Powerful Role Models: Seven Ways to Make a Positive Impact on Children

They want to be just like you. Are you being a positive role model?

A role model is someone whose behavior is imitated by others. Of course, there are good role models and bad role models. There is even the counterintuitive anti-role model 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 sons and daughters want to be (and become) better people. While there is some variation in every parent’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. (This point began some great conversation on parents and role models in the comments below and here.)

(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, 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 “parents” or “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 father who’s also a student of the martial arts, a great chef, a good sportsman, and a treasured friend. You may be a mother who’s a gifted dancer, a solid rock climber, a celebrated singer, 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!


Who Wants to Be A Virtual Bimbo? Warning to Parents and Educators


Some of my colleagues, have brought a disturbing game to my attention recently called “Miss Bimbo.” Because some of it’s users are as young as age 9, I thought it was my social responsibility to let you know about it. It started in Europe but unfortunately, the popularity of the game is spreading. It’s currently being condemned by parents who are outraged by the premise.

  • According to CNN “When a girl signs up, they are given a naked virtual character to look after and pitted against other girls to earn “bimbo” dollars so they can dress her in sexy outfits and take her clubbing…”
  • Parents are concerned that young people will see Miss Bimbo as a role model, “harmless fun” or as “a great catch” NOT as the ironic brainchild of young men over in Europe.
  • Miss Bimbo can buy herself some virtual breast implants or facelifts, go on a kissing rampage, or try her best to “bag a billionaire.”

See for yourself…

Parents have the power to guide their children online through internet safety. Here’s just one more reason to know what’s going on out there in cyberspace.

Remember to:

  • Become computer literate and internet savvy
  • Learn how to block material that is unacceptable in your household or for your children.
  • Keep the computer in a place where you can monitor your children’s internet habits as they learn how to be safe and smart online.
  • Talk to your children about what is acceptable and unacceptable on the internet. Be open to questions and get into a discussion of why certain sites are OK and others are not OK. Unanswered questions and secrecy can lead to curiosity and sneaky behavior.
  • Let your children know that they must use their powerful words of responsibility, trust, honesty, and self reliance when it comes to being smart online.
  • Bookmark acceptable sites and your children’s favorite sites for easy access.
  • Spend time online together to teach your child responsible online behavior.

Have a Powerful Day!


Teaching Children How to Manage Money: 5 Tips for Savvy Parents


Five Ways to Teach Your Children about the Value of Money

By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

(Teach your children self reliance and responsibility!)

When I was about 5 years old, my father took me down to the corner store so that he could buy a newspaper for himself and a pack of gum for me. When we exited the store, there was a path of coins in a neat little line in front of me leading to the parking lot. I was so excited! I started picking up pennies and nickels and dimes, oh my! My father smiled at my enthusiasm and said, “You know if you put that money away and add to it each time you receive more of it, sooner or later, you’ll have your very own money tree. Then you’ll be able to buy all sorts of special things with it!”

That was my first experience with money and it stuck with me. It taught me that money was plentiful and that over time it could reap great gifts. I began looking for ways to find and make more of it. My father started giving me an allowance. Additional compensation was provided when I would do extra chores.

I became a bona fide saver. In fact, whenever anyone in the family needed money, they would come to me! I kept my money in a bright yellow cash box. I used to find little “I owe you” notes in it from my Mom and brothers when they needed a few dollars.

Not everyone has such a happy give-and-take relationship with money. A few years ago, I became friendly with a woman who had a very different experience. Her parents died when she was just a child and she was left to live with her older siblings. Her first memory of money was of rummaging through the couch cushions for any loose change that the family could use to buy groceries. It taught her that money was scarce and that she would never be able to secure enough to live comfortably.

Our first experiences with finances, whether good or bad, are very important to our future relationships with money. Luckily, we can control some of these experiences with our own children. By taking the time to include them in some appropriate financial decisions while teaching them the value of money in an enjoyable manner (without dictating or commanding compliance), your children will be well on their way to cultivating a healthy relationship with dollars and cents.

(1) Be a financial role model: You can show your children how you save and spend money in several ways. Bring them to the bank when you make a deposit or an investment. Use coupons at the grocery store. Demonstrate how you choose one product over a similar, yet more expensive one, so that you stretch your dollar more effectively. And of course, show your children how, because you saved, you can now purchase something special that you would not have been able to afford had you been more careless with money.

(2) Discuss money and financial choices: This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. When you explain your decisions and even ask your child to join in on the conversation when you are choosing between saving and spending, you are shaping your child’s understanding of money. Speak out loud when you bring your children to the grocery store and ask them to participate in finding “the cereal that is on sale” or the “juice shown in the coupon we clipped from the paper.” You can also allow them to hold the coupons and hand the money to the cashier—further instilling that it takes money to buy “things.”

(3) Set spending limits: Discuss how much you can spend at the store, or, if your children are going to be using their allowance, discuss how much they want to budget for a particular item or event. This will help you and your children stick to the plan while still having fun. Be firm with these spending limits. Otherwise, you will be teaching your children that by simply whining or begging, they will get more money. This is not the way life is, so why set the precedent?

(4) Allow children to manage money: Allowance can sometimes be controversial. However, it is a great way for children to learn how to manage money within safe parameters. By encouraging them to make their own decisions about money and deal with the benefits of good choices and the consequences of poor ones, they will learn to be more responsible with saving and spending. For example, if a child blows all his savings on a toy and then does not have enough to go to the movies, well, that’s learning for you! Think of it this way, wouldn’t you rather that your children learn these valuable lessons now rather than waiting and having them learn them as adults when the rent check bounces?

(5) Teach your children to divide up their money: Children should learn at an early age that all money should not go in one big spending pot. Decide on a percentage of money that each member of your family will give to charity each year (usually 10% of earnings). Your children will take great pride in choosing which type of charity they want to support. In addition, provide money jars or piggy banks for (a) money that can be spent now; (b) money for short to medium term savings and goals; and (c) money for long term savings, goals and investing. With very young children, leave all of these piggy banks in the child’s room so that the children get a very hands-on understanding of money. As children get older, help them open a bank account and look for appropriate ways to invest their “long term savings” for maximum return.

Understanding the power of money takes time and tolerance. Mistakes are bound to happen. After all, they are part of the learning process! The important things to remember are to be consistent with limits, encouraging of saving and responsible spending and patient with your children’s decisions—even if they are not the best choices in the long run. How else are they going to learn that if they want to grow money trees, they better get to planting, maintaining, and cultivating the seed?

Have a Powerful Day!


This article was originally published in Bay State Parent Magazine

Some of Dr. Robyn’s other articles that teach self reliance and responsibility feature (1) Learning how to my own tie shoes; (2) Learning how to do the laundry; and (3) learning how to pack my own bag

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman is a Massachusetts-based child and adolescent development specialist whose programs and services are used worldwide. Known as “The Character Queen,” she is also a success coach for parents, adolescents, and educators, who are looking to achieve their goals, improve their lives or improve the lives of others. She is a writer and professional speaker who presents to PTAs, schools, parents, and organizations that focus on children or families. Interested in doing some coaching with Dr. Robyn or having Dr. Robyn present a seminar at your child’s school or at your business? Go to her website or her Powerful Parenting Blog for more information.

Justice for Ashley: My Niece’s Teacher Died Too Soon


The kids all called her “Miss Mac” and loved her greatly.

Hi everyone-

I wanted to share a personal story that was featured in the Washington Post today that has touched my life recently.

My six year old niece, Evie, and her classmates received some devastating news when one of their favorite teaching assistants, Ashley McIntosh, age 33, was killed in a traffic accident last month. Concerns have been launched about the fairness of the investigation because the accident happened when a police car collided with Ashley’s car. The family is suffering greatly since little information has been released as the police are doing their investigation.

Witnesses clearly saw the police car speeding without a siren, yet with lights, towards the intersection where Ashley was thrown from the car and killed. Here is the full article.

Now close to 800 people, including myself and my family, have signed a petition asking for a thorough and fair investigation by police. It can be signed publicly or anonymously but please, would you take a moment to sign it? It’s free-They’re not asking for any money– just a signature of support. The McIntosh family has already been through so much and the children and families who loved her deserve to know what “really” happened.

NOTE: Petitioners have been advised not to contribute money to the website. “Advise supporters NOT to contribute to the petition website. That is not associated with our effort.” Also, you can uncheck the box that asks for future emails on other petitions– again, this is not the point of the effort. The supporters thank you in advance.

Petition here.

October 14, 2008 update: Virginia Residents: Help make Ashley’s law a reality by signing this free petition. The law would mandate that emergency vehicle operators always use their lights and siren when driving through red lights, and mandate emergency vehicle operators slow their vehicles so they are able to make a controlled stop when driving through any intersection.

*May 2nd 2008 update here.

*September 2008 update here

Ashley’s law website here

Warm regards,


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“Too” Tall or “Too” Short; Feeling Different Can Be Tough for Children and Adults


beckytand_proflim.jpgIt can be challenging for children to feel like they can fit in, feel confident, and thrive when they feel so different from others. This morning’s (3-26) New York Times featured “The Life of a Tall Girl,” an essay by the exquisite Becky Thomas. This essay talked about the tough mental challenge to “feel good about ourselves” while we’re growing up, especially when we are different from others. Ms. Thomas said “Everywhere I go people stare at me. At the grocery store children gawk at me wide-eyed, craning their necks and pointing as they tug their mothers’ shirts. When I pass people on the street, I hear them mumble comments about my appearance.”

As many of you know, I wrote a series on “Fitting In and Standing Out,” a struggle for many children whether they feel too tall like Ms. Thomas, too short, too thin, too fat, or “too” something else. To give the other side of the coin, here is the second article of the series on “coming up short in a tall-is-all world” originally published in Bay State Parent Magazine.

5 Tips to Help Your Child Deal with Coming up Short in a Tall-is-All World

By: Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Everyone thought Dylan was adorable. Girls wanted to pick him up and cart him around like a doll in a baby carriage. Boys called him “Mouse.” He was 8 ¼ years old and was starting third grade. He looked like he was in first.

Perhaps you know a child who is struggling with this same issue. Perhaps it’s your child. Perhaps it was you! When it comes to body image, weight isn’t the only thing that gets scrutinized by others. Short children often feel that they can’t measure up.

It can be difficult for children to cope with feeling short when their same-age friends or younger siblings start to surpass them in height. Especially at the start of a new school year, this issue gets a great deal of attention—children go for their back-to-school check-ups where height and weight are routinely examined and of course, it’s only natural that students compare heights, along with summer experiences, on the first day of school.

Studies show that people unknowingly assign positive qualities to tall people. With height comes assumed qualities of worthiness, dependability, intelligence, and authoritative leadership qualities. Even for girls, although short stature can be connected to positive qualities of being “cute” or “sweet,” being short can subconsciously keep others from putting a girl in a leadership position.

On a normal bell curve, some children will be tall, some will be short, and many will fall somewhere in between. It typically doesn’t matter where they fall on the bell curve, but rather, their pattern and rate of growth over a period of time. In fact, a child who’s in the 10th percentile for height and a child who’s in the 90th percentile of height can have the same rate of growth. They are both normal. If a child is not growing at a consistent rate or showing a predictable pattern, a pediatrician can determine if tests are needed.

While being tall may have social advantages, being on the low end of the measuring tape can feel like you’re getting the short end of the stick.

How can we help our short children stand tall?

(1) Be careful about transferring your worry: As caring parents, it’s common to become worried about your child’s height. Studies confirm that parental concern often outweighs the child’s concern when it comes to height! Parents may be anxious about the possibility of their child being teased or treated unfairly. They may be stressed about what the future might hold (professionally and socially) if their child remains short in comparison to others. While the concern is good intentioned, these worries might lead to repeated measuring, comparing, and doctor’s visits. When we transfer our worries to our child in this way, it teaches him that his height is an issue— even if in the child’s view, this wasn’t the case until it was brought to his attention.

(2) Don’t compare: Grade school is often about “who’s in, who’s out” which can be determined by as little as the color shirt the child is wearing that day or how many inches he measures. As parents and teachers, it’s important that we don’t inadvertently make our short children feel inadequate by comparing them to taller siblings and friends. Lining up by height or comparing how high someone’s mark is on the height chart in comparison to others may feel more like a competition than interesting fact. Since the child has no control over their height, such a comparison can make them feel that they will never “measure up.”

(3) Watch your language: Often height comparisons or statements are tainted with language bias. Parents and other family members might not think they’re being hurtful, but they’re language may be sending messages that celebrate taller members and denigrate shorter ones. Nicknames like “shorty,” “shrimp,” or “pip-squeak” may be said in jest but received as mockery. One of my coaching clients, a parent of two sons, told me that their grandmother would joke; “you wouldn’t believe they’re brothers- my Thomas is so short I feel like I can scoop him up like a rag doll and my Tony is so tall that I think he must hang the rainbows up after it rains.” The former sends a message of insignificance while the latter sends a message of superhuman qualities. It’s no wonder that Thomas always felt that his family looked at him like he was still a baby even though he was 12 years old.

(4) Celebrate all different heroes: Children need to be able to picture themselves and people like themselves as the heroes every once in a while. Superheroes, presidents, and sports stars are often described as being tall and strong. However, there are plenty of heroes who are shorter in stature while still being highly regarded. For instance, James Madison, “the father of the constitution” and “the father of the bill of rights,” stood 5’3 ¾” tall. Exposing children to different kinds of people of varying heights, both from our history as well as from our own communities, can help children see that anyone can be successful no matter how tall they are.

(5) Don’t allow height to dictate their involvement: Life doesn’t have to be a series of signs that read “too short to ride this ride.” Individual sports like swimming, dance, gymnastics, and martial arts arrange children by skill level and age rather than by skill level and height or weight. Jessie, a girl with dwarfism, began martial arts at age six. While some skills needed to be altered for her size and physical differences, she was able to excel as a leader in her class. When her mother told me, “Jessie doesn’t know that she isn’t supposed to be able to do any of this stuff,” I responded, “don’t tell her!” Sometimes limitations come from our own limiting thoughts (or what we have been told) rather than what is truly accurate. Jessie excelled because she could and nobody told her that she couldn’t.

And of course, talk to your child. Ask him or her how s/he feels, what s/he wants and what s/he hopes to become. Support these dreams just like you would any child. When it comes to our children, no matter what their height, it’s important that we don’t sell them short.

To our children!


Webmaster’s Note: This article was originally printed in Bay State Parent Magazine and was part of Dr. Robyn’s award winning series “Fitting In and Standing Out.”

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman is child and adolescent development specialist, success coach and body image expert whose programs and services are used worldwide. Known as “The Character Queen, she’s the creator of the Powerful Words Character Toolkit used by the best and most progressive children’s activity programs, daycares, and personal development centers worldwide. She is an award-winning columnist for Bay State Parent Magazine.

Parents Choice Writing Award And Parenting Publication Awards


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.

Congratulations to Bay State Parent Magazine!




“Mommy, I hate you and Daddy You’re Mean!” Six Tips to Help You Cope with Your Child’s Angry Words


Dear Dr. Robyn,

I feel like the worst Mom. My son is 4 years old and he has always been a very sweet and loving boy. But the other day when we were playing with his toy trucks on the floor he got really mad, threw the truck down, and told me that he hated me! I was so surprised that I didn’t know what to say. I want to be prepared for the next time it happens (if it happens). What should I do?

                                                                                   —Susanne R., San Diego, CA

“Mommy, I hate you and Daddy You’re Mean!”

Six Tips to Help You Cope with Your Child’s Angry Words

By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

“Mommy, I Hate You!”

“Daddy, You’re Mean!”

Being a parent is tough sometimes, isn’t it? Yes, you know in your head that your child doesn’t really hate you. But when he utters those words it’s as if he is nailing a scarlet letter to your head with a tinker toy. The words are “child’s play” but the effect sure does feel real.

Young children do not have to subtle language to beat around the bush. When they’re angry, they show it. If you don’t give them their way, they are going to let you know about their frustration. It’s normal. It just doesn’t feel like it when it happens to you. What should you do?

(1) Look for the issue behind the words: Your child does not always have the language to explain his frustration. When your child says “I hate you,” he might be having difficultly with a task, attaining something he wants, or expressing an emotion like fear. As parents, we must become a detective and figure out what our children are really trying to relay.

(2) Help your child recognize anger: If your child can recognize when he is feeling angry, he will have an easier time expressing and coping with the feeling rather than lashing out. Ask your child, “what does your body feel like when you’re angry?” Help him to name it while it’s happening, “I can tell by your face and body that you are angry. You’re having trouble putting the wheel back on your truck. That is very frustrating!” This will help to validate what your child is feeling and help him put a name to the emotion he is feeling.

(3) Give your child the right words: When your child is calm, talk about what happened. Remind him of when he was feeling angry earlier in the day and what he said. Let him know that when he says “I hate you,” it hurts your feelings. Then ask him, “What can you say instead?” If he is unsure, give him the right words. “When you feel this way, instead of saying ‘I hate you,’ say, ‘I feel angry and I need help, please.” Help him to practice expressing his feelings so that when he is angry again, he can call on these skills.

(4) Provide calming techniques: We all get angry. Helping your child deal with anger in a constructive way will be a gift that he can use for the rest of his life. Introduce and practice some techniques when your child is open to listening (not when in the heat of battle!). Counting to 10, singing a song, and talking to oneself, are some simple ways to calm down when angry. One of my favorite techniques is to “smell the roses and blow away the clouds.” This is a powerful way to teach children to take a few deep breaths.

(5) Provide problem solving techniques: Let your child know that there are lots of ways to solve problems. If something isn’t working, try something else! You might say, “Could you help me put the wheel back on my truck?” or “maybe I should play with something else.” Help your child think about solutions that are safe, fair, and likely to be successful.

(6) Watch your own language: Regrettably, in this case, “monkey see, monkey do.” If you use harsh language in anger or you typically say “I hate” towards objects (i.e. I hate doing laundry; I hate when the phone rings during your nap time), your child will pick up on it and use it himself. Unfortunately, such language might be directed at you!

Perhaps the most important thing for you to keep in mind while all this is happening is that your child doesn’t really hate you. So take a deep breath. Sometimes parents, too, need to remember to smell the flowers and blow away the clouds. After all, it’s likely that clear skies are on the horizon.

With great respect,


Webmaster’s Note: This article was originally published in Bay State Parent Magazine, where Dr. Robyn is a columnist. Dr. Robyn recently earned the Silver Award for her series, Fitting in and Standing Out, on Body Image in America from Parenting Publications of America.

Fun Spring Activities for Children: All in one place!


It may still feel like winter for some of us but spring is actually here. That means Spring holidays like Easter and Passover as well as playing outside, long walks, bike riding, and picnics.

What are some great activities for children to do to celebrate the coming of spring and some of the spring holidays?

(1) In the Kitchen with the Kids: On days that don’t seem all that Spring-like, how about some baking and cooking?

Bread animals:

Turtle-Shaped Bread: Put down the play dough and grab a hold of the real thing! Use the recipe from Family Fun or try it with store-bought dough to make it easy.

Easy animal bread: Love the idea but not all the work? Bake the breads in an animal mold and just turn it out when baked through.

Teddy Bear or Rabbit-Shaped Bread: For each bear, form a flattened oval for the body. Add a flattened ball for the head. To connect the parts, use a small amount of water or egg white applied with your fingers. Add two balls to the head for ears to make a bear or use long ovals for the rabbit’s ears and a triangle to form the face. Get the full idea from this site.

Bunny Cupcakes: Great for celebrating Easter, Spring, or even Mother’s Day!

Little white bunny-face cupcakes: These cute cupcakes will remind you of Peter Cottontail!

Bunny Cupcakes with Oreo Ears and an M&M nose: The whole thing will surely taste delicious from top to bottom!

Molded mini bunny cupcakes: (Pictured above) It doesn’t get much easier than this—and using easy icing in a tube makes decorating simple for the kids!

Spring Crafts: With so many colors for inspiration, why not do some crafts with the kids?

Butterfly mobile: These beautifully vibrant butterflies from Kaboose are a great way to welcome spring! Suspend them from the ceiling with fishing line, or make several and attach to a paper plate mobile.

Paper flowers: We all remember making paper flowers when we were little. Check out this site which provides both the “how to” and a sheet on what each type of flower means. Or this site which provides the classic technique from when we were young.

 Egg Carton Animals: Caterpillars, lady bugs, and spiders, oh my! Decorate egg cartons to make all kinds of animals and creatures from bugs to camels!

Wooden Spoon Bouquet: Paint and transform your old wooden spoons into a work of art to display on any sunny—or dreary day!

Flowered T-Shirt Pillow: This comfortable and bright idea can be used for Passover as this site recommends or just for fun to celebrate spring!


f. <!–[endif]–>Build a birdhouse or bird-feeder: Building a birdhouse with your children can be used to teach about different kinds of birds while having a wonderful time! Here’s a video of a Dad making a birdfeeder with his son—but Moms, Dads, or grandparents can do this with their kids!

(3) <!–[endif]–> Outside Activities: Many children have been stuck inside over the cool months. Time to get outside and take advantage of the fresh air and the wide-open spaces!

<!–[if !supportLists]–>a. <!–[endif]–>Outside Spring Games: Everything from tag to Frisbee to chalk and pavement games are right here

<!–[if !supportLists]–>b. <!–[endif]–>Garden Activities: These activities help your children learn about the garden while doing something fun and entertaining. Everything from painting flower pots to learning how to plant a sunny flower garden to growing a cucumber in a bottle!

<!–[if !supportLists]–>c. <!–[endif]–>Jumprope: Blue bells, cockle shell. easy ivy over! Revive the jumprope rhymes from when you were little and get to jumping!

<!–[if !supportLists]–>(4) <!–[endif]–>Character-Based Activities: Through Powerful Words, we are always looking for ways to help others. Spring is a great time to get outside and do some community service with the children. Here are just a few:

<!–[if !supportLists]–>a. <!–[endif]–>Take shelter dogs for a walk: Plenty of shelters rely on the kindness of volunteers to help walk and care for the pets. Through this experience as well as other service opportunities, children learn gratitude, empathy, kindness, and citizenship. What a great way to enjoy the weather and do something great for mankind…well, dog-kind! Find out more through your local shelter or read more here.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>b. <!–[endif]–>Adopt a grandparent: There are many eager, caring, bright senior men and women out there who would love to celebrate spring with you. Perhaps they love to garden or do crafts! Perhaps they love to take a walk or eat bunny cupcakes! Our older citizens can teach children about longevity, perspective, respect, open-mindedness, patience, and discipline. Share your time and they will certainly share a lifetime of wisdom and humor.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>c. <!–[endif]–>Special Olympics: While these events happen year-round, spring is a great time to volunteer. When children help others who have persevered through challenges, they do not only have a terrific experience, they learn what indomitable spirit looks like.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>d. <!–[endif]–>Habitat for Humanity: The Youth Programs department of Habitat for Humanity was founded with the mission to capture the imagination, energy and hope of young people worldwide, ages five to 25, in order to productively and responsibly involve them as leaders in the work of Habitat.

<!–[if !supportLists]–>e. <!–[endif]–>Here are some other ideas!


Happy spring and Happy Holidays!


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You can do it! 7 Ways to Teach Your Children Self Reliance and Responsibility


There has been a lot of talk over the last year about “helicopter parents,” parents who hover over their children and swoop in before or at the slightest hint of discomfort, challenge, or threat of failure. Powerful parents know that while they want their children to succeed, there is great value in making mistakes and learning from them.

It’s developmentally appropriate for children to become more and more independent, self reliant and responsible as they age. It can be challenging for parents to know when to step back and let their children try something on their own. After all, from the time their children were babies, parents have spent years meeting many to all of their child’s needs. Striking a balance between allowing your children to do tasks for themselves and helping them when they seem to need or want is a talent of very powerful parents. This balance allows their children to thrive because they feel more confident in themselves while still feeling supported and properly mentored.

How can we instill self reliance and responsibility into our children?

(1) Allow your children to make some decisions: Even young children can make sound decisions if you give them a few select choices. Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt? Would you like a peanut butter sandwich or a cheese sandwich? As children get older, you can allow them to make more important decisions with little to no guidance. They can determine which activities in which they would like to engage, if they need a tutor for math, and which friends they’d like to spend time with each day without needing much, if any, input from parents. While it’s tempting to make these kinds of decisions for your older children, they need to learn from their own mistakes and stand on their own two feet—after all, their decisions are often correct!

(2) Encourage your children to try tasks on their own: While it’s often quicker and more skillfully done when we do it for them, children need to engage in tasks on their own if they’re ever going to learn how to do them well. Laundry, shoe-tying, packing their own bags, making the bed, and are great places to start. Older children can handle more and should! Learning how to cook and becoming solely responsible for their own homework are tasks older children should master. When children express a desire to engage in a task, if it’s safe, be sure to let them participate. Again, while it may not be done as well as if you had done it yourself, praise the effort and the initiative and allow your children to try it again next time. They will surely get better and better with each effort, mistake, and success.

(3) Model responsibility and self reliance: Parents have many responsibilities—let your child see them and hear about them! Say out loud; “This screw seems a little loose, I’ll go get the screwdriver and tighten it” or “I have to plan our weekly menu for dinner; let’s see…Monday night we’ll have…” When children see you making decisions, taking initiative, and displaying self reliant behaviors, they will engage in similar behavior. Note: Be careful, parents! If you and your spouse are used to dividing up the labor, especially if they’re divided down traditional gender lines, your children may assume that “girls can’t do this” or “boys shouldn’t do that.” Show your boys that a girl can change a lightbulb and fix the flusher on the toilet and boys can clean the dishes and do laundry!

(4) Be your child’s coach rather than his sage: When your child asks you questions about how to do something or what to do in a certain situation, sometimes asking questions is more important than providing answers. “What do you think you should do? How would you feel if you chose X? What would happen if you did Y instead?” These questions can unlock the answers in your own child’s brain so the next time he’s in a similar situation he’ll be able to call on his own experience and judgment to make a decision.

(5) Be a good support system: Sometimes this means cheering them on from the sidelines and other times it means encouraging them to try again. Of course, when children truly need your help, they should know that they can count on you. If you teach them to ask for help when they really need it (when something seems unsafe or too challenging), they should know that you will be there to assist them. When children know they can count on you when they’re really in need, they’ll feel more secure about taking healthy risks and making mistakes.

(6) Provide them with responsibilities: Chores are great for teaching children how to be self reliant as well as how to work as a team. Take some time to teach your children how to do each chore properly. You can even work on a checklist together which helps to break down the task into easy, age-appropriate chunks. For example, (1) Take the clothes out of the dryer, (2) Separate the clothes by family member, (3) Match up all the socks…and so on. Providing responsibilities which allow the children to show self reliance and responsibility will indeed build self reliance and responsibility.

(7) Encourage healthy risk-taking: Assure your children that making mistakes is OK. The most important thing is that s/he tries! Most things are not done perfectly the first time—even when you’re an adult. It doesn’t mean “the end of the world” and there is no reason to be embarrassed. It can be tough to watch our children make mistakes. We may want to rush to their aid to shield them from impending failure or disappointment. However, when parents do this, they rob their children of some very powerful tools; perseverance, confidence, and yes, self reliance.

Your words and your encouragement have far-reaching affects. My mother always used to sing to me whenever I fell down; “just pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again!” I still hear it in my head when I’ve made a blunder.

Your children are relying on you to teach them how to approach the world. Sometimes that means watching and learning from you and other times, that means watching and encouraging them to figure it out on their own.

Here’s to your children’s powerful successes!


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Honoring Mr. Rogers: National Sweater Day is March 20th!

Won’t you wear your sweater?

Mr. Rogers always reminds me of a kinder, gentler time when children didn’t have 300 channels of everything from cartoons to candid sex and violence to choose from at 9am. It didn’t promote exaggerated stereotypes, rude language or “pimped-out rides” and any mention of “your crib” really meant, well, your crib– probably during one of Mr. Rogers’ heartfelt talks about transitioning into your “big-boy” or “big-girl” bed. Mr. Rogers was one of the first to really encourage all of us to be better people and knew that starting character-based discussions about respect and open-mindedness needed to start early.

So, in honor of simpler times and the day that would have been Mr. Rogers’ 80th birthday, “won’t you wear your sweater?”

Do you have a Mr. Rogers story? Share it!

Here’s to you, Mr. Rogers!