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.

confident_girl.jpg

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!

drrobynsig.jpg

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.

mother_daughter.jpg

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!

drrobynsig.jpg

Helicopter Parents; Volume 1: Why Are these Parents So Overprotective?

parent_child_a.jpg

Helicopter Parents: Overprotective parents who hover over their children and swoop in at the slightest sign of distress.

I recently received 3 different emails from teachers telling me about overbearing parents who are making it nearly impossible for their children to exercise this month’s powerful word, Self Reliance. We all want our students’ parents to be a positive part of our schools. We want them to care about their children’s education. But you asked; “Why are these parents so overprotective?”

Why are some parents so overprotective?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Parents are overprotective for all different reasons. Here are a few:

1. Need for control: Parents can not control the terrorists. They can not control the kidnappers or the pedophiles. They can, however, control how their children spend their time and of course, with whom.

2. Bigger, Better, Faster: Children who are learning skills are usually slower and less adept than their parents. Therefore, it’s not surprising for parents to feel that “It will be faster, bigger, bolder, and just plain better if I take charge.”

3. Fear the failure: These Moms and Dads can not stand by and watch their child feel inadequate, unprepared, or miserable in any way. It is too heartbreaking. They feel it is their responsibility to protect their child from these negative feelings.

4. Desire to live vicariously: These Moms and Dads spend their time doing a large amount of their child’s work and looking for acceptance and approval for their own performance. They throw themselves into every activity their child does and take it personally when their child does not succeed.

5. Entitlement: These parents are constantly checking to see how you are treating their child in comparison to others. They keep their eyes on everyone else’s plate. They believe that their child should get more of your time, additional energy from your staff, and lots of free “extras.” If it will help their child, they will ask for it.

6. Need to keep them young: Some parents don’t like the idea of their children growing up. When children are dependent on their parents, parents can feel needed and wanted.

It takes a very patient, secure parent to allow their children to employ self reliance. It can be hard to let go. This month, be sensitive and encouraging to both parents and students. Children who are self reliant are confident in their own skills and therefore, are more apt to go after their dreams.

Have a Powerful Day!

drrobynsig.jpg

 

 

I did it! Teaching Children the Rewards of Self Discipline

You and your clients know several tips on helping children learn self discipline since you read it in the Dear Dr. Robyn column in your Powerful Words package this month. But I thought I would expand on one of the tips (number 4) in the following article on children and self discipline, in particular: “Help your children recognize the rewards of self discipline.”

child_medal.jpg

I did it! Teaching Children the Rewards of Self Discipline

By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

**Note: This article appears in an altered form for parents on Dr. Robyn’s Blog for Powerful Parents.

The rewards for self discipline go well beyond gold stars. The rewards of self discipline are both external and internal.

An external self discipline reward is one that is provided by someone else. For example, when a child uses self discipline to study for a test, the external reward might be a high grade. If a child disciplines herself to practice gymnastics, swimming, or martial arts, the reward might be a trophy, ribbon, or new belt rank. These rewards signify that other people noticed her gains.

An internal reward is one that manifests from inside. Only the child can muster up this reward. For example, when a child disciplines herself to work complete an art project, her internal reward might be a feeling of accomplishment, pride, or relief. When a child uses self discipline to prepare for auditions at her all-star cheerleading academy or for a belt test at her martial arts academy and she does well, her internal reward might be a feeling of value, achievement, or self worth.

We want to help children understand both types of rewards. Both can be motivating and they are often intertwined. A trophy or medal can be interlinked with feelings of pride and a high grade can be linked to feelings of accomplishment. But this is not always the case.

As the number of external rewards increases, the feelings of pride and accomplishment do not always increase. Be careful! Parents who give too many outside rewards such as toys, treats, or money, may find that their value decreases over time. Similarly, instructors who provide too much “empty praise” or “over” give symbols of achievement when they are not truly earned (belt rank, higher ranked class, ribbons, stars), again, may find that they lose their meaning after a while. Nothing can buy a feeling of pride.

Since your students look to you for a reaction—show them that you’re proud of their commitment, effort, perseverance, and determination rather than just the trophy, grade, or medal. I remember talking to someone about this once and our discussion had to do with the following;

 

“Let’s say that a child usually runs a mile in say, 10 minutes. He enters a race. He’s determined. He practices. He runs the mile in his fastest time, 9 minutes and 30 seconds. And he comes in flat last and receives a certificate of participation. Are you proud? Disappointed? Now, the same child enters another race. He doesn’t practice and he’s not that determined. He doesn’t put in much effort. He runs the race in 11 minutes and 50 seconds. He comes in first place and wins the blue ribbon. Are you proud? Disappointed? Let’s put in a third scenario now—the same child enters a last race. He has his eye on the trophy. He trains and he is determined. He believes that winning is the most important part of competing. He runs the race in 9 minutes flat. He wins the whole thing. What we come to find out is that he has switched his competitor’s running shoes with ones that are a size too big and he is taking performance enhancing drugs. Are you proud? Disappointed?

Are we teaching the child to simply be “the best” in comparison to others or to do “his best” no matter what the circumstances? Do we teach the child to continually improve his personal best through self discipline and perseverance, gage effort by looking to his neighbor, or go “for the gold” at all costs just because it’s shiny?

Don’t get me wrong–there is absolutely nothing wrong with earning an external reward through effort, perseverance, and self discipline. I kept many of my own gymnastics, swimming, diving, horseback-riding, dramatic, and academic awards until my mother told me to clear them out of her basement a year ago. Just make sure to highlight that the external is a symbol of your child’s positive character. Otherwise, the external reward often gets far too much attention.

That being said; help your child to recognize the internal reward that comes with achievement. For example,

  • Instead of saying “good job on getting a high score on that test,” (external reward) say, “You must be very proud of the effort you put in to prepare for your test. (Internal reward) Congratulations—it certainly paid off! How do you feel?” or
  • “Congratulations on running your fastest mile! You really showed great perseverance when you kept going even though the other runners were in front of you. How does it feel to accomplish such a tough goal? What do you think that says about your character?”
  • You really showed us all what determination looks like! You must have some fire in your belly! How does it feel to work so hard and achieve your goal?

Entering into a dialogue that brings the internal reward to the forefront will help the child connect the good feelings to the effort—rather than to the external rewards– which will come and go and lose importance as time marches onward. We certainly don’t want children going after goals just so that they can collect trophies (in what ever form they might be) that may simply collect dust. Trophies are meaningless without the strength of character, pain of sacrifice, and pride of achievement that it took to accomplish the goal.

Ultimately, highlighting what it took to achieve the goal rather than the external reward will help your children recognize what it takes to be successful and they’ll want to do it again and again.

Have a strong end to your February!

Instructors, coaches, and teachers! Something new! Do you “Digg” (like) the article you read here on The official Powerful Words Blog? If so, please press on the “Digg” icon at the bottom of the article or any other article you like. Thanks! It will help us to know which articles are most helpful and it may also help to put these articles into the limelight– which means more positive exposure for all of your schools. Again, thank you in advance!

drrobynsig.jpg