Some Rave Reviews for Powerful Words Character Development

Greetings All…they say a picture says a 1,000 words…I guess a video says a million, right?

We’ve had a bunch of Rave Reviews lately from some of our Super Star Clients!

Here’s a quick clip from Mr. Mark Kline of Kaizen Martial Arts in New Jersey!

Here’s a great clip from Mrs. Sandi Stevens McGee of Can You Say Geronimo Gymnastics in Alabama

Integrate Honesty Games into Your Class!

It’s honesty month! Master Joe Pena from Powerful Words Member School, Boston Tae Kwon Do in Massachusetts suggests integrating some honesty games into your curriculum this month!  Here are two of his favorites that are working great at his school:

  1. Dodge Ball: The children line up in two lines facing one another.  Each team has several soft balls to toss at the other team’s legs.  If you’re tagged by a ball, you’re out!  The children learn honesty in action.
  2. Noodle Games: The “It” Child is given a pool noodle.  All the children are told to run around the training floor.  If the child tags another child with the noodle, that child is out.

The other day, Master Pena told me that during the noodle game, one of the 5 year old children raised his hand and said, “so and so is not being honest. I tagged him but he’s not being honest and sitting down.”  What’s interesting here is not that the child is speaking up, but the words he’s choosing to say.  He is showing that he understands the concept of honesty and can use it correctly to illustrate a point.

Please don’t forget for one moment the impact of what you choose to teach everyday.  You are critical in your students’ development.  Through Powerful Words, your curriculum, and your creativity, you are creating leaders with character.

If you’re using any other honesty games, please let us know so we can post them up for everyone in the Powerful Words family to use!  We always loved “bowling” in which the children were the pins!  The children jump over or side step a ball or other soft object (we always used the tops of the heavy bags that slid right off the bases) that were tossed by the teachers or teen helpers.  The kids loved it.  Again, if you got tagged, you needed to be honest, and take yourself out of the game.  Last one standing was the winner.

Have a great honesty month!

Interview about Miley Cyrus: Dr. Robyn on the Dr. Drew Pinsky Show

I had the pleasure of being on Dr. Drew Pinsky‘s radio show the other day (April 29th) to talk about the Miley Cyrus issue and the impact on parents and tweens. For your convenience, I took out all the commercials and just left the actual discussion between Dr. Drew and me. I believe the interview was about 15 minutes long.

Enjoy!

click here to listen to the interview

10 Ways to Teach Teens to Show Gratitude: The First 5 Ways

10 Ways to Teach Your Teen Gratitude: The First 5 Ways

*This article was posted on Dr. Robyn’s Powerful Parenting Blog as a service to Powerful Words Family Schools. While this article is directed towards parents, as teachers and coaches, in the spirit of gratitude month, we can all learn something from it. Who doesn’t want to learn how to better understand and work with teens?

Is that what I deserve after helping you? What am I going to do with you?!”

You might hear this cry of frustration among parents of teens as they struggle with their child’s mood swings and opposition to authority. Caught between the desire to see their teens individuate and the longing for a time, only a few short years ago, when their teens used to need them, want them around, and perhaps even “worship” them a little, Mom and Dad might be dealing with their own growing pains.

“You’re ruining my life! Just leave me alone!”

On the other hand, these might just be the lines of their teens, who, with raging hormones and a natural desire to spend time with friends (and less time with you), are realizing that they’re too old to play yet are too young to decide how they’re going to run their life.

Adolescence is certainly a crazy time for both parents and teenagers. But it doesn’t have to be unpleasant. As adults, parents can think of ways to help their teens as they go through this important journey in their lives. It takes a lot of patience, determination, creativity, reflection…and yes, stress-management.

One way to make living with your teen more tolerable and enjoyable, is to help them develop a grateful outlook on life. As parents, we can’t demand that our teenagers be grateful of us or anyone else. However, we can’t simply accept an ungrateful attitude and a sense of entitlement from them either.

So what are we to do?

Here are the first 5 tips to help your teens keep the importance of gratitude in the forefront:

(1) Clarify the difference between rights and privileges. In today’s world of modern conveniences, we take many things for granted. We don’t realize that conveniences are privileges rather than our rights. For example, it’s the right of our children to be clothed, but it’s a privilege for them to wear designer jeans. It’s the right of our children to be educated, but it’s a privilege for them to have access to after-school programs and specialty classes. Our children don’t need to earn their rights but they do need to earn their privileges. Help your teens discover the blessings they have been given. This doesn’t mean lecturing– but a discussion of news stories that show people’s rights being violated or dinner conversation about stories teens who do not have many privileges will help to make this distinction more obvious.

(2) Be a model of gratitude. That means show it, recognize it, and appreciate it when you see it. When your teen demonstrates kind, thoughtful behavior, be sure to show gratitude. Don’t let sleeping dogs lie. Nothing feels better than being appreciated for the little things such as putting the plates in the sink without being asked or making the bed. Resist the temptation to say; “FINALLY, you did it– why don’t you do this all the time!” It will backfire. In addition, show gratitude for others, whether it’s a neighbor who brings in your mail or the store clerk that helps you with your groceries, when they help you or do something to make your life a little more convenient or worthwhile. Our own gratitude shows our teens that it’s important to be grateful even for both small and grand gestures.

(3) Keep a positive attitude and stop whining. It may sounds corny, but a grateful, positive outlook tends to make life, well, more positive. Every morning, find something for which to be grateful; the sun shining, the garden getting the rain it needed, the fact that your neighbor remembered to put his robe on before getting his paper. Notice something positive about your teen. Compliment him but don’t overpraise. This could be as simple as telling him how good he looks in his blue shirt or as significant as telling him how much you appreciate the hug he gives you ever morning.

(4) Acknowledge failure and frustration—both yours and your child’s. Owning one’s weakness is the first step to learning and improving. Adding humor to the situation when possible/appropriate will help lighten things too. Say- “Oops, I guess I messed up, sorry about that,” “I must have left my brain on my pillow this morning—I’ll go get it,” or “Everyone makes mistakes—we can be thankful that we have the ability to fix them.” Then, end the conversation with hope: “Thank goodness, there’s still tomorrow. We’ll do better next time.”

(5) Find the Good in the situation. Many situations which appear “bad,” often can result in something good. It may be tough, but try to be a “good-finder” and show your children how to do the same. For example, The Seemingly Bad: Your teen has to stay home on a Friday night and baby-sit her younger sibling. The Good? They find this movie on TV that was so funny that they had a blast watching it together. The Benefit? This will teach them to look for the good and not be so quick to complain.

Gratitude is a state of mind. It takes a conscious mindset and a willingness to stop and take notice of everything that makes life better, more convenient, and more fulfilling. Surround your teen with gratitude; grateful people, things to be grateful for, and models of gratitude and he’ll surely get the picture. Teens can seem like they’re not paying attention but in reality, they carry our voices and our examples everywhere they go. So go ahead. They’re watching and listening. And they want to talk to you.

Stay tuned for 10 Ways to Teach Your Teen Gratitude; Volume 2: The Next 5 Ways

Have a Powerful Week!

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Idol Gives Back: A Way to Teach Children Gratitude and Charity

*This article was posted in an altered form on Dr. Robyn’s Powerful Parenting Blog as a service to Powerful Words Schools and their participating families.

Sometimes, the media can be used for the power of good. Perhaps some of your children stayed up to watch “Idol Gives Back” last night, a star-studded charity show used as a vehicle to raise millions of dollars for several children’s charities around the world.

Since we’re focused on gratitude month in all Powerful Words family member schools, it’s important to find examples of giving and giving back. As you will see in the last week of this month’s curriculum, we will be talking about what charity and giving back has to do with gratitude. Questions such as; Can giving back feel as good as receiving? What does giving have to do with gratitude; and How do you feel inside when you give to someone and it’s appreciated? Will help the children tie gratitude to giving, not just receiving.

These questions, along with others, will help children, who are so often focused on “what’s in it for them” to focus on others who don’t have as much. This helps in several ways; (1) They recognize how blessed they are; (2) They see that while they may not have everything they want, they have what they need; (3) They can discuss the “people in need” that many are working to help and support across the world; (4) They can see powerful words such gratitude, charity, citizenship, and empathy in action; and (5) They can connect the power of giving to the powerful word, charity.

Idol Gives Back:

Charities: The Children’s Defense Fund, The Global Fund, Make It Right, Malaria No More, Save The Children, U.S. Programs and the Children’s Health Fund.

Celebrities: Annie Lennox, Celine Dion, Bono, Carrie Underwood, Brad Pitt, Robin Williams, Forest Whitaker, Billy Crystal, Dane Cook, Kiefer Sutherland, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Tisdale, Jennifer Connolly, Elliott Yamin, Fantasia and Amy Adams, Reese Witherspoon, Miley Cyrus, Mariah Carey, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Fergie, Chris Daughtry, John Legend, Snoop Dogg, Maroon 5, Heart and Gloria Estefan.

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If your students did watch some or all of Idol Gives Back, as many of them likely did, take the opportunity to talk to them about giving to charity and being grateful. Why do they think so many celebrities got involved? What stuck out for them? Tell them how you feel about giving to others and how you have giving of your time, effort, or money to assist others in need. How would they like to help? Perhaps they would like to give some of their money to charity (i.e. allowance or birthday money). Perhaps as one of their spring activities, they’d like to donate their time to a local charity. There are many things they can do, that don’t cost any money at all, that can really help others and fill the heart with gratitude.

In the spirit of gratitude, we thank you.

What we’re fighting against: 10 Ways to Help Teens Deal with Peer Pressure

This article was posted on Dr. Robyn’s Powerful Parenting Blog in an altered form as a service of Powerful Words for Powerful Words Member Schools.

After an extremely disturbing YouTube video surfaced showing 8 teens from Florida beating of another teen, parents are confused and horrified. The victim was treated for a concussion and numerous bruises and the attackers were arrested. As educators, coaches, and teachers, this is when our assistance is most needed– we can be part of the solution by helping teens and children build their character and make positive choices.

My initial assessment when I saw eight teens all working together to beat up another teen was that perhaps this was a result of negative peer pressure gone to the extreme. As positive role models, we can help to make sure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen with our students.

As we know, many teens and preteens tend to find themselves in a peer-pressured situation. Sometimes peer pressure can be positive—getting teens to raise their grades in school, take positive risks like trying out for a sport or play, and introduce themselves to new people.

Other times, peer pressure can have horrible effects on teens. Because teenagers want to be accepted and “get along” with others their own age, they tend to “go along” with the crowd even when it challenges their core values.

How can Powerful Parents and Powerful Words member schools help teens make good decisions even in the face of peer pressure? This is a place where you can shine.

(1) Start early: Begin a conversation about about making good choices with young children and talk about them often. Be sure that your students know your views about “acceptable” and “unacceptable” behavior. Are those behaviors always unacceptable or are their circumstances when they are OK? Are these behaviors OK for some people and not for others? Rules should be clear from the very beginning so that everyone is on the same page.

(2) Ask Questions: Sometimes the best thing you can do is ask questions. Again, start this early so that your students are used to it. “What would you do if…” “If your best friend was smoking, would you try it too?” “Do you know anyone who makes you feel…” When you ask questions and stay quiet, you often get more answers and make more progress than just telling your teens how you feel about certain behaviors.

(3) Role Play: It can be difficult to find the right words when you are actually in the peer pressured situation. Practicing with a trusted person before it actually happens can make it easier. Play the part of your student’s friend and help them work through what he would do or say. Do they want to make a joke? Just say no? Leave? Go get help? Role play different scenarios often until your students feel comfortable and at ease with their choices and their strategies.

(4) Talk about How to Buddy Up: There is strength in numbers. Encourage your teens to talk to a trusted friend about “buddying up” when peer pressure gets overwhelming. When teens know that their friends will be there to back them up and agree with their decisions, it can be a lot easier to make positive choices.

(5) Lay the Foundation of Character: Since teens and parents are using Powerful Words at home and through your schools, they are already way ahead of the game. Encourage them to “Drive the points home” when they leave your Powerful Words member school and ask the children how the word of the month applies to their lives. What decisions are they making each day that shows they are living according to the powerful word of the month? How does the family show it? How do friends show it? Words like compassion, acceptance, self discipline, confidence, respect, courage and trustworthiness, can certainly become a great springboard for a discussion of peer pressure, how to stay true to yourself, and how to treat others.

(6) Discuss “Spring Cleaning” in the Friend Closet: Teens grow and change. Sometimes that means that they no longer have the same interests and they are no longer heading in the same direction of some of their current friends. While it’s not OK to pick your students’ friends for them, sometimes friendships at this time of life can be confusing. When you hear them struggling with peer pressure, let them know that it’s OK to drift apart and make other friends who make them feel more comfortable.

(7) Model saying no: Show your students that it’s OK to speak your mind in an assertive and respectful way. Children need to see that their parents and role models are not “doormats.” When you show them that you can be assertive (yet not abusive or aggressive) and the result is positive, they will emulate you. If you show that you’re wishy-washy in pressured situations, they are more likely to imitate more passive “follower” behavior.

(8) Help your Children Avoid Potentially Dangerous Situations: When young people are not in situations where bad choices are being made, they are much less likely to make them. Choosing friends who share similar values, who don’t take part in controlled substances or inappropriate behavior and engage in positive after-school programs, will be some of your teen students’ best defenses. In addition, spending time in places, such as your academies, where it is positive and safe, will keep them from spending time in places that can be dangerous and negative.

(9) Foster Strong Self Worth and Confidence: Children and teens need to know that what they do “counts” for something. Praise your children for positive choices they make and recognize them for their efforts and their strength of character. Encourage them to give back to others (such as through community or charity work) so they build their sense of pride, gratitude, and citizenship. Help them to process critique so that it makes them stronger and assist them in peeling away useless criticism that stems from jealousy, closed-mindedness, or anger. Your academy can help hit this point home.

(10) Tell them that they can always count on trusted adults to help out: Help your students to realize that no matter what time of night or day, they should know that they can call on a trusted adult when they are in a bad situation, no acceptation. Have they identified that person? Is it their parent? Grandparent? Mentor? Sometimes teens find themselves at a friends house, surrounded by people or circumstances that make them feel unnerved or distressed, and they are unsure if they should call or who they should call because they wonder if they’ll get into trouble. Preteens and teens need to know that they always have someone and that they should not think twice about calling—because they will always come—even if it’s 2am.

Adults might feel that once their children round the corner to teenagerhood, they no longer have any impact. But they do. Teens carry their superheroes’ words, actions, and promises in their heads everywhere they go—even if they don’t admit it.

It’s not too late to start a discussion today. You might just be opening up one of the most meaningful and important conversations you and your teen students have ever had. Of course, you might meet some resistance—you might even see a few rolled eyes—but what Powerful educator backs down to a little challenge?

Here’s to you-

Randy Pausch: On Not Giving Up on Your Students

**This article is posted in an altered form on Dr. Robyn’s Powerful Parenting Blog as a service to all of our fabulous Powerful Words family schools throughout the world. —————————————————————————————

“Experience is what you get is when you didn’t get what you want…We send our kids out to play football or soccer or swimming or whatever it is… for indirect learning..we don’t actually want them to learn football… We send our kids out to learn much more important things; teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, etc. etc.” –Randy Pausch

The article below was in the March Powerful Words Newsletter– since Perry Bateson in Canada just reminded me about the Randy Pausch video (thank-you!), I figured I’d post it here for all of you. (The full YouTube version is over an hour– well worth it, so pull up a chair– but there is a shortened version (10 minutes) that played on Oprah for your convenience).

Aren’t you ruining my child’s self esteem?

Mrs. Phillips came to talk to me while her son, Patrick, age 8, was in class. “Patrick was upset the other day because Guro Jason corrected three times on one of his skills. When you tell him he’s doing something wrong, aren’t you ruining his self esteem?”

This story came to mind today when I was watching a video of the inspirational “last lecture” of Randy Pausch, who’ll likely die of liver cancer within the next few months. I love watching videos like these because they shine such a bright light on learning and put a fire in my belly. In fact, they make me feel like running to the helm of a ship and yelling “I’m the king of the world!”

Anyway, Professor Pausch said; “when you’re screwing up and nobody’s saying anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up…your critics are the ones who still love you and know you can.” Boy, do I agree with that–although, it’s not always easy to experience criticism and it can be excruciating to watch someone we love being critiqued.

I wrote an article on my own experience with this phenomenon. At Tufts, my advisor was known to be the toughest in my department. My dissertation was often filled with red marks and comments like “no!” “wrong!” and “don’t say this” throughout it’s 150 pages. I’m not condoning my advisor’s unforgiving approach—but rather, his practice. Would he be helping me by giving me a disingenuous pat on the back? Certainly not.

Interestingly, after I was awarded my doctorate, he did say something to me that I’ll never forget; “I was hard on you because I always knew you could do better. And you did. In fact you did so well that you became one of the very best.” I felt as though I had destroyed every brick wall placed in front of me and I was ready to take on the world.

So, what about the claim Mrs. Phillips made about her child’s self esteem? While too much criticism in the absence of praise can be detrimental, too much praise in the absence of critique is just as damaging.

Feelings of self worth, esteem, and gratification come from overcoming challenges. They derive from hard work, perseverance, self discipline, and self reliance. They don’t come from simply being the best but rather, doing one’s personal best and raising the bar higher every time we approach a skill. These feelings don’t come from our teachers and parents telling us we’re doing well when we aren’t or telling us we’re doing “the best” when we’re not putting in “our best.” They come from when others, whose opinions we value, tell us that they know we can do better and then notice it when we do.

In the end, we gain self esteem when we break through brick walls when even we wondered if we could.

As educators, coaches, teachers, and instructors, it’s our duty to inspire students to rise to their potential—not so that they necessarily become better martial artists, gymnasts, swimmers, dancers, or cheerleaders, but so they strive towards their personal best in everything they do.

Nobody ever feels satisfied while leaning against a brick wall that blocks their dream as their superheroes yell “at-a-boy!” But I’ve certainly felt the rush of achievement when I’ve barreled through brick walls, bruises and all, with my mentors and loved ones nodding their heads saying, “we knew you could do better. And you did.”

Here’s to you– for not letting our students give up on their dreams,

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