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

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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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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-

Parents Choice Writing Award And Parenting Publication Awards

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I couldn’t wait to share the good news with all of you…

As many of you know, I am a proud columnist for Bay State Parent magazine, a highly praised monthly in New England. We just received notification that Bay State Parent was designated a “2008 Parents’ Choice Approved” award winner in a national magazine contest, sponsored by the Parents Choice Foundation last week.

The non-profit Parents’ Choice Foundation honors magazines that are entertaining, edifying, and that pass on accurate information to parents and/or children.

The judges wrote: “Regular features in this free Massachusetts regional parenting publication include Family Calendar of Events, Fun, Educational Activities, Family Health, and Adoption Insights. Articles are written for parents, by parents and professionals. Supported by family friendly advertisers.”

Contributors to the award-winning magazine entries were: Dr. Robyn Silverman, Alyson Aiello, Dr. Kerri Augusto, Amy Benoit, Robin Burke, Rose Cafasso,
Leslie Castillo, Michelle Xiarhos Curran, Antoinette Donovan, Lynn Jolicoeur,
Jennifer Lefferts, Kate M. Jackson, Jane Mackay, Sue Lovejoy, Jennifer Luccarelli, Sarah MacDonald, Marguerite Paolino, Elizabeth C. Regan, Donna Roberson, Susan Spencer, Tim Sullivan, & Donna White

Other 2008 winners that received the same designation include: “Sports
Illustrated for Kids, Sesame Street Magazine, and Highlights magazine”

Previous winners have included: Adoptive Families magazine, Family Fun and Ranger Rick magazines.

Judging: In the 2008 Parents’ Choice Magazine Awards numerous families and teachers
pour over many publications, page-by-page, carefully considering the content and appraising the appeal of the publications. Deliberations and final selections were conducted by an esteemed panel of judges. The magazine awards have been given out annually since 1995. The foundation, established in 1978, also reviews books, toys, music, television, software, videogames, Web sites, and magazines for children and/or families of all
achievements and backgrounds.

This news comes on the heals of Bay State’s recent 16 awards from Parenting Publications of America: From design to editorial awards, Bay State won 16 awards less than 1 month ago from Parenting Publications of America. Included in those awards, I was so proud and honored to be selected as the Silver Award winner for my series on Fitting In and Standing Out on Body Image and dealing with media pressures in America. The judges said, “Timely and informative, these columns contain the ideal mix of fact and narrative.” I was also proud to be part of the Bronze Awards given to Bay State Parent for Overall Excellence in Reporting and Overall General Excellence.

 

And finally, Bay State Parent was awarded Best Parenting Publication in North America: Suburban Newspaper of America named Bay State Best Parenting Publication for the third time. The judges wrote: “Good job in covering parenting issues that are current.” Writers who contributed to the issue included: Kerri Augusto, Amy Benoit, Robin Burke, Rosemary Cafasso, Lindsay Crone, Marta Kowalczyk, Jennifer Lefferts, Sue Lovejoy, Jane Mackay, Maria Marien, Marguerite Paolino, Dr. Robyn Silverman, & calendar editor Carrie Wattu.

*Remember, every time this kind of award-winning news gets out, the good name and great schools using Powerful Words comes along with it! Thank you for being part of our family.

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Are Children Showing Self Reliance at Your School?

A version of this article is on Dr. Robyn’s Powerful Parenting Blog for parents who attend your schools and use the Powerful Words Character System to help their children thrive. This blog is a free service of Powerful Words Character Development.

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Because it’s Self Reliance month for Powerful Words, it’s important that we provide children with opportunities to show self reliance at our schools. Perhaps they have been relying on their parents (or their teachers?) to do some things that they can do on their own. What are these things?

Are they able to:

  • Pack their own bags for class?
  • Remember all their equipment?
  • Do their own Powerful Words projects?
  • Hand in their Powerful Words projects?
  • Hang up their own jackets?
  • Tie their own shoes?
  • Get ready for your class on their own?
  • Stay quiet before class without being reminded?
  • Work on their skills in class responsibly even when your back is turned?
  • Lead the class in stretching or skills?
  • Practice for class, a test, or an event?
  • Clean up after themselves?
  • Remember all their stuff when they leave their school

Encourage your students to take some time to ask themselves; “how have I shown self reliance today?” It’s this kind of focus and questioning that will help them to take a hard look at their behaviors, take some risks, make some changes, and become more self reliant in the long run.

We’d love to hear how your students are showing self reliance at your schools. Tell us about it!

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Powerful Kids! Student applies Powerful Words to Goals

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Your Powerful Words lessons have far-reaching affects. They help children learn that they can do anything if they just apply some hard work, perseverance, confidence, discipline, and goal-setting! Here’s a great story about one Powerful Kid who learned that if she sees it and believes it, she can achieve it!

When Powerful Words are applied, children can do anything!

At Andrew Lesmerisis’ Martial Arts School in Maine, we see the results of Powerful Words on the way his student and his student’s Mom thinks and acts.

Here’s the story:

Karrah’s mom mentioned to her instructor, Mr. Andrew, that her daughter was doing amazingly well on the swim team and that she was very proud of her.

“The conversation reminded me of Karrah’s POWerful Words project when our word of the month was Vision (October). In that project Karrah stated that she had a goal to win a first place ribbon in swimming. Karrah wrote that her vision included seeing her number posted to the first place spot on the score-board and hearing her family cheering for her.”

Karrah has managed to blow her “vision” goal out of the water (as you can see from the picture above) by winning 8 first place ribbons, 8 second place ribbons, 1 third place ribbon, 3 fourth place ribbons and 2 fifth place ribbons. Not only did she exceed her goal, but the times listed on the ribbons kept improving as the season continued.

When asked how the Powerful Word Project on Vision impacted Karrah and her goal, Karrah explained; “It gave me the confidence to keep working hard and stay focused on my goal.”

According to her mother “Karrah likes to be challenged, if something is easy, she doesn’t like it.” Her martial arts instructor sees this characteristic in every class. “Karrah is always pushing herself to be better and strives to be the best that she can be.”

Congratulations, Mr. Lesmerisis, and to your student, Karrah!

Do you have a story about a Powerful Kid at your school? Please send the story and the picture and we’ll post it up! Please remember– these stories would be GREAT for your town paper as well.  They are always looking for ways to celebrate their local citizens.  Send them in!

Keep doing the great work you do!

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Helicopter Parents; Volume 2: 4 Consequences of Being Overprotective

This article is Part 2 of a series on Helicopter Parenting. Part 1, “Why are they so overprotective” can be found here.

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What are the negative effects of helicopter parenting?

By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

While overprotective parents want the very best for their children, in the long run, they might be doing more harm than good. After all, childhood is supposed to be a time to make mistakes, learn from them and grow to be independent and self reliant. Without this training ground, adulthood can be a very rude awakening.

Harmful effects of helicopter parenting include the following:

(1) Undermining children’s confidence: No one can argue that confidence is one of the most important predictors of success. It is the foundation of self reliance and lays the groundwork for commitment, perseverance, goal achievement, and courage. When parents take the reins, they do not allow their children to learn how to take charge of their own lives. The repercussions can be long lasting.

(2) Instilling fear of failure: If a child is learning that success is always dependent on the help of Mommy and Daddy, he can become fearful that failure is imminent if he tries to go it alone. Clearly no parent wants to see their child fail. However, if a child is continually shielded from disappointment and inadequacy, he is being denied the chance to learn how to persevere.

(3) Stunting growth and development: Since helicopter parents are essentially “babying” their children, it’s not surprising that kids of smothering mothers can be less mature than their self reliant counterparts. Studies have shown that these children lack some of the knowledge to negotiate what they need, solve their own problems, stay safe, and interact in close quarters with others.

(4) Raising anxiety levels: Research has shown that parents who consistently judge their own self worth by their children’s success report feeling more sad and having a more negative self image than parents who did not engage in this behavior. Interestingly, parents’ anxiety levels and dissatisfaction with life has shown a marked increase during the past twenty years as parents have become increasingly involved in their children’s lives.

As you know, it’s self reliance month for Powerful Words schools. While we all want parents to have a healthy and positive interest in their children and their education, it’s important to help parents understand that too much participation can be a detriment to their children’s development of self reliance and self confidence.

Parents and educators need to partner with each other for the good of the children– and this, inevitably, will allow our students to become thriving, self-assured leaders in life.

Until next time…Have a Powerful Month!

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