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-

Nashville Update #2

Greetings from the Glazer Kennedy Marketing Super Conference!  Wow…what a day!

Today’s keynote speaker was none other than Gene Simmons – This man is brilliant.  I can honestly say that I was quite literally in AWE of what he’s accomplished and how much of a REAL, REGULAR GUY he really is.  I wish you could have been here.  It was like getting an MBA in 90 minutes.

Also, as promised, here’s a great opportunity for a few of our fast acting clients – I enjoyed some time with Dean Killingbeck from New Customers Now.  He runs some really cool promotions to help small businesses (like yours) to increase their lead flow and step up your enrollments.

 Dean K

This is Dean Killingbeck and I first thing this morning!
Dean told me he’s taking on a few more clients right now and I thought this would be a no-brainer for many of you…so…if you’d like to speak with him personally, please drop me an e-mail or comment on this post and I’ll forward your information to Dean and he can give you all the details.  You’ve gotta see some of the promotions he does…they’re AWESOME…and actually quite inexpensive!
Alright – it’s time for me to go to bed…we’ve got a LONG DAY tomorrow – lotsa learning!
And don’t forget, if you’re in New England, Dr. Robyn will be appearing once again as Rosie Alvarez in Bye, Bye Birdie in Randolph, MA
Have a Powerful day!
Jason M. Silverman

Teachers as Role Models: Seven Ways to make a Positive Impact

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They want to be just like you. Are you being a positive role model?
Seven Ways to Be a Powerful Role Model
Note: This article appears in an altered form on Dr. Robyn’s Powerful Parenting Blog as a service of the Powerful Words Character Program for member schools.

A role model is a person whose behavior is imitated by others. Of course, there are both good role models and bad role models. There’s even the counterintuitive anti-role model, discussed in today’s Boston Globe, who behaves so badly that s/he serves as a good example of what NOT to do.

We all hope that children have good, strong role models who possess the kind of qualities that make our students want to be (and become) better people. While there is some variation in every teacher’s definition of what it means to be a good person, the following 7 characteristics of a positive role model remain constant.

Positive role models;

(1) Model positive choice-making: Little eyes are watching and little ears are listening. When it comes to being a role model, you must be aware that the choices you make don’t only impact you but also the children who regard you as their superhero. Someday, they will be in the same predicament and think to themselves, “What did s/he do when s/he was in the same situation?” When you are a role model it’s not enough to tell your charges the best choices to make. You must put them into action yourself.

(2) Think out loud: When you have a tough choice to make, allow the children to see how you work through the problem, weight the pros and cons, and come to a decision. The process of making a good decision is a skill. A good role model will not only show a child which decision is best, but also how they to come to that conclusion. That way, the child will be able to follow that reasoning when they are in a similar situation.

(3) Apologize and admit mistakes: Nobody’s perfect. When you make a bad choice, let those who are watching and learning from you know that you made a mistake and how you plan to correct it. This will help them to understand that (a) everyone makes mistakes; (b) it’s not the end of the world; (c) you can make it right; and (d) you should take responsibility for it as soon as possible. By apologizing, admitting your mistake, and repairing the damage, you will be demonstrating an important yet often overlooked part of being a role model.

(4) Follow through: We all want children to stick with their commitments and follow through with their promises. However, as adults, we get busy, distracted, and sometimes, a bit lazy. To be a good role model, we must demonstrate stick-to-itiveness and self discipline. That means; (a) be on time; (b) finish what you started; (c) don’t quit; (d) keep your word; and (e) don’t back off when things get challenging. When role models follow through with their goals, it teaches children that it can be done and helps them adopt an “if s/he can do it, so can I” attitude.

(5) Show respect: You may be driven, successful, and smart but whether you choose to show respect or not speaks volumes about the type of attitude it takes to make it in life. We always tell children to “treat others the way we want to be treated” and yet, may not subscribe to that axiom ourselves. Do you step on others to get ahead? Do you take your spouse, friends, staff or colleagues for granted? Do you show gratitude or attitude when others help you? In this case, it’s often the little things you do that make the biggest difference in how children perceive how to succeed in business and relationships.

(6) Be well rounded: While we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin, it’s important to show children that we can be more than just one thing. Great role models aren’t just “teachers.” They’re people who show curiosities and have varied interests. They’re great learners and challenge themselves to get out of their comfort zones. You may be a teacher who’s also a student of martial arts or yoga, a great chef, a good sportsman, a father and a treasured friend. You may be a coach who’s a gifted dancer, a solid rock climber, a celebrated singer, a mother and a curious photographer. When children see that their role models can be many things, they will learn that they don’t need to pigeon-hole themselves in order to be successful.

(7) Demonstrate confidence in who you are: Whatever you choose to do with your life, be proud of the person you’ve become and continue to become. It may have been a long road and you may have experienced bumps along the way, but it’s the responsibility of a role model to commemorate the lessons learned, the strength we’ve amassed, and the character they’ve developed. We can always get better, however, in order for children to celebrate who they are, their role models need to show that confidence doesn’t start “5 pounds from now,” “2 more wins on top of this one,” or “1 more possession than I have today.” We must continue to strive while being happy with how far we’ve come at the same time.

While it may seem like a great deal of pressure to be a positive role model; nobody is expecting you to be superhuman. We certainly wouldn’t expect that behavior from the children who are looking to us for answers and guidance—nor would we want them to expect that kind of flawless behavior from themselves or others. You can only do your best. And, if you mess up today, you can always refer back to tip #3 and try again tomorrow. Good role models earn multiple chances from the children who believe in them and know they can do anything if they simply put their mind to it.

Here’s to a Powerful Week!

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Taking good risks: Teaching courage by example

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Teaching by example. We talk about it often. But how do we teach courage when adult life can often appear mundane or monotonous? Sometimes, we just have to do something out of the ordinary.

Just as our coach did with us, when I work with my coaching clients on envisioning their best year for 2008, I ask them to “name their year.” For confidentiality sake, I won’t divulge what my clients have come up with but I’ll let you know my own personal label for 2008; The Year of Taking Risks. Not stupid risks (well, I’ll certainly try not to make those) but risks that push me. In keeping with that theme, each week, I make sure that I do something to get me out of my comfort zone.

We’re all so busy. Who has time for risk-taking? But in order to evolve, it’s important to put yourself out there, don’t you think? Adulthood can get a little too comfortable and predictable—and that makes us get stale.

I know Jason told our Powerful Words Family that I earned the part of Rosie in my community theater’s rendition of “Bye Bye Birdie.” In fact, this weekend is opening weekend and last night was opening night. It’s thrilling and scary and fun all rolled up into each performance. Many of the responses we received were of surprise or shock– who knew? It seems so “out of character,” right? But I figure, sometimes out of character means strengthening character.

It was only a few short month’s ago that I finished playing the part of Joy, the wicked stepsister, in Cinderella. Performing in both plays was part of taking risks—not just because I tried out for the plays, but because of what I need to do with the characters to make them interesting.

Perhaps like many of you, I consider myself a pretty focused, happy, friendly, straight-laced person. As adults, we often find ourselves needing to be pretty serious during the typical day—and we loose the silliness in our life. Even working with kids doesn’t always save us from being, well, a bit mundane.

Landing the part of Joy in Cinderella meant I needed to be everything opposite of my norm; miserable, ridiculous, confrontational, over-the-top and yes, absolutely silly. When I first started rehearsals, I remember feeling uncomfortable. The director pushed me and I started taking risks. It was hard to get out of rehearsals without laughing a good belly laugh at the craziness of it all. I found the humor in Joy, and more importantly, it helped me to find the humor in myself.

Rosie has helped me uncover another side of myself that can sometimes be squashed in the day to day. Yes, she can be brazen and sassy, but I’m referring more to what it took for me to play the part. Courage. The role calls for a lot of singing—sometimes being left on stage for minutes at a time while the spotlight focuses just on one person; me. The opportunity reminded me about putting confidence and courage into action. We all talk about doing these things—but do we really challenge ourselves?

It seems to me, and I hope you agree, that our students have this same opportunity when they join your academies. Perhaps in their regular life they’re shy, or they’re perceived as “not the type” to show up at a school like yours. You know who I’m talking about, right? At first, they might seem timid or unsure of themselves. But over time, something clicks and they aren’t just going through the motions anymore. The activity gets into their blood, and the process brings out a side of them that they might not have even known existed. What a gift.

Let’s encourage our students, staff, and ourselves to take the kind of risks that allow them to uncover sides of themselves that they haven’t seen for a while—or maybe even a side that they never knew existed. This makes us better students and teachers and more dynamic, more interesting people.

Here’s to doing something out-of-character that builds character!

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Birthday Specials for Everyone!

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Happy Birthday…to Me!!! Yup, it’s that time again – I’m excited to say that I’m another year better, another year smarter, and another year closer to reaching all of my goals!

As many of you know, I always like to GIVE a birthday present on my birthday to others…with Gratitude month coming up shortly, it helps me to stay focused on how much we appreciate the amazing people we consider the Powerful Words Family.

So…this year, I’ve got a couple of goodies for you – feel free to take advantage of all of them or just one of ‘em!

1.) a FREE Hardcover Edition of The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hanson and Robert Allen.(value $23 + shipping) If you’d like me to send this to you, all I ask is that you send us an e-mail telling us what your favorite thing about POWerful Words is and exactly how it’s helped you to make your school more successful. If you’d feel more comfortable just recording it on the phone, here’s the number to dial – 1-800-609-9006 x9456

2.) 100 FREE Powerful Words “Thank You” Post Cards $59.97 value (perfect for Gratitude Month) with the purchase of any POWerful Words Banner:

Click Here to buy a Powerful Words – Your Academy Changes Lives Banner –

Click Here to buy a Teacher Appreciation Week Banner –

3.) Buy 500 Postcards, get 500 Postcards FREE!

Click Here if you live in the USA

Click Here if you don’t live in the USA

4.) Free Marketing Coaching Session (Value $500) with upgrade from Gold to Platinum Level Membership (to take advantage…contact me at 877-769-3799)

5.) Free Million Dollar Idea – check out this youtube video that one of our member schools did today…this video is like a mini-commercial floating around on the internet bringing traffic to their site and interested students to their doors – I can’t wait to see your video!

Alright folks – this offer is good until Monday, March 24, 2008 because I know most people won’t be checking their e-mails over this holiday weekend.

Dr. Robyn is whisking me away to a nice dinner and then a show at a comedy club – I’ve always felt that laughter is a gift in and of itself.

I hope this year is bringing you closer to all of your hopes and dreams!

Warm regards,

Jason

Jason M. Silverman

Executive Director/Marketing Director

POWerful Words Character Development