dream field trip for my home-school co-op, I'd choose a trip to a horseback-riding camp. We'd learn all about horses, such as how to ride and care for them, and it would be so much fun.
- Brenna, age 12, Illinois
I'd love to invite my former classmates to visit India. My family and I are currently living in India, and I think the culture here is really cool. I'd love to show my old friends what India is like. We'd eat Indian food, go shopping and try on silk saris, and visit the Taj Mahal. We would have a great time while we learn about Indian culture and history.
- Aishwarya, age 11, India
I would want to go to a movie set with my class so that we could see how a movie is made. We'd see all of the behind-the-scenes action, and we'd even meet the actors. My class would have loads of fun, and we'd learn things, too.
- Makela, age 9, California
I live in Hawaii, so my dream field trip would be one I've surprisingly never been on with my class. We'd go to the beach! It would be so awesome to play volleyball, swim, and surf with my classmates.
- Emily, age 13, Hawaii
My dream field trip would be to visit Louisa May Alcott's house. I love Little Women, and her books have inspired me to become a writer one day. During the field trip, my classmates and I would learn about her life and what she did for fun at my age. We'd write stories based on her style of writing, too.
- Emma, age 12, Massachusetts
A lot of people in my class love learning about history, so I'd plan a dream field trip to Washington, D.C. We'd visit all of the famous memorials and monuments, the Supreme Court, and many museums. And of course, we'd go to the White House. With some luck, maybe we would meet the president!
- Amla, age 11, California
How did you welcome new siblings into your family?
My stepsister was three when she joined our family. I love to bake, so to welcome her to our house, I made a batch of chocolate cupcakes, complete with pink icing and glittery sprinkles. She loved them! It has been a couple of years since then, and we're a lot closer now.
- Anastasia, age 10, New York
Last year, my mom had twins. When I found out that she was expecting not one but two babies, I was really excited, but I also knew life was about to change a lot. To prepare, I made sure to spend plenty of quality time with my mom, and when my two sisters were born, I learned how to help take care of them. I was a little afraid that I would be forgotten about when the babies came, but my mom and I still do fun things together, such as going shopping or getting manicures together.
- Angel, age 12, Ohio
I have an older stepbrother. He's 31, and he's so fun to hang out with. When he joined our family, I was only six years old, and I was nervous that we wouldn't get along. But then I made it a goal to talk to him and learn about his interests. He makes our family even more awesome!
- Allie, age 11, Arizona
I love to sew gifts for people, so when I found out a new baby would be joining our family, I made her pajamas, a tutu, and even a baby-sized purse.
- Carly, age 10, Washington
I'm the oldest of seven kids. My baby brother Luke was born just a few months ago. I loved him from the moment I first saw him, and he and I bonded right away. I love to hold him while we listen to music together. He's so cute!
- Brenna, age 12, Illinois
I have an adopted sister, and at first, I thought we were nothing alike. Then as we got to know each other better, we discovered we had a lot in common, such as playing softball and writing stories. We get along great now.
- Xochitl, age 9, Washington
When I was six, my mom and dad adopted a little boy from Africa. I was so excited to be a big sis. When we brought him to our house, the whole family came over to celebrate. I helped him adjust to life in our family, and now I can't imagine our family without my little brother.
- An American Girl fan, age 12, Missouri
I couldn't wait to welcome my little sister home. I have a big sister, and I've always looked up to her and counted on her for good advice. Now it was my turn to be the role model. Each year on my birthday, I write a letter that shares a bit of wisdom with my little sister, and she'll open the letter on her corresponding birthday. It's a nice tradition that I can have with her.
- Trina, age 11, Arizona
I have a 13-year-old stepsister. Our favorite thing to do together is to go to concerts to see our favorite band. I always feel like I can be myself with her.
- Alexis, age 10, England
I'm an only child, but when my family hosted an exchange student for a year, it was just like having a new sister in our family. I wanted her to feel comfortable and welcome in our family, so I talked to her often, did fun things with her, and we became as close as sisters. When she left, I was sad, but we still talk all the time.
- Maisy, age 12, Louisiana
What is your favorite way to get moving?
My favorite way to move (and get fresh air) is to run around in my backyard with my dog, Max. He's a really big dog and needs lots of exercise, so he's always in the mood to run around with me or play fetch.
- Anna Grace, age 12, Louisiana
I love to go to swim practice and hang out with my buddies. We like to chat before we get in the water, and it's fun to practice our strokes together. My friends and I are always moving!
- Cheney, age 10, Pennsylvania
I'm in a martial arts class, so whenever I want to get moving, I practice my moves and techniques. It's fun to practice, and sometimes I even make up my own moves.
- Mia, age 12, Florida
When I need to move around, I like to rock out alone in my room. As I dance around to fun music, it helps me to forget anything that upset me during the day.
- Allie, age 11, Arizona
I really enjoy playing ice hockey. I've been playing since I was three years old, and I think it's the best sport ever.
- Belle, age 10, Alaska
I'm in a performing-arts circus, so my favorite ways to move are to practice on a trapeze or ride a unicycle.
- Trinity, age 12, Minnesota
I definitely get moving in my tap-dancing classes. It's awesome to be with other people who enjoy doing something I love to do, too. It has been a great experience.
- Gwyneth, age 10, Texas
My favorite way to exercise is to ride my horse, Cody. I love jumping and barrel racing.
- Nicole, age 9, California
After my first surfing lesson, I knew from the moment that I first stood up on the board that it would grow to be something I love. And I really do love it. Being in the ocean waves is my favorite way to get moving.
- Anna, age 11, Texas
One of my favorite things to do is archery. Some people might think that archery doesn't require a lot of energy, but a surprising amount of movement goes into pulling back the bow and shooting the arrow. It's great exercise.
- Lauren, age 12, Arizona
If you could take a class about anything, what topic would you choose?
I'd sign up for a class about world cultures. I'm very interested in traveling, but since I'm a kid, I just travel wherever my family wants to go. Taking a class about different cultures would be a fun way to see the world while staying in the classroom.
- Andrea, age 12, Virginia
I would take a snowboarding class at school. Taking a class could definitely help me to be an even more awesome snowboarder.
- Kaylynn, age 11, Minnesota
I would take a class about the ancient Mayan civilizations. I went to South America last summer and visited some Mayan ruins, so I'd love to learn more about them.
- Cassidy, age 12, Colorado
I'd love to take a class about understanding animals. I always wonder what my dog is thinking. I wish I could understand him better, so this class would be perfect for me.
- Celeste, age 11, California
I'm a huge music fan, so I'd really like to take a class in which I can learn how to be a pop singer. Fun, upbeat music always lifts my spirits.
- Sneha, age 9, California
My dream class would be about kindness. I love being nice to people and being a true friend, but it would be great to learn about more kind things I can do for others.
- Lesia, age 11, California
I would take a photography class. I love capturing life's special moments, and I'd like to learn how to take even better pictures. A photography class at my school would be so awesome.
- Katherine, age 10, New York
I would take a class about space. I am fascinated by stars and planets. We would look through high-powered telescopes, have stargazing parties, and end with a field trip to the moon. I can dream, right?
- Peony, age 13, Connecticut
I've always been interested in the people and language of Sweden, so I would like to take a class in which I could learn how to speak Swedish. We could go on a field trip to Sweden, too!
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Iowa
I would take a chess class. I love to play chess, and if I were to take it a class, maybe I could finally beat my mom!
- Elise, age 10, Illinois
What is your favorite thing to do when it's cold outside?
When it's too cold to play outside, my three little brothers and I curl up on the couch with a bunch of blankets and have a marathon of our favorite animated movies. It's a great way for us to bond, especially on a blustery winter day.
- Elaina, age 12, Missouri
I love to go snowboarding with my family and friends. There's a great hill near my house, so when we have some free time, we grab our boards and show off our best tricks. This is my favorite winter activity because one day I want to be a professional snowboarder.
- Sofia, age 8, Connecticut
This time of year, I like to work on puzzles. I've already completed a 3,000-piece puzzle and also a 1,000-piece puzzle. Puzzles are a perfect indoor activity.
- Maria, age 13, Georgia
In the winter, I like to knit with my grandma. It's so relaxing, and it's fun to make some new creations. And we make great memories together, too.
- Olivia, age 12, Ohio
My favorite thing to do outside is to play with my dog, Boris. We romp around in the snow together and roll down hills, and he gets lots of snowy hugs.
- Maggie, age 11, Canada
My brother and I love to make a snow playground in our backyard. We build stairs, tunnels, and slides together, and it's really fun.
- Amy, age 12, Minnesota
If it's chilly outside, I like to read. When I snuggle under the covers with a good book, a summer setting can turn a cold, rainy day into a warm, sunny one.
- Melanie, age 9, California
I love to go sledding. The feeling of rushing down a hill with snowflakes blowing around me always makes me feel free and happy.
- Sophia, age 11, Colorado
I'm not a huge fan of winter, so when it's cold outside, I pretend I'm at the beach in my house. I put on a flower lei, wear flip-flops, and eat ice cream. It makes me happy!
- Celeste, age 12, Ohio
On a wintry day, my mom and I drink mugs of hot chocolate and play board games together. I have a lot of fun with my mom.
- Christine, age 11, New Jersey
Whom would you plan a special event for and why?
I would plan a special event for my horseback-riding instructor. I used to feel insecure about riding horses, but since I started taking lessons, I'm happier and I'm a better rider, too. My instructor is originally from Hawaii, so I'd plan a trail-riding party on a beach—it would remind her of home.
- Malina, age 12, Virginia
My parents are the most important people in my life, so I'd plan an event for them. Mom and Dad are both bird-watchers, and I bet they can identify nearly every bird in the world. That's why I would organize a bird-watching party for them. We live in the woods, so guests would bring binoculars and watch all kinds of wild birds together.
- Lily, age 10, Idaho
I'd choose my science teacher. She's the best teacher I've ever had. She has had a big impact on my life, and through her I've really learned to appreciate science. For a special event, I'd plan a science day for the kids at my school, and she would help us learn more about chemistry and biology.
- Allie, age 12, North Carolina
Up until I was seven years old, it was just my mom and me. But then my mom married my stepdad, and since then, it's been awesome to be a family. He makes me happy and always supports me. I'd throw him a best-stepdad-in-the-world party!
- Bailey, age 10, Louisiana
My big sister will be going off to college before I know it. It's kind of scary, since she's been around my whole life, and I know I'll miss her a lot. I would plan an awesome going-away party for her.
- Genalise, age 11, Texas
I would organize a bake-off contest in memory of my great-grandma. Our special tradition was baking together. I would love to honor her legacy by doing the thing that brought us closer together.
- Allison, age 13, Kansas
If I could plan a special event for someone, it would be for my friend Eden. Last year, my father lost his job and we had to move. I was scared about starting at a new school, but Eden introduced herself and helped me get used to my new surroundings. We're still good friends, and I'm thankful for her help.
- Isabell, age 9, Maine
I would pick my grandpa because he is so kind and wonderful. He taught me how to play baseball and how to ride a tractor. I'd plan a simple fishing trip, because he loves to go fishing, and it would be fun for it to just be the two of us.
- Megan, age 11, Utah
I had been bullied, and it left me feeling sad and alone. I wouldn't have gotten through it if it hadn't been for my school counselor. She helped me feel a lot better. I'd love to plan a surprise party for her, complete with cake, streamers, and presents. It's the least I could do, since she has helped me in countless ways.
- Aurora, age 12, Alaska
My mom owns a bakery, and she works so hard there. I'd organize a very special spa day and meal for my mom, because she deserves a nice break.
- Isabel, age 11, Nevada
What food would you serve in your very own food truck?
I adore breakfast foods, so I'd serve breakfast all day at my food truck. Customers could top their pancakes or waffles with berries, whipped cream, chocolate, and other toppings.
- Halle, age 11, California
I'm allergic to gluten, dairy, wheat, and shellfish, so I would open an allergen- free food truck. It can be hard for me to find yummy foods that I can eat, so this truck would offer different foods for people like me to choose from.
- Sofia, age 12, Oklahoma
My food truck would have only grilled-cheese sandwiches and pickles. You can't go wrong with this combination!
- Mackynzie, age 10, Arkansas
I would serve giant fortune cookies. I'd dip them into dark chocolate, white chocolate, or caramel, and I'd cover them with sprinkles, too. The fortunes would have creative and meaningful messages, and customers would even be able to customize cookies for birthdays or holidays.
- Alex, age 12, Tennessee
If I could have my own food truck, I would serve fresh fruit and yogurt. I'd park the truck by my school, so that way, kids could grab a quick and healthy snack on the way home from school.
- Abigail, age 11, Texas
My food truck would serve different kinds of cotton candy. Cotton candy is my favorite food to eat at a fair, because it's goofy-looking and fun to eat, so I'd love to offer it to people year-round. I'd make cotton candy in unusual colors such as teal or orange, and people could put sprinkles or whipped cream on top if they'd like.
- Morgan, age 13, Wisconsin
If I got the chance to have a food truck, my customers wouldn't be people—they'd be animals! Once a week, I'd travel to animal shelters and donate pet food for all of the animals to eat.
- Emily, age 12, Tennessee
Instead of a lemonade stand, I'd have a lemonade truck. I'd serve regular lemonade, orange-flavored lemonade, and limeade, and people could drop berries into their drinks, too. I love lemonade!
- Amelia, age 11, California
I'd create a vegan food truck. I'm a vegan, so that means that I don't eat meat, milk, or eggs. At my food truck, I'd serve bean-and-rice burritos, fried tofu, vegetable dishes, and vegan ice cream. Having my food truck would be fun, and it would be yummy for vegans like me.
- Frances, age 12, North Carolina
I would serve foods from different countries. For example, one week I would serve Chinese food, and the next week I could serve French food. The servers in the food truck would wear traditional clothing from each country, too.
- Rose Cate, age 13, Pennsylvania
Have you experienced drama with friends online?
My friend helped me set up an online account. She knew my password and username. After we had a big fight, she went into my account and posted lies. To deal with it, I changed my password and later shut down my account. I learned that I have to be more careful with my personal info.
- An American Girl fan, age 12, Virginia
I went to an online game website that has chat rooms. I guess the site wasn't a great place to play because I always got rude comments from people. Later, I thought about it and decided that I could spend my time in more useful ways, so I quit the game for good.
- An American Girl fan, age 11, Connecticut
My best friend was cyberbullied by another girl who used a fake name and started saying mean things about her. The bully's former friend told us who the bully was, and the bully got her cell phone taken away so that she couldn't hurt people anymore.
- Meg, age 9, New York
Two years ago, one of my best friends was posting mean comments to me under a fake name. I was very hurt when I figured out that my friend was being so mean to me. I realized that maybe I had said some things in the past that had hurt people, so I checked my texts, e-mails, and social media sites and apologized to anyone that I might have hurt. This made my other friendships much stronger.
- Aimee, age 12, Oklahoma
My friends and I post to our own poetry blog, and recently someone left some really nasty comments that included some swear words. It was scary, but my friends and I stuck together and deleted the comments. We were upset, but we didn't let it ruin us.
- Claudia, age 12, Massachusetts
Cyberbullying has happened to me, and I have just ignored it. You can't let mean people get to you like that. I might feel bad at first whenever I see something bad that's been said about me, but then I just tell myself that that's not who I am, and the person who said that doesn't know me. Everything feels better after that.
- Maegan, age 11, Wyoming
Some unknown person started e-mailing mean things to me. But when I went to school, I thought I knew who it was. The meanest girl at my school was asking people for their e-mail addresses, and she had asked me for mine, too. I told my mom about it. My mom got to the bottom of it and told the bully's mom, and now that girl isn't allowed to have e-mail anymore.
- Gabrielle, age 10, New Hampshire
Someone texted me something really inappropriate and mean. The next day at school, that person came up to me and asked if I got the text. I smiled and said, "Yes, and it was sweet of you to send it." The person got really confused and has left me alone. I am proud that I stood up like that, and now I always do it for my friends.
- Eliana, age 12, Pennsylvania
One of my friends texted me something that hurt my feelings. I told her that I really valued our friendship and that I would appreciate if she stopped saying that because it hurt my feelings. She did get mad, but I chose to not respond. I learned that drama by text isn't worth it.
- Meghan, age 13, Georgia
There have been a couple of times when I was made fun of online. I haven't let it bother me, because I know that people say things online that they won't say in person. If a friend is mean online, I talk to her at school or when we hang out so that there are no more misunderstandings.
- An American Girl fan, age 12, North Carolina

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