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Walking Your Talk: Showing Your Values Even When Your Kids Aren’t Looking

“Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold — but so does a hard-boiled egg.” ~Author Unknown

As parents and teachers we often zone out when we get a moment alone.  It’s normal– I do it too.  I am far from perfect, lose my temper sometimes, say the wrong thing, and sometimes hover outside of myself with folded arms and ask myself, “is that REALLY the best you can do?”  That ever happen to you?  I’m working on it– just like everyone else.

The other day I was sitting in a café working during lunch time.  A few tables away, a black woman in her 40s, sat with 7 elderly men and woman which she was clearly taking on a much anticipated outing.  She was taking care of them.  She wiped their mouths, wheeled them in their wheelchairs, asked them questions about their lives and facilitated conversation between the group.

It struck me.  We often talk about those in care-taking positions (that may not appeal to a wide audience) as being underpaid and under-appreciated.  That always bothered me.  Teachers, nurses, aides—they work very hard and do such an important job.  I know we’ve all said this before– but it’s still true as true can be.

I watched her now and again show such patience, concern and, perhaps most importantly, curiosity to these people in her care.  And I was moved to do something.  Does that sound ridiculous?  That’s OK with me.

Someone once urged me, “imagine your child by your side, holding your hand Read more

Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Plate: How NOT to Compare in a Competitive World

Is your plate half empty or half full? Thanksgiving bounty

A Thanksgiving Article about Celebrating the Bounty Right In Front of Us

It was a popular discussion in our household. Three kids. Three desserts. Six eyes darting back and forth.  Who got the best cupcake? The biggest dish of Jello? The largest number of Mandarin “dinky” oranges?

“Mom! Scott got more than me!”

Dad would jump in before it ever got out of hand.

“Robyn.  Look at your own plate.”

Or, as the years went on, a simple point downward at his own plate would tell of his sage advice.

Ahhh. Fatherly advice.  We don’t always appreciate it when it’s handed out, but I can tell you, now that my father passed away, I cherish these little tidbits that were so “him.” It’s advice that I remind myself of from time to time when my own perfectionistic Gremlin comes out to rear its ugly head.  “Are you achieving enough? Do you have enough? Don’t you want what she has?”

Comparison is normal.  People do it in all areas of their lives.  Weight. Money. Success. And the opportunity presents itself at every age and in every scenario.  One boy has more blocks, one girl got more time with Dad, one teen gets to stay out later, one career woman gets a Read more

Ask Dr. Robyn: When Ho, Ho, Ho means Buy, Buy, Buy

buy_now

Dear Dr. Robyn,

My child does not stop talking about what he wants for the holidays this year.  Every time a new toy or game is shown on TV, I hear “I want that!”  I think the media has it in for us.  What am I supposed to do?

–Josie K., NC

Dear Josie K.,

Holidays and commercialism. I love this time of year, don’t you? Yet while it is filled with the comfort and warmth of loved ones, it is also the biggest commercial season of the year.  Think of the sales! The must-have toys of the season! Corporations vie for your attention and of course, the attention of your children.

Believe it or not, it is estimated that advertisers spend more than $12 billon per year on advertising messages aimed at your children. More than half of the toy industry’s annual $30 billion in sales happen during the weeks leading up to the holiday season. Therefore while the average child watches more than 40,000 TV commercials per year— or 100 per day—perhaps the most influential commercials happen in preparation for December’s spending frenzy. Read more

Ask Dr. Robyn: What Happened to the “Thanks” part of Thanksgiving?

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Questions to discuss with your children at the Thanksgiving Table:

What are you grateful for this year?

Who have you thanked recently and for what?

Who has thanked you and why?

How can you donate your Time, Treasures, and Talents this year?

What is it about your family makes you grateful?

What is it about your school or your friends that makes you feel grateful?

Who has inspired or supported you during a rough time? How were they helpful?

How can gratitude guide you in 2010?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Dr. Robyn Signature

Why I love "Old People"

Tallie's Great Grandparents and Great Aunt talking about all the amazing things this little baby can do.

Why I Love “Old People”

Dr. Robyn Silverman

We just went down to Florida to visit our 3 month old daughter, Tallie’s Great Grandparents (my husband’s grandparents– the ultimate team!). They’re 90 and 91 years old.  They’re married for 70 years.  They’re…amazing.

I always had a very close connection with my grandparents growing up. They lived in the next town over and we saw them often.  I have memories of my “Nanny” taking me to lunch, knitting me sweaters, and just spending time talking.  She said I was the sunshine of her life and I believed her.

When you get to be in your teens, you think the “old people” are so old that they’re out of touch.  As you get older, you find out that they’re more “in touch” with the ways of the world than you are.  They call it like they see it.  They say exactly what’s on their minds.  They don’t care about “standing on ceremony” (as our grandmother says) or worrying that someone won’t include them or will think badly of them.

I think it rubs off.  When I’m around our Florida Grandparents (and Great Aunts, cousins…etc!), I’m not nervous about hurting someone’s feelings.  I speak my mind and they appreciate it.  We have candid conversations and we don’t look for “hidden meanings” or wonder if we meant what we said.  We also have emotional conversations–conversations about gratitude and love and life.  We tell stories and share insights. We say the things most people wait to say until the person has left the earth. We tell each other why we are so appreciative. We laugh. We hug. It’s stripped down and open. It feels like it should be.

They marveled over every little thing Tallie did.  Every sound, every smile.  They remind us that the simple things should be coveted because time goes fast and, while life is amazing, if you don’t pay attention, you can miss out on the best moments.

But I think the most important thing about visiting grandparents is the relationships that can form between a child and these incredible seniors.  Nobody can teach a child about nurturing, longevity, patience, forgiveness, and lifetime love like Grandparents. In our fast paced world many of us can’t stand to be in a room with the same person for more than 20 minutes—yet they’re spending everyday of 70 years with one another (and “not long enough,” as “Ma” says).  Being with them reveals how it can work.

They’ve already gone “through it all” and they are not loving for what they get in return or trying to compete to get noticed.  They give and share and make us laugh out loud with stories we’ve heard a thousand times.  These are the stories I try to hold in my memory because one day they will be gone. For my daughter’s sake, I must remember.  Who am I kidding? For my sake, I must remember.

It’s amazing what can happen when you open your eyes and your heart to the possibility of a deep understanding between you and a grandparent.  They may not even be yours by blood—but they love you like you are…and you can’t help but love them like you’ve known them for a lifetime.

When we were leaving Florida yesterday, “Ma” and “Pa” told us how much we had done for them by coming down to see them and bringing our beautiful baby with us to steal their hearts.  I’m grateful.  Anything Tallie gets from them is a blessing.

Just a note- and of course this is a personal decision, but if you have been holding a grudge or have been disconnected with your child’s grandparents, perhaps it’s time to bury the hatchet or reconnect.  I wouldn’t say to do it if my family hadn’t experienced a reunification of some sort at one time or another.  It’s worth it.  When we let the past continue to govern the future, we miss out on what can be. And what can be…can be wonderful.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

How do you express your gratitude?

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Since it’s appreciation month for Powerful Words, I’m always looking for great ways to express gratitude.  How do YOU express your gratitude? How do you foster it in your children?

We can express gratitude…
(1) Through a letter: Yesterday we talked about writing a letter to the teacher telling him or her all the ways s/he has helped you or your child.  By writing a letter, you put longevity into words that allows the recipient to read and reread your appreciative statements.  Tell them all the ways you are thankful. What a wonderful gift!

(2) Through a gift: There are plenty of gifts you can give to someone to show your appreciation.  Whether it’s flowers, candy, homemade cookies, or simply something you saw that made you think of them, a little something can say a lot.  Especially when you make it yourself or the gift is personalized in some way for that person, you can really show you’ve been thinking of the other person and what s/he means to you.

(3) Through spending time: As we know, children spell “love” T-I-M-E.  Time together can show how much you appreciate someone else.  Especially when you do something that is meaningful to the other person– see a movie they’ve been wanting to see, or even going somewhere that you know they’d rather not go to alone (like the hospital, to visit someone they have mixed feelings about, etc), you are saying that that person is important to you and that you appreciate all they’ve done.

(4) Through a song, dance, or art: Some of us have a creative spirit.  Use it.  If you sing beautifully, play the piano, write songs, draw, or paint, you can use whatever medium you desire to show someone how much you appreciate them.  And no matter what kind of dancer you are, if you are grateful, you can show your gratitude through your movement.  Just check out the gratitude dancers above!

(5) Through your own words: Just say how you feel.  No  time like the present! We often let time pass without saying a thing.  If your husband is taking out the garbage and your wife has cooked your favorite meal, or your children cleaned their rooms without asking, make sure they know how much you appreciate it.  In many families around the world, other spouses and children might not be as considerate. Don’t let sleeping dogs lie–remind yourself to do it often– tell them today!

Tell us how you express your gratitude.  It’s a great time to let people know how much you care!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

8 Tips to Writing A Thank You Note to Your Teacher

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It’s appreciation month for Powerful Words and many of our member schools are getting ready to celebrate “Teacher Appreciation Week.” That means that it’s a great time to write a letter of appreciation and gratitude to all our favorite teachers, coaches, instructors, and mentors in our lives.

At the end of last year, we discussed what to include in a letter of appreciation—but it stands repeating. Whether your child is writing the letter, your teen, or your writing it with them, these guidelines stand. So get your pens ready—and let’s talk gratitude!

  1. Be as specific as possible: Refrain from being too cliché and general. Tell them exactly why you appreciate them.
  2. Use paper or a card that allows you to express your unique self: Sometimes, those pre-written cards don’t cut it. Ask your child to create his own stationary or use a beautiful blank card in which you can write the message instead.
  3. Use a greeting and a closing that shows respect: Remind your kids to forget “hey,” “hi,” and “see you around.” Let’s show our teachers that we respect them and regard them highly.
  4. Handwrite it: Even if you don’t love your handwriting, handwritten notes always beat typed notes any day. Make it personal!
  5. Be gracious: Even if you and the teacher don’t always agree, highlight some of the ways that s/he has helped your child.
  6. Talk about how the lessons will influence your child: Which lessons will stick with your child for years to come? What changes have you seen in your child?
  7. Talk about the past and the future: The teachers and coaches at your local schools and Powerful Words schools have been helping your child for quite some time! What did you think when you first met this person? What did your child think?
  8. Don’t email it! Send the letter through the snail mail or give it directly to the person. Again, it’s about making it personal.

I recently received a beautiful book of letters from one of our Powerful Words Member Schools in Connecticut, filled with letters of appreciation from the students. What a gift that we will cherish! I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to hear how others feel about the work we do. It IS important to send letters of appreciation. You might think teachers know how you feel of that they don’t need to hear it from you, but coming from an educators standpoint—we appreciate it!

Many thanks to our Powerful Parents, our Powerful schools—and to you!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Showing Appreciation and Gratitude for Our Best Teachers

teacher and child working together

Which teachers, coaches, or instructors have inspired you?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

As you all know, the Powerful Word of the Month is Appreciation! All Powerful Words schools are currently gearing up for Teacher Appreciation Week. Of course! We’ve talked about gratitude and 10 great ways to say thank-you to teachers in the past and it’s that time again–Our teachers, coaches, and instructors deserve our gratitude.

Looking back, I still remember my favorite teachers who really made a difference in my life. I remember Mr. Orsini, my 9th grade English teacher, who helped me to believe in myself. When I raised my hand in English class (we were studying Shakespeare), he said “I know you know the answer to this one, Robyn, so I’m saving you for a hard question!” As you can see, I still remember when that happened because having a teacher believe that I was smart meant something to me. During adolescence it’s easy to doubt yourself—and I certainly did.

I also remember Mr. Hendrickson who gave me my very first 100% on a math test. I stunk in math—or at least I believe I did. But Mr. Hendrickson (who we all called “Hendi”) was around during free periods and after school to help the students who needed it. Yes, I needed it!!! He stopped me in the hallway and said, “You did it! You got a 100%!” In all my doubtful adolescence I asked, “are you sure?” And he said, “I’m sure. And I DON’T need to check it again!” It made a difference to me that he was excited for me and that he shared in the achievement because he was there to help.

Finally, I remember Dr. Carlin from Washington University. She was more than a professor—she was like a Mom away from home for me. She taught me how to do research but she also taught me to be bold and ask for what I want. On days when I just needed a home environment, I would stay over at her house with her and her husband and 2 dogs. We would sit on the back deck eating French toast and drinking coffee in our pajamas and terry cloth robes and talk about what was going on in our lives. We were like family. She taught me that a teacher can be more than just a person in a classroom—a teacher can inspire, nurture, and motivate.

There are countless others. Do you have any teachers who made a difference in your life? Tell us about them! We know there are MANY at your Powerful Words Member Schools!

My hope is that I have a bit of each of these teachers lessons inside of me now and use them with my own coaching clients and Powerful Words family members—and of course, with all of our Powerful Families. We thank you all for being a part of our lives.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Got Gratitude? Use Your Own Personal Appreciation Widget

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What is Your Gratitude Widget?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

All our Powerful Words Member Schools are focusing on Appreciation this Month. How can Powerful Parents continue the lessons of appreciation that the children are learning at their PW schools at home?

We all need reminders to keep us on track, on task, and aware of what propels us forward or pushes us back. This is especially true when it comes to appreciation and gratitude.  Many of us tend to think negatively so we need reminders to tell us to turn it around and think positively. This is where structures of your own personal “widget” comes into play.

As a success coach, I talk to my clients about using structures often. A structure is a something that serves to remind yourself or your children to do something. In this case, I’m talking about taking time to be grateful and to show gratitude. It can be as old school as tying a string around your finger or as new school as setting your blackberry to go off everyday to remind you to do it. There are millions of structures from vision boards to pictures, to a stop watch or a cabbage patch doll. It’s your diary or plan book or the large quote written above your computer— “look on the positive side!” the fortune cookie insert on your night table “Those who are grateful have sweet dreams” or the magnet on your refrigerator “Got Gratitude?” Whatever works for that person is something that can be used.

I have a gratitude stone on my night stand that reminds me to think of the things and people I’m grateful for before I close my eyes at night.  We need more gratitude in our lives– and I do believe my dreams are sweeter because I think of who and what I appreciate as my last thoughts of the night.  What do you think about? Your to-do list? Who angered you that day? The holiday coming up?  Getting stressed out before bed doesn’t help anyone.  As parents we have to both be an example to our children and teach them directly how to think about the good stuff in our lives instead of dwelling on the negative.

What is your appreciation widget?  If you don’t have one this month is the time to get one!  After all, it’s appreciation month at all Powerful Words Member Schools! Let’s show the children what being appreciative is all about so that they too will embody the Powerful Word and share with us what they are grateful for this year! Make a list and share it with the family.  Write a thank-you note or give a thank-you gift. Start today!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dr. Robyn Silverman introduces the April Word of the Month: Appreciation

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The Powerful Word of the Month is Appreciation! All Powerful Words Member Schools will be teaching the children how to show more appreciation this month at home, at school, in the community, and in their after-school programs.  Studies show that children and teens who show more appreciation and gratitude tend to be happier, healthier, and more successful. That means this is an important and powerful month indeed!

Appreciation Quotes

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” –Dalai Lama

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”–Voltaire

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” –Buddha

There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” –Mother Theresa

“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” –Margaret Cousins

“Appreciation allows a group of many to share in the success of one. It’s only right. After all, no one gets to the top without the help of others.” –Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” –Albert Schweitzer

I would rather be able to appreciate things I can not have than to have things I am not able to appreciate.” –Elbert Hubbard