Teaching Children about Leap Year 2008


We love Leap Year because it gives us just one more day to go to our favorite activities and one more day to use our POWerful Words! No matter what kind of POWerful Words school your child attends– have your child impress his/her instructors or teachers by saying; “I’m so glad it’s a Leap Year because it gives me another day to learn from you!”

Teaching Children about Leap Year 2008

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Parents have been asking about how to teach their children about leap year– so here are the answers to some of your child’s most frequently asked questions:

What is a leap year?

A leap year is a year that has a longer February than normal. In a leap year, February has 29 days in it instead of 28.

Why do we need a leap year?

Leap year began in order to align the earth’s rotation around the sun with our seasons. It takes approximately 365.2422 days for the earth to travel around the sun in one year. We know that a typical year has 365 days in it—but as you can see from the number 365.2422, a year is not exactly 365 days! So, in order to get “lined up”, almost every four years, we give one extra day to account for the additional time the earth takes to travel around the sun.

Trivia question: How long is 365.2444 days?

Answer: 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 46 seconds

When is Leap Year?

This year, 2008, is a Leap Year. It occurs every 4 years (with some exceptions every few hundred years). It’s celebrated on February 29th– a day that only occurs in a Leap Year.

How do you calculate a Leap Year?

How do you calculate a leap year? According to the Gregorian calendar, there are 3 rules to calculate if it is leap year or not a leap year.

Rule 1: Leap year is divisible by 4

Rule 2: Exception to Rule 1, any year divisible by 100 such as 1900 or 1800

Rule 3: Exception to Rule 2, any year divisible by 400 is a leap year such as 2000

Fun for the Kids:

How many leap years old am I?

How many leap years old is Grandma/Grandpa/Mom/Dad?

How many leap years old is my school?

Did you know? Leap Year Traditions

In Ireland, every February 29th, women were allowed to ask for a man in marriage. A man was fined if he refused the proposal.

Leap Year has been the traditional time that women can propose marriage. In many of today’s cultures, it is okay for a woman to propose marriage to a man. Society doesn’t look down on such women. However, that hasn’t always been the case. When the rules of courtship were stricter, women were only allowed to pop the question on one day every four years. That day was February 29th.” Read more about it.

Leap Year Activities for Kids

Making a leap year frog out of a paper plate:

Pin the Crown on the Frog Prince :

Musical Lilly Pads:

Frog Hunt and other Frog Games:

Make a Frog Bean Bag

Paper Frog Puppet alternative:

Frog CupCakes

Cullin’s Video on leap year for young children:

Have a POWerful Extra Leap Year Day!



Sneezing Season! How can I keep my child from getting sick?


Sneezin’ Season!
Parenting message boards are asking (and my email box is full!)—
how do I keep my kid from getting sick again this year?
Robyn J.A. Silverman, PhD

As you probably heard, the CDC has suggested that every child over 6 months old get the flu vaccine. I know, you’re probably thinking…”Wait! It’s enough! I don’t want to think about this right now!”

Your children likely just finished school vacation– and that’s supposed to mean…back to school, right? But during this time of year, my email box is full and the parenting message boards are teeming with questions about how to keep the children from getting sick this year since many of their friends are sick in bed!

We’ve all read about “Little Mary” who stared sneezing out of nowhere and “Joe Jr.” who came home from school with his head throbbing and his nose running leading to 3 days of missed school. The parenting message boards have a lot of questions so let’s get some answers!

How to deal…

(1) Diagnose the problem: Are we battling colds or the flu or something else entirely? It is often difficult to distinguish between the common cold and influenza (the flu). Both respiratory infections are caused by viruses and many of the symptoms seem to overlap. However, while the cold is often more mild with symptoms gradually becoming more apparent, the flu seems to come on full force and tends to be more severe. How can you tell the difference between the two conditions? Here is what the doctors say!

a. Flu: Feelings of weakness and exhaustion, fever, headache, achy all over, dry cough, and chest discomfort.

b. Cold: Runny nose, sneezing, or stuffy head, sore throat, mild aches and pains, mild to moderate productive cough

c. Something else: Is it allergies? Indoor and outdoor allergies can look a lot like a cold. Is your child worried about something? Children can give themselves a bellyache when they are scared or upset. Other times, your children might be “playing sick” in order to get out of going to school. Use your character education program to talk to your kids about honesty, integrity, courage, and friendship. Be available to your children and ask them if they are nervous about something that is happening at school. Keep the lines of communication open so that the children feel that they can come to you for support, goal-setting, and problem-solving rather than avoiding the problem all together.

(2) Be kind to yourself and to your kids: While our brains sometimes say, “keep going” when we don’t feel well, The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends you stay home! Children (and even adults!) need to know when to listen to their bodies and respect the need to take care of themselves. (Of course, when we talk about respect in our families, we often forget to talk about respecting ourselves—we are typically talking about respecting others, aren’t we? Add “respecting yourself” to your character education discussions!) Make sure that your family is not around smokers or second-hand smoke. Keep cold or flu sufferers hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and eating clear soups to loosen mucus and prevent dehydration. Gargle with salt water and use saline nose drops to loosen nasal mucus and moisten nasal massages.

(3) Keep ‘em healthy all year ‘round! Make sure that your whole family is taking top notch vitamins and eating right. Children are often picky eaters, teens can eat a lot of junk, and parents can often skip meals due to rushing around—vitamins and healthy snacks might be a good answer to ensure that your family is getting what they need.

(4) Get immunized: The federal panel recommended on Wednesday, February 27, that all children get vaccinated against the flu. Injectible vaccines and nasal spray vaccines are available in many towns and cities– ask your doctor where to find a place near you. Pregnant women and individuals with weak immune systems should not receive flu shots. Consult your doctor to inquire if flu inoculation is appropriate for you and your family.

(5) Don’t get too close: The American Lung Association recommends the following to keep your family from getting sick this year:

a. Avoid close contact with people who have a cold—at least during the first 72 hours when they are most contagious.

b. Encourage hand washing! Keep mutual toys clean and make sure that everyone who has a cold or has been playing with someone who has a cold washes their hands.

c. Keep fingers away from the eyes and nose to avoid the spread of infection

d. Keep an extra towel in the bathroom for those who are healthy so that they are not sharing dirty towels with someone who is sick

e. Keep your house humid to keep sinuses from drying out. A simple way to do this is to use a humidifier.

f. Encourage anyone who is sick to cover their mouth when they sneeze or cough and to wash their hands often!


Good Luck! Let’s keep ’em healthy so that they can stay active in all the powerful activities they love!



Top Students: Does Self Discipline Trump IQ in Children and Teens?


Today I received the following question about children’s self discipline vs smarts from Mary in Charlotte, North Carolina:

“I have a quick question–since the Powerful Word this month is Self Discipline, my husband got into this discussion about our son (age 14) and daughter (age 11) who have very different study habits. We were just wondering, can kids with great self discipline do better in school than kids who are the smartest?”

Hi Mary-

Here’s a quick answer to your quick question!

People often point the finger at unprepared teachers, boring lesson plans, inadequate books, and overpopulated classes when it comes to student underachievement.

Interestingly, research has actually shown that:

  • Self discipline predicts academic performance more robustly than did IQ.
  • Self discipline has also predicted which students would improve their grades over the school year.
  • American children, in particular, have trouble making choices that require them to sacrifice short term gratification for long-term gain, such as academic success.
  • Compared with more impulsive peers, highly self disciplined 8th graders earned higher GPAs and achievement test scores, were more likely to gain admission to selective high schools, had fewer school absences, spent more time on homework, watched less TV, and started their homework earlier in the day.
  • Highly self disciplined adolescents outperformed their more impulsive peers on every academic performance variable in one study, including report-card grades, standardized achievement test schools, admission to a competitive high school, and attendance.

As you can see, the Powerful Word, self discipline, has long lasting and important effects! So encourage your children to attend those character-based Power Chats with open ears and continue your family meetings!

Just a quick note: I’m so glad that your family is benefiting so much from the curriculum. We’re all very impressed that you and your spouse are engaging in discussions about the powerful word of the month. Congratulations on making character development a family affair!

Keep your questions and comments coming! Thanks, Mary!


Reference: Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents (Duckworth & Seligman)

I did it! Teaching Children the Rewards of Self Discipline

You 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.”
I did it! Teaching Children the Rewards of Self Discipline

By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

The rewards for self discipline go well beyond gold stars. We need to teach our children about both kinds of rewards; 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. Nothing can buy a feeling of pride.

Since your children 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. Your recognition of the internal reward as well as the external reward will help your child to understand your values.

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’s determined. He believes that winning is the most important thing. 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 grade 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?”

Entering in on 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 will 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 Wonderful Finish to your February!


Parents! Something new! Do you “Digg” (like) the article you read here on Dr. Robyn’s Powerful Parent Blog? If so, please press on the “Digg” icon at the bottom of the article or any other article you like. Thanks! We’d appreciate it since it will help us to know which articles are most helpful and it may also help to bring the best and most “dugg” articles to other parents who may otherwise not see them. Again, thank you in advance!



Hey Sugar, Sugar! How much sugar is in my child’s juice?

Since writing several articles on how much sugar children are eating or drinking, I’ve received additional questions from POWerful Parents regarding this topic. Specifically, “how much sugar is in juice?” “how many grams of sugar are in a teaspoon?” and “how much juice can my child have in a day?” Let’s answer these questions today. Please comment directly below the article on DrRobynsBlog.com because if you have a question other parents probably have the same question– as you can see here!


Hey Sugar, Sugar! How much sugar is in my child’s juice? How much juice can I give to my child?

By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

How much sugar is in juice?

It can be confusing. After all, juice comes from fruit and fruit is good for us. It’s one of our food groups! Many juices have antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals—so shouldn’t we give our kids a lot of it? In this case, too much of a good thing is not a good thing.

The amount of sugar in juice depends on the brand and type of fruit juice we’re discussing. For example;

  • Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice and Apple and Eve Clear Apple Juice contain 22 grams of sugar per 8 ounce glass. Since four grams of sugar is in a teaspoon then an 8 ounce glass of orange juice would have 5 ½ teaspoons of natural sugar in it
  • Juicy Juice has 26 grams of sugar in an 8 ounce glass, which means that it has 6 ½ teaspoons of natural sugar in it.
  • Minute Maid Fruit Medley (which does have some added ingredients) has 32 grams of sugar per 10 ounce bottle. That’s 8 teaspoons of sugar.

These juices say 100% juice and therefore do not add additional sugar—fruit is simply sweet and contains “fruit sugar” (n : a simple sugar found in honey and in many ripe fruits [syn: fructose, levulose, laevulose]).

The medical world is quick to remind us that “it’s much healthier to eat the fruit rather than drink the juice. For example, a 12-ounce glass of orange juice, which is the juice of two to three oranges, has about 180 calories . But eating one orange is only 80 or 90 calories and it does more to fill you up.” (University of California, San Francisco, Children’s Hospital)

How many grams of sugar are in a teaspoon, tablespoon, and cup?

According to the Sugar Association, these are the number of grams in a:


Teaspoon brown sugar (packed)


Teaspoon white sugar


Tablespoon brown sugar (packed)


Tablespoon white sugar


Cup brown sugar (packed)


For more information on sugar grams to teaspoons (and sugar in common children’s foods) please read my article, Pour Some Sugar on It: How Much Sugar is in My Child’s Food?

What should I look out for when giving our children juice?

First, follow the guidelines for fruit juice consumption (below), second, don’t make a habit of giving children sweetened fruit juices, and third, remember that many of these individual juice bottles contain more than one serving. As you read in my article Sugar Wars: How much sugar is your family drinking?, these drinks can have as much sugar in them as soda.

For example:

Minute Maid Cran-Grape

38 grams per 8 ounce serving/almost 10 teaspoons of sugar. High fructose corn syrup and sugar added

Tropicana Grape Juice Beverage

38 grams per 8 ounce serving/almost 10 teaspoons of sugar. High fructose corn syrup added. *Individual bottle is 15.2 ounces!

Try some alternatives such as flavored seltzer or plain old water. Other alternatives are outlined in my previous Sugar Wars article. Some fruit juice companies also provide some alternative. For example, Tropicana offers an alternative called “fruit squeeze” which is fruit juice flavored water with only 4 grams of sugar per serving.

How much juice should/could my child drink in a day?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’s Guidelines for Fruit Juice Consumption in Children:

  • Juice should not be introduced into the diet of infants before 6 months of age.
  • Infants should not be given juice from bottles or easily transportable covered cups that allow them to consume juice easily throughout the day. Infants should not be given juice at bedtime.
  • Intake of fruit juice should be limited to 4 to 6 oz/day for children 1 to 6 years old.
  • For children 7 to 18 years old, juice intake should be limited to 8 to 12 oz or 2 servings per day.
  • Children should be encouraged to eat whole fruits to meet their recommended daily fruit intake.
  • Infants, children, and adolescents should not consume unpasteurized juice.
  • In the evaluation of children with malnutrition (overnutrition and undernutrition), the health care provider should determine the amount of juice being consumed.
  • In the evaluation of children with chronic diarrhea, excessive flatulence, abdominal pain, and bloating, the health care provider should determine the amount of juice being consumed.
  • In the evaluation of dental caries, the amount and means of juice consumption should be determined.
  • Pediatricians should routinely discuss the use of fruit juice and fruit drinks and should educate parents about the differences between the two.

Reference: American Academy of Pediatrics. Committee on Nutrition. The Use and Misuse of Fruit Juice in Pediatrics. Pediatrics: 2001; 107(5):1210-1213.

Keep your questions and comments coming! We would love to hear from you! Please comment below

Parents! Something new! Do you “Digg” (like) the article you read here on Dr. Robyn’s Powerful Parent Blog? If so, please press on the “Digg” icon at the bottom of the article or any other article you like. Thanks! We’d appreciate it since it will help us to know which articles are most helpful and it may also help to bring the best and most “dugg” articles to other parents who may otherwise not see them. Again, thank you in advance!




The POWer of Self Discipline: Three Reasons Goals Fail to Reach the Finish Line


“Use Self Discipline to execute your plan or find that the lack of it will execute your dreams.” –Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman–February Self Discipline Quote of the Month

As it’s now February and we are taking inventory on how well we’ve done so far on our New Year’s Resolutions, the February POWerful quote of the month struck a cord with some parents at top Personal Development Centers using Powerful Words.

One parent, whose family is currently doing a “POWerful Challenge” (her personal challenge is to lose 50 pounds) wrote, “I jotted down your quote this month and it’s on the refrigerator. I want to remember it when I am thinking about breaking my diet plan. My son, Nathan, is working on improving his grades in school and getting an A on his next math test. We all want it to work but I’m already seeing the excuses dropping from our lips when it’s time to get to work…What are some of the things we should look out for that can prevent our kids or ourselves from reaching the goals we set out to reach this year? And how can I explain these pitfalls to my child?” (Carole- Austin, TX)

Dr. Robyn’s 3 POWerful Ps of Failure

Self Discipline helps us greatly in goal-setting and goal-getting. It puts us in control. But once we allow self discipline to slip, there are 3 POWerful Ps of Failure ready to take the reins.

Procrastination: Put off for tomorrow what could be done today!

We are all guilty of falling into the trap of procrastination. When explaining procrastination to very young children, I use a concrete term since again, they are concrete thinkers. I say it is a monster called “Mr. Delay” who tells you to wait another day…and another day..and another day before getting to work. Helping children to prioritize and set a plan so that goal-getting takes place at a certain time each day or each week can help to squash procrastination.

Pushback: Resist change—Also known as, “I don’t wanna!”

When we charge towards our goals, things change. It’s human nature to want to stay at our comfort level in our Archie Bunker chair with our feet up. We want to achieve our goal, but we want everything to stay the same. When working with children who are dealing with push-back, you can help them to understand that it’s OK to feel uncomfortable when we are going after something we really want—in the end, it will be worth it—and you can bring them back to why they wanted to achieve the goal in the first place.

Projection: Blame it on the Dog!

As an educator, this is one of my favorites. Projection means placing the onus and the blame on someone else when a goal is not achieved. You may have heard, “Dad forgot to put my homework in my bag,” or “the teacher only explained it once that is why I didn’t get an A.” When explaining this concept to children, you can use concrete terms by asking them to picture a slide projector from school or showing them the film projector at a movie theater. The projector doesn’t put the picture on itself; it puts it on a screen. When we blame someone else when we do not achieve a goal, we are being like the projector. The person or thing we blame is the “screen.” The people who achieve their goals are people who take responsibility to get things done on their own and take the responsibility when they forget to do so as well. When we project blame onto someone else, we give them the power to decide the outcome of our goals and dreams.

Self Discipline is a powerful force in goal-setting and goal-getting. On your quest to achieve your New Year’s Resolution this year or your POWerful Challenge this month, I wish you and your family the self discipline to stay in the driver’s seat.

You have the power! Take the reins!


Using Self Discipline to Get Organized


In my recent post, Being a Role Model: Am I self disciplined?, I must have hit a nerve. Several people wrote in and told me that the self discipline questions prompted them to take a good hard look at their own ability to discipline themselves. Question #2, “How much time do you waste looking for something you lost (or don’t know where to find) each week?” was a particular ringer. Issues of organization, or lack there of, applies to all of us.

Nobody’s perfect. The questions, even as I wrote them, sparked a response in me. I was preparing to write an article for the South Shore Senior News on Body Image (due out in March) and, I confess, I couldn’t find some of my notes. I eventually found them—but at what cost? I wasted 45 minutes of my time and felt frustrated and annoyed at my carelessness.

So, this weekend, my husband Jason and I decided to get organized. It was time. After all, the Powerful Word of the month is self discipline—we don’t want to just write about it; we want to live it! We cleaned our home from top to bottom, including delving into the dreaded closets that housed much of the clutter that we hadn’t dealt with in months. We went through what seemed to look like mountains of paper. We donated towels and sheets that hadn’t left the linen closet since we moved in. We recycled boxes and bottles that had been pushed aside. By the end of the day, we were exhausted but we had to admit, we felt, well, lighter.

Would you like to get started too—but not sure where to begin? Julie Morgenstern,“The Queen of Organizing,” and the author of Time Management from the Inside Out and Organizing from the Inside Out, has a formula to help get rid of clutter.


  • Sort: Identify what’s important to you and group similar items

  • Purge: Decide what you can live without and get rid of it (e.g. donations, sales, storage, garbage).

  • Assign: Decide where the items you keep will go. Remember, make it logical, accessible and safe.

  • Containerize: Make sure they’re sturdy, easy to handle, the right size, and that they look good. The art of containerizing is to do it last, not first.

  • Equalize: Spend 15 minutes a day to maintain what you’ve done

It can be difficult to purge old items. You may wonder to yourself; “will I need it?” It’s this type of question that can stop us in our tracks and halt progress. But really; if you haven’t used it in a year (or 2 or 3), the likelihood is pretty low.

There is one thought that goes through my mind when I am getting rid of clothes, linens, and other household items and I am feeling unsure about parting with them: Do I want it enough to deny access to someone else who actually NEEDS this item and will USE this item? I picture the person in that coat, scarf, or pair of shoes, being able to stay warmer this winter or walk into a new job feeling proud of a “new-to-her” outfit. Those thoughts make me realize that the item no longer belongs in my closet—hanging there without purpose—it belongs to someone else. Our own self discipline (and in this case, generosity, charity, and citizenship) can help others. This is an important point to help children understand.

One last thought. When my Dad passed away in May of 2006, we were all devastated. But what made the loss even harder was the task of having to go through an avalanche of disorganized papers, books, pictures, and office items that had never been sorted, purged, assigned, containerized, or equalized. I’m not bringing this up to be morbid–I just know my Dad would have hated to see us laboring over the mess he left. It has given me just one more reason to discipline myself and get organized. The old adage isn’t always accurate “if I don’t do it, no one else will,” because in many cases, when we leave a mess, someone, eventually, will have to clean it up.

Here’s to making one small change this month that can help you…and may just help others too!

Have a POWerful Month!


Dr. Robyn Silverman in the News


Here’s a link to a great article by Jennifer Fink on Preschool Friendships. It’s currently featured on KOAM-TV. Jennifer interviewed me on helpful parenting tips as they relate specifically to playing in groups of three. Enjoy!

POWerful Praise: 5 Ways to Properly Praise Children


Praising our children is important to their positive development. They need to know what they are doing right and how you appreciate their effort and achievements. Praise makes them feel loved, appreciated, noticed, and secure. We want to help build their self esteem, however, can we really praise too much?It turns out, you can. Brookings Institution’s Brown Center found that countries in which families emphasize self-esteem lag behind cultures where self-esteem isn’t a major focus.

A cover story in October’s Scholastic Instructor magazine covers the issue of “overpraising.” The main problem cited is that too much praise can take away the sense of satisfaction that comes from applying oneself and achieving real goals.“Self-esteem is based on real accomplishments,” Robert Brooks, faculty psychologist at Harvard Medical School, told the magazine. “It’s all about letting kids shine in a realistic way.

As we are focusing on the POWerful Word, “Self Discipline” it’s a great time to connect the character word to our praise.

(1) Praise the effort it took to achieve the goal: How did the children apply themselves to achieve the goal? What kind of sacrifice did it take? Say something like, “You really studied hard for that math test and blocked out all distractions so that you could concentrate on your math problems. You showed an amazing improvement in your grade. Congratulations.” When we praise effort, children understand that they must apply themselves.

(2) Don’t connect love with praise: When children do something well, praise what you did but don’t make your affection contingent upon it. What’s love got to do with it anyway? For example, say, “Wow! You practiced everyday for that competition and you really showed them what you’re made of!” rather than “You did so great it makes me love you even more!”

(3) Be specific: Too often we say things like “good job.” But really, “good job” is meaningless. Be specific with your praise. Say, “I appreciate you sitting so quietly while you wait for class to begin. That helps the teacher and the students who are currently in class concentrate on what they are doing. You really showed everyone what it looks like to be patient and self disciplined” instead of “good job waiting for class.”

(4) Help them to connect the positive feeling to the accomplishment: We want the children to realize that when they accomplish a goal, they are receiving 2 kinds of rewards. On one hand, they are receiving external rewards such as good grades, a pat on the back, or a trophy. On the other hand, they are generating internal rewards which are the positive feelings of satisfaction and pride that come when they achieve something challenging. Ask them, “how do you feel?” Tell them, “I can see how proud you are that you were able to show your teacher that skill you’ve been working on. That great feeling that you have inside comes from working hard and achieving something you really wanted to achieve. It’s the best reward of all!”

(5) Connect praise to their character: Help your children to understand that they have it “in them” to be successful. When they’ve achieved a goal say, “One thing I know about you is that whenever you set out to do something, you do it. Congratulations on finishing your summer reading!” or “One thing I know about you is that you are a great leader. When you stood up for your best friend in class today, you really showed incredible leadership. You’re a great friend.”

Children who receive positive, well placed praise believe in their abilities and know the kind of character it takes to achieve their goals. They are more likely apply themselves than those who receive nonspecific “overpraise” and will likely work a little harder each time they approach a new task.

Here’s to our POWerful Kids!



How can we build up our daughters’ self confidence?

Parents can do so much to help our daughters’ thrive. You’ve read volume 1. Here’s volume 2 of raising strong, confident daughters:

(6) Catch your child “being good:” We often are quick to jump when our child is exhibiting poor behavior, however, when our child is making good choices, we “let sleeping dogs lie” and refrain from making a comment. When you praise your child when she doesn’t even know you were looking, two things happen. She becomes more apt to repeat the positive behavior and she feels good about the choices she is making independently of you.

(7) Be a positive role model: How is your self esteem? If you look in the mirror and say negative things about yourself or your body, your child will absorb those actions. Your children are like little sponges! Even your subtle, unspoken negative reactions to how you have performed or how you look (as you believe it reflects on you as a person) can be read by your children. This negativity can filter down to your children and lead them to question if they are good enough.

(8) Love is unwavering: My friend used to tell her young children, “nothing you can do or say will make me take my love away.” When your children know that even when they make mistakes you will still love them, they will become more self assured and more understanding of how many childhood mistakes can be fixed with some purposeful effort and perhaps a few heartfelt apologies.

(9) Enroll your child is an activity that fosters confidence: There are many activities that can make your child feel successful. What are her talents? What are her interests? Some programs provide a character development component into their lesson plans which help children put a positive name to their positive behavior. For example, many martial arts academies are using a systemized character education program that is formulated to build children’s sense of values and self worth. Choose an activity with positive role models and a positive curriculum.

(10) Talk with your child: When you talk with your child, ask powerful questions, and really listen. Let her know that she is valued and that her opinions matter. Many parents find themselves “talking at” their child which, as we know, isn’t always well received. Spend time talking with your child about things that matter to the whole family and the things that matter to her.

Until next time (and the next ways to help your daughters!),