Grow up, Government! Part 1

How the Government is failing to be role models for our youth; Part 1

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

I was just talking to my husband, Jason, last night about how when I was little, I thought the president and everyone “in charge” knew everything.  I also thought that when people became adults, they acted like adults. Oh well.

We are repeatedly telling our children to show respect and be responsible but what happens when our efforts get sabotaged by the government that is leading the way?

Like many of you, I’ve been disgusted by what’s gone on Wall Street lately. But what disgusts me more is adults acting like tantruming, irresponsible, untrustworthy toddlers.

“This bill failed because Barack Obama and the Democrats put politics ahead of country,” – McCain’s senior policy advisor Doug Holtz-Eakin

[Those statements were] “angry and hyper-partisan [and] exactly why the American people are disgusted with Washington.” –Bill Burton, Obama spokesman

In other words…

“It’s all your fault!”

“No it’s not! You take that back!”

Sound familiar? What’s next?

“Mommmm! John is pointing fingers!”

“Daaaaaaaaaaad! Barack is making a mean face!

What do we really have here? Grown men and women– stealing what’s not theirs, arguing incessantly, and refusing to come to an agreement because they didn’t like what someone did or said. And what’s worse, we have 2 presidential candidates—one of whom will be our next president—pointing fingers at each other saying “it’s your fault, you didn’t do as much as I did.” Come on folks. Get a grip. Take a time out if you need to and let’s get back to work.

Have your say– do these folks need a time out, a gold star reward system, or a stern talking to? Comment below. Tomorrow we’ll talk about questions to ask your children regarding these issues.

Ashley McIntosh: Denied Justice for Deadly Car Crash with Police?

Ashley McIntosh: Justice Denied?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Bad weather, No Siren, Red Light: A case of an Officer given preferential treatment? You Make the Call

As many of you know, my niece Evie and her schoolmates lost their beloved teaching assistant, Ashley McIntosh (affectionately known as Miss Mac), last February when a police officer, Amanda Perry, crashed into her Toyota sedan. The Fairfax County police officer, as witnessed by several onlookers, had driven through a red light with her emergency lights on but without a siren. Upon impact, Ashley was tragically ejected from the vehicle.

Although the officer had been charged with reckless driving in May, she was found not guilty last week to the shock of Ashley’s family and friends.

“Taking the totality of the circumstances I don’t find the evidence rises to a level that the driving was reckless.” — General District Judge Sarah L. Deneke

Witnesses all voiced that police officer Perry was driving at a speed close to 50 mph and spend through the intersection. Virginia law states that officers are actually not required to sound their sirens when they’re running red lights. (Clearly, this law needs to be amended as the practice resulted in a preventable deadly crash). Perry stated that she was indeed trying to turn on her siren while making herself aware of the traffic ahead of her but despite her efforts, “it did not come on.”

A video from officer Perry’s dashboard, which showed that the officer hit the brakes and turned on her emergency lights, was the key piece of evidence that prompted the not guilty verdict. Perry had perceived that the intersection was clear. For several seconds before the crash, the officer did not use her brakes or swerve. The light had been red for about 5 seconds prior to the crash. Perhaps not surprisingly, she claimed that McIntosh’s car “came out of nowhere.” Perry was going between 38-44 mph, according to crash experts, when the crash occurred. Perry was not seriously hurt but Ashley suffered fatal injuries that led to her death the following day.

“The judge saw the video and heard all the testimony and the judge found that that did not rise to the level of a conscious disregard for life, limb or property,” Ed Nuttall, defense attorney

Ashley McIntosh had her whole life ahead of her. She was loved by the children at Clermont Elementary School. She was engaged to the love of her life. She was young and contagiously happy.

Ashley’s supporters, many of whom signed the petition that begged for justice to be served despite the fact that an officer was involved which appeared to be delaying and swaying the process, are in shock. She has yet to apologize to the family. Perry has taken no responsibility whatsoever. Supporter recently commented on our blog about the outrage concerning the lack of outrage and the fact that Amanda Perry was allowed to leave the courtroom through a special entrance, without statement.

It is obvious that the reckless driving charge was a set up. It was a charge designed to placate Fx Co residents but it is a charge the Commonwealth’s Attorney knew could, and would, be defeated. A charge of running a red light was indisputable and would have certainly resulted in a conviction and would have paved the way for a wrongful death suit. Where is the outrage? Other than the Washington Post, I have not connected with any of the outrage this case deserves. –RT Greenwood

Now that the officer has been found “not guilty” of the absurdly low level charge DESPITE traversing the intersection at 45 mph with NO SIREN activated (to investigate shoplifting?), will you be following through to demand some independent oversight for the Fairfax County police, required to attain no more than a high school diploma in a county and state with NO independent Ethics Commission/No Inspector General and led (as “chiefs” of police) by a revolving door of insider males? Should the defendent have been allowed to leave the courtroom through a side door used by deputies? –C Green

Cindy Colasanto, Ashley’s grieving mother, read a statement prepared in the event of an unexpected acquittal.

“It’s beyond any understanding I have to think that an officer of the law, sworn to protect and defend us, is not held responsible for the irresponsible decision she made, responding to a call and resulting in the violent death of my daughter. Her misdeed has caused my family lifelong grief and a pain that we’ll never forget.”

The attorney for Officer Perry argued that the crash was the fault of Ashley. Ashley’s car was going about 22 to 26 mph through her green light.

“It’s clear from the video, Ms. McIntosh’s vehicle is not taking a left-hand turn. . . . The way in which Ms. McIntosh’s vehicle was driven was unforeseeable [to Officer Perry] and therefore the reason that this impact occurred.” –Edward Nuttall

NOTE: While Ashley’s light was definitely green and Officer Perry’s light was certainly red, police officers are exempt from the red light/green light law if their “speed is sufficiently reduced.” Of course, considering that they have due regard to the safety of persons and property.” However, the law states that the officers must have both their lights and their siren on, which was not the case here.

My deepest condolences to Ashley’s family and loved ones.

Do you think the officer was given the same treatment and verdict as a common citizen would be given? Voice your opinion.

7 Ways to NOT be a Helicopter Parent When Approaching Teachers

Bringing a concern to a teacher or coach respectfully and responsibly

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Dear Dr. Robyn,

I’ve been told by my daughter that I used to be a “helicopter parent” but that now I’m much better. I’m happy about that! I was wondering though, if I do have a question of concern for my child’s instructor and my daughter wants me to talk to him, what’s the “right way” to do it so that I’m not coming off like one of those crazed “Mama Bears” who’s just trying to cause trouble?                                                                          –Karin T, Austin, TX

Hi Karin,

Thanks for writing in. This is a great question and I imagine we can all benefit from starting this conversation. I’d like to offer some possible solutions, but I’d also like for other parents and educators to chime in and offer how they like these situations to be handled as well. So please comment below if you have an idea or question about approaching teachers, coaches, or instructors with problems or concerns.

(1) Ask yourself; can my child cope with this on his or her own? We all want our children to become more self reliant and feel confident dealing with a wide array of problems and questions as they develop. Talking with teachers and expressing concerns is something that builds courage and character. Often, the best way that you can help your child is by role-playing with them and helping them come up with how to best approach the teacher or coach about something which upsets them, scares them or confuses them. There are countless rewards for children who learn that they can do it by themselves! Let them use those Powerful Words!

(2) Talk to a trusted adult who has perspective: If you’re unsure if your concern warrants a meeting with the teacher or coach, run it past someone you trust who is uninvolved emotionally, can think clearly, and can offer you some perspective. A success coach or more experienced friend, who does not know the teacher, would be a good choice. Whomever you speak to, ask for an honest, non-emotionally charged opinion and be sure to ask for complete confidentiality. You want to be able to approach a teacher or coach if and when you’re ready not when s/he hears it from someone else.

(3) Discuss conflict out of earshot of children and other families: If you are certain that this concern should be brought to the teacher’s attention, and that it should be done by you rather than your child, it’s vital that you discuss the concern with the teacher in private. While it might be quicker to discuss your child whenever and wherever you can find the time, it’s inappropriate to talk to teachers about your concerns when in public. You must agree on confidentiality for the good of the child and the fairness of everyone. Just as parents need to know that teachers won’t embarrass them or their children in front of other people, you, in turn, need to be respectful by refraining from broaching concerns in public places as well.

(4) Know the facts: Step back. Take a breath. Don’t accuse a teacher or coach of lack of judgment or poor choices when you don’t know all the facts. While it might seem apparent that something questionable has happened, there are always several sides to one story. Especially when events are emotionally charged and your child isn’t happy with a teacher’s choice, you might be only getting half the facts.

(5) Speak directly to the teacher: While it might seem easier to simply “send someone” to talk to the teacher—whether it’s the Nanny, the grandparents, or other guardians, it’s important to speak directly with the teacher. Otherwise, you might be unaware of any difficulties that are occurring with your children—and you may just get the “cliff notes.” Sometimes there is a misunderstanding that must be cleared—and sometimes, frankly, it’s nobody’s business but that of the parent and teacher. It’s important to request direct contact with the teacher so that you can define the problem and solution together as a team.

(6) Avoid criticizing teachers in front of their children: Criticizing the teachers in front of the children is not helpful and is often confusing to the child. Children are very perceptive and pick up on anger and frustration. Since the teacher and the parent are very important people in the lives of the child, they do not know where to assign their loyalties and may even cause them to question authority. Therefore, it’s vital that you refrain from talking negatively about a teacher to another person in public (even if you think nobody’s listening) or showing anger towards a teacher in front of your children. Adult matters should stay adult matters.

(7) Choose a mutually agreed-upon time and place to discuss the conflict: Speaking when tempers are hot or time is limited is not likely the best time to discuss a disagreement. Is the best time in the morning? Afternoon? After a certain class? Remember—you’re thinking about the welfare of your specific child—the teachers, instructors, and coaches must think of the whole class (or multiple classes) and what is fair and safe for all of them. That means that what’s convenient for you might not be the best time for the teacher and the rest of the class. Just as important, if you know the time, you can ensure that you can secure child care for your child so that you can speak freely with the teacher or coach without distraction.

Always remember that you are guiding and modeling the ways to resolve conflict respectfully and responsibly when dealing with concerns or problems. Ask non-accusatory questions. Be gracious.  Listen.  Offer some possible solutions. Aim to work together. Children will look to you and their instructors to understand how to express frustration and work through disagreements. Even when you’re angry or concerned, you can still be an excellent role model. It’s largely your responsibility to lay the groundwork for constructive communication and conflict resolution.

All you teachers, coaches, instructors and parents out there– let’s hear your tips and comments about ways to approach a teacher with a concern! Comment below!

Is the White House Letting Your Kids Get Sick?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

DrRobynsBlog.com

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Perhaps you’re searching your mind—wondering how the American Government is failing it’s people—and you just can’t come up with a thing….so here you go!

Are you drinking contaminated tap water? Probably.

Water with a twist of pechlorate

Water with a twist of perchlorate?

We’ve all heard that doctors take the oath, “First Do No Harm.” The government should be asked to take the same oath. That is, unless you like high levels of perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel that has been linked to thyroid problems in pregnant women, newborns, and young children, in your drinking water.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been under great pressure from the White House and the Pentagon to refrain from setting a drinking-water safety standard for perchlorate. In fact, the document they originally put out by the EPA was heavily edited by government officials who oppose it.

Here’s the truth: “The document estimates that up to 16.6 million Americans are exposed to perchlorate at a level many scientists consider unsafe; independent researchers, using federal and state data, put the number at 20 million to 40 million.” —Washington Post (oh goodie, I always loved a little rocket fuel with my tea and honey—the missing ingredient in my cold remedy ?)

Here’s how it happens: Some perchlorate occurs naturally. However, perchlorate contamination in U.S. drinking water isn’t a result of that—it’s a result of poor disposal by rocket test sites, military bases and chemical plants. Unfortunately, it’s also in breast milk and veggies (Can anyone say Erin Brockovitch? We need you!)

Here’s the “problem:” No, not that lots of innocent children, babies, and pregnant women can have lifelong health issues, silly! No, no, no—the problem is that a nationwide clean-up WOULD TAKE MONEY—lots of money! It could cost millions, or BILLIONS, and it’s been rumored that several defense contractors have threatened to sue the defense department to help pay if we need such a clean-up  . (Perhaps you’ve noticed, but the U.S. is already in debt up to our eyeballs and things are getting worse—we need to bail out the thieves on Wall Street–so a little perchlorate is definitely not making the priority list.)

Here’s the REAL problem: The scientific studies suggest that even a small reduction in thyroid function is infants can result in a LOSS OF IQ and increase in BEHAVIORAL and PERCEPTION PROBLEMS. (That’s right—a great way to deal with keeping up with the Chinese– lower American IQ and decrease our ability to focus)

What the experts are saying:

“They have distorted the science to such an extent that they can justify not regulating the chemical…Infants and children will continue to be damaged, and that damage is significant.” “It’s absolutely irreversible,” he said. “Even small changes in thyroid functions early on have impacts on functioning through high school and even into people’s 20s.” –Robert Zoeller, a University of Massachusetts professor, expert in thyroid hormone and brain development. He has a copy of the EPA proposal and has read it thoroughly.

Why it’s really a problem:

The newest EPA proposal suggests that the maximum allowable contamination level is 15X what the EPA suggested in 2002 (very fishy already) was actually heavily edited by…the White House Office of Management and Budget (no doubt serious science experts who have only the health of Americans in mind). “Surprisingly,” they eliminated several KEY PASSAGES and asked the EPA to use a new computer modeling approach to calculate the chemical risks. They also erased references to studies which highlight the danger of the chemical for our children and pregnant women.

This is only the latest example of the Bush Administration EPA being accused of bowing to political and economic concerns, as opposed to taking the advice of its own scientists, when it comes to decisions about environmental — or in this case, human — health. Dan Shapley, The Daily Green

The EPA says: “Science, not the politics of fear in an election year, will drive our final decision.” –Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water

(However, people expect the EPA to shirk responsibility due to governmental pressure.)

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee says: “Perchlorate has been a serious, persistent and widespread problem which threatens the health of our families, especially our children. For the Bush EPA to walk away from this problem and shrug off this danger is, in my view, unforgivable and immoral.” –Barbara Boxer

My take: The health of Americans– especially our children (future leaders) needs to be made a top priority. Children’s health shouldn’t be factored into a budget like the Wall Street disaster. This is an issue of health and respect for the wellbeing of the American people. Going to the White House Office of Management and Budget for public health advice is as useful as asking a bunch of kindergartners to redecorate your kitchen. Anything that’s done simply causes a bigger mess and a higher cost to fix it.

WHAT DO YOU SAY? Disgusted? Frustrated? Horrified?  Spill it.

Stuffed: Dealing with a Bad Cold

Saddled with a Cold? What to do…

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

I would have written sooner but I wasn’t feeling up to it. I have a bad cold.

Of course, it didn’t start out that way—my husband had a cold and I was fine. Like any skilled cold avoider, I was pistol packing Lysol in one hand and Fabreeze in the other, spraying everything in sight—doorknobs, sheets…my husband. But I didn’t stop there- I was taking the awful tasting GrapeFruit Seed Extract, some green powdered amalgam called Green Vibrance, taking lots of vitamins, and drinking juice—which I don’t typically do. So how could I possibly have gotten sick, you ask? Well, it would have been a mystery to me to if I hadn’t woken up in the middle of the night with my husband’s face breathing infected air nearly directly into my nasal passage ways as his head was only an inch and ½ from mine. So much for the Lysol.

Back to Sneezin’ Season!

Cold Symptoms

  • Usually develop 2-5 days after exposed to someone else who kindly shared their cold with you. (My husband got the cold on Friday and I got it on Monday…yup, it was him.)
  • May include: Fever, runny or stuffy nose (yes to both), sneezing (yes), sore throat (at times), cough (yup), headache (yes to that too), and muscle aches (certainly!).
  • Mucus: Likely starts off clear then turns green or yellow after 2-3 days (let’s not even go there).
  • Symptoms usually get worse over the first 3-5 days and then slowly disappear over the next 10-14 days. (What ever happened to only 7 days?)

Treating a Cold

  • I always went for homemade chicken noodle soup—which I made last week for my husband but pretty much ran out by the time I got his cold.
  • It’s not a bacterial infection, so antibiotics won’t work. Taking them is pointless unless you or your child has an ear or sinus infection.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you or your child: Take in extra fluids, use a cold humidifier, and rest a lot—well, if you can—which most of you probably can’t…but we can dream, can’t we?
  • You may want to get a bulb syringe or saline nasal drops to clear nasal passageways for young kids who don’t “get” the whole idea of blowing their nose yet.
  • Some say that  over-the-counter meds might help ease symptoms like fever, congestion, and cough. However, the FDA says that these medications don’t work for children under 6 and more studies are needed to be certain of their effects. There is also concern that it’s easy to give your children an overdose of cold medications. While there has been a public outcry about overdosing, it’s still happening.
  • Zinc lozenges should not be used by children because they’re not often tolerated well and haven’t been shown to be helpful in children.
  • Some are turning to natural remedies like honey. I actually purchased a special kind of honey today, which is said to have many antibiotic and medicinal properties. Wish me luck!
  • Consult your pediatrician for more information for your child.

What are your cold remedies??? Please share!

Have a wonderful weekend-

Grow up! 5 Ways We’re Treating Our Children Like Adults

Growing up too soon?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silvermen

I’m sensing a very frustrating trend here. Children just can’t seem to be children much anymore. We tell them that we don’t want them to grow up too soon and yet, we’re treating them like little adults! I mean, are we serious? Why not just give them a briefcase and send them off to work too?

Let me take you on a short, but disturbing trip…

Inside, like adults: Remember when our parents would tell us to go outside and play?  As you probably remember, a recent study found that children were being banned from the playground and made to stay inside during the school day due to wearing the wrong shoes, too much messy mulch near the playground, no coat, or talkative or texting teachers who can’t be bothered to supervise. Children need outside play for physical, social, and cognitive development as well as to get in touch with nature (which is vital to help them have a sensitivity and connection to mother earth). So much for imagination…sometimes children just need to get away from plastic, electronics and rubber, don’t you think?

“Today’s 5-year-olds were acting at the level of 3-year-olds 60 years ago, and today’s 7-year-olds were barely approaching the level of a 5-year-old 60 years ago,” says Elena Bodrova at Mid-Continent Research for Education and Learning

Gym-goers, like adults: On that same topic, the Washington Post just covered a story yesterday that shows that children are now hitting the gym instead of playing outside. Come on. Hitting the gym? What happened to monkey bars, swimming, martial arts and hopscotch? Can you imagine how bored they’ll be by the time they have to make “going to the gym” a habit as an adults? Yawn Yawn. Think it’s not happening all that much? According to the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association, last year, 1.3 million children between the ages of 6 to 11 were members of a health club. Sad.  Just sad.

“It may sound like a grown up routine, but many parents are enrolling their children in fitness centers or buying child-sized equipment for a workout more grueling than ballet or Little League but cheaper than hiring a personal trainer.”

Medicated, like adults: Many of us have been very upset by the news featured in my article “Tots Popping Pills”  that the American Academy of Pediatrics started recommended the adult drug “statins” to “at-risk” children as young as 8 years old in order to lower high cholesterol levels. Besides the fact that this option provides another push-button solution in a fast-paced, sedentary world, there are no long term studies done on the effects of these drugs on children. These children could be on these drugs for the rest of their life…should they be?

“Children’s bodies are very different in how they metabolize or handle drugs…Their livers are different, their kidneys are different. In many cases it’s about the same if they’re taking Tylenol or asthma medication. But for other drugs like statins that might have some impact on their endocrine system, we just really don’t know. I, for one, feel unsafe simply saying children are little adults in this case.” Dr. Darshak Sanghavi, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts School of Medicine

Waxed, plucked, and primped, like adults: Many Mommies bond with their daughters over a little sparkly pink nail polish. We’re now dealing with a whole new ball of wax…literally. Among some of the most disturbing “grow-up” tactics, is the waxing, plucking, and primping of little girls. The New York Post told us just a month ago that “the newest trend in pre-tween preening is a wax job, with girls as young as 6 years old removing whatever hair they have – or don’t have – from their legs and armpits.’ Squirming in your chairs? Yes, me too.

“In 10 years,” predicts Stawczyk, “waxing children will be like taking them to the dentist or putting braces on their teeth.”

Fed, like adults: Who do these restaurant chains think they’re kidding? They call them “kids meals” but are serving enough for a full grown man. We talked recently about how Fast Food Flops for Tots and the recent study which shows 90% of children’s “kid’s meals” at 13 major fast-food and restaurant chains are too high in calories for kids. We know that fast food can be a lifesaver– especially for families who have a lot of kids— but what are we feeding them? Men’s Health put out a surprisingly good article this month (my husband gets the magazine and showed it to me), written by it’s editor and author of Eat This Not That, about what kids are really being served at their favorite restaurant chains. Just as an example, according to the article, while an active 8 year old boy should eat about 1,600 calories per day, a single kid’s meal of “Chili’s Pepper Pals Country Fried Chicken Crispers with Ranch Dressing and Homestyle Fries” will pack over 70% of his daily calories into one, seemingly innocent kid’s meal (1,110 calories, 82 grams of fat- 15 grams saturated, 56 grams of carbs, and HolyMoly 1,980 mg of sodium). Yum yum.

“An Oscar Mayar Lunchable can have more sugar than four peanut butter cups.

SO…is it really better to be “like mother, like daughter” and “like father, like son?”

Please weigh in. I’m going to go bang my head against the wall.

Note: This article featured on radio show, Bigg Success 10/10/08 here

The Laziest Thing I’ve Ever Seen

Dr. Robyn's Dog, Casey, in favor of occasional laziness

Dr. Robyn's dog, Casey, in favor of occasional laziness

How Lazy Can you Be?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Yesterday, I saw one of the laziest scenes I’ve ever seen. While out walking down the street with my dog, Casey, I saw one of my fully-able neighbors “walking” her dog too…except she was in her car…with the leash hanging out the window…so her dog could walk and she could…ride.

,,,and they say that having a dog makes people less lazy!

Is Laziness due to genetics? Modern Conveniences? “Poor Physique?”

J. Timothy Lightfoot recently published an article out of the University of North Carolina suggesting that some people might actually have a laziness gene which predisposes them to being slothlike. Others simply say that all the internet tools and modern conveniences are what make them lazier.  (If there’s any question of who’s the most lazy the UN’s International Labor Organization says American’s are among the laziest when they compare the proportion of American workers who put in more than 48 hours per week with other workers from around the world.) I even came across an article in the New York Times from 1910 entitled “Why Some Children Are Lazy” that said in plain terms that lack of determination and high levels of laziness are simply the result of “poor physique.”

So…what do you think? Are we getting lazier? Why? Genetics? Poor physique? The Internet? Modern Conveniences ? Poor diet ? Too much help ? Need for more in-school or after-school activity?

And after the shock of watching my neighbor “walk” her dog while she drove her car down the side street—I have to ask—WHAT’S THE LAZIEST THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN???

September 11th: The Day The World Changed (In Your Words)

September 11th: The Day the World Changed (and Your Responses)

Guest Post By: Jason M. Silverman and Powerful responses

Note: Very Long Post!

As you know, 7 years ago everything we thought we knew about our own personal safety was blown to smithereens as we witnessed 2 hijacked planes being driven into the World Trade Center. In memory of all who perished and all who stepped up in our time of need, I thought I’d share just a few words. If you are so moved to, please reply back to this note with anything that comes to mind (or heart).

It was just before 9am on September 11, 2001 and I was at my own powerful words member school. I’d just finished teaching a private lesson and was getting ready to start preparing some marketing campaigns to take further advantage of the back to school rush that we had been experiencing. Then I heard it on the radio – A plane just flew into the World Trade Center in New York City! I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked!

Before I opened my school, I had been a bond trader for Fidelity Investments. My office had been located in the Boston World Trade Center. Many of the people I did business with on a daily basis, however, worked in NYC at the building that had just been hit. My mind went to all the people I knew and I hoped that they were OK. It seemed like such a freak accident – but oh so sad. Then I heard the radio AGAIN – ANOTHER PLANE HAS HIT THE OTHER TOWER! THIS IS NOT AN ACCIDENT!

I felt my heart in my throat and for the first time in a long time I actually feared for my own personal safety and that of my family. I hated that feeling. After calling all of my family members (even those that for one reason or another, I’d not been that close to), I felt a little bit better and felt more comfortable when I got home to my wife, Dr. Robyn Silverman.

For the next couple of days, we were both glued to the Television and watched that horrific image of the towers coming down, over and over and over again until it became permanently burned into our memories. Then we watched in amazement as the first responders did everything they could to rescue those still alive and locate those that hadn’t been as lucky. I was proud to see the camaraderie that was displayed over the following days, weeks, and months after the attack.

Today, Dr. Robyn and I were watching the memorial services and listening to the children of those lost in the attack. All those same emotions came rushing back – it was quite powerful to tell you the truth. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family’s that were robbed of time, love and memories that awful day.

What I realized, and wanted to share with you, is that we know that all of what we have can disappear in just a flash just like 7 years ago. Being grateful is a mere understatement for how we feel about our lives and the path we’ve chosen to travel. We’re honored and blessed that we have the opportunity to help you change lives on a daily basis. It means the world to us that you’ve welcomed us into your schools and into your lives. Thank you for making our journey so amazing.

As I said earlier, I’d love to hear where you were (physically, mentally, and emotionally) 7 years ago if you’d be so kind to share.

Hope you have a Powerful Day!

Jason M. Silverman

Powerful Words Character Development

______________________________________________________________________

Dear Jason and Dr. Robyn,

7 years ago I was just starting my first September rush of enrollment since buying my gymnastics school the previous January. Fall classes had just started on Monday the 10th…I was just finishing dressing to go down to my gym for the AM preschool classes and my husband was in the shower when I saw the report and video on CNN of a plane hitting one of the twin towers. This had some meaning for our family since half of my husband’s family lives in and around NYC and the last problem there had affected his cousin personally.

I literally pulled my husband out of the shower and while we sat there watching CNN we got to witness the second plane hitting the second tower. I will never forget the look on Seth’s face and the pit of fear in my stomach as the realization that we were under attack hit us. In total shock we both went into automatic pilot and without ever losing sight of the TV we both finished dressing. Seth continued to his job and I went in to my gym. It never dawned on us, in our shock and our fear, to do anything else.

Preschool gym classes started with only a handful of children there. Many of the parents present were military parents because my gym is in such close proximity to both McGuire AFB and Ft.Dix Army Base. My instructors looked shell shocked and during breaks kept asking for updates. We kept all information away from the children and kept it “business as usual” with fun activities in class (talk about putting a game face on!). I stood in the lobby with the parents watching our tiny TV. As a group of 10-12 strangers stood there witnessing the towers crashing, the Pentagon getting hit (which REALLY hit home for the military families), and then the news that another airliner was missing, then had been reported as crashed we became bonded as strangers do in times of serious duress. I do not allow customers to see me in serious emotional states but that day

owner, parents, coaches, men, women, and soldiers became simply humans with tears dripping down our faces, hugging each other for comfort in our fear and horror. Then we did what we as resilient parents and humans do the best — we stopped reacting and began proactive.

In a now controlled state of fear, I closed the gym for the remainder of the day — which was fortunate since they put NJ in a state of emergency and all highways were to be cleared by that afternoon. In my first really official act as a leader in a serious situation, I sent all my staff and parents home to be with their families. I called my neighbor and best friend and we cried together on the phone. No one in her family had heard from her brother, a Port Authority Cop who was on the scene after the first plane hit. His cell phone was not working so no one knew if he was still alive (fortunately we were to find out a day later that he had vacated the first tower and was running people down the street when the tower fell — his police cruiser was crushed but he was spared.) Together my friend and I called our children’s schools and we made a plan of how to pick up the six children who at that time were attending 3 different schools with 3 different pick up times. No bus rides home that day — we wanted our children with us!

By 3:00 PM all of my children were home with me, my husband was home from his job. My older two sons (age 13 and 15) sat with us watching CNN reports throughout the night. My youngest son (age 8) simply was not able to handle that. To this day, I will forever salute the Nickelodeon station — while all other stations had coverage of the horrors of the day, Nick kept the cartoons running! My 8 year old NEEDED that as did

many other children in this country who simply did not need the emotional overload of that day. He would come up to say a word or two to us, then retreat back to his TV. No one ate dinner that night and even my teenaged boys wanted nothing. No one except the 8 year old even got any sleep.

Besides fear, grief, and a sense of loss my biggest impression of that night was the SILENCE. It was eerie and I have never heard that kind of silence in my area before or after that night. No one was out, and the only noise you heard was crickets and the occasional sound of sirens going up the turnpike as emergency crews from all over went to help. I remember thinking how weird it was that the crickets would just keep going as normal but why would I expect them to do anything else? No planes, no cars, no one outside, nothing but silence and sirens for the entire night. This was the silence of a nation in shock and it was not the type of silence that “peace and quiet” usually brings. It was the silence of loss — the loss of our security, the loss of friends (with both my husband and I having our MBA’s we knew quite of few people in the twin towers who were lost), the loss of our childrens’ innocence, the loss of personal freedom, and the loss of optimism. I was always a “glass half full” person, until that day. It took many months for my optimism to return — and I still seem to struggle with overdoing the “what-if” scenarios.

Last night my husband watched several specials commerating the 9/11 tragedy. I simply could not sit and watch for more than a minute before all that loss began to overwhelm me again — I began to cry once again (much like I am tearing up simply writing this) and I came to the realization that I do not need to watch specials to remember. I will

NEVER forget. Now, with my 22 year old in the military, I now live with a different fear generated from that day — Iraq is still a reality for many families and it is a direct result of 9/11. While our nation remembers the losses of 9/11, the armed forces are continuing to suffer losses which keeps 9/11 alive for many families every day. I used to go through periods of months where I would not think about 9/11 but ever since my son enlisted I think about it every time he puts on his uniform to go on duty.

I have dedicated my life to working with children, in helping them develop into great people (and sometimes great athletes), and more than anything else, 9/11 instilled in me a greater sense of my purpose. A parent mentioned to me that she was glad that her daughter had gymnatstics last night because the TV specials are very upsetting and this gave her daughter a place to be instead of home watching TV (and I will point out that this is a teenaged child). I am not simply a person who likes to wear sweat pants and run around playing with children for fun — I provide a safe, structured environment for children where they can learn life lessons without trauma. I provide them with something positive to look forward to even when the outside world is crazy. I help shelter them from the bad, put them on an equal footing with their peers no matter their grades in school, athletic skill, or family situation. We (because I do have a great staff that works with me) lead and mold them in to becoming great people. I was very positive about my business before 9/11 but afterwards I realized exactly WHAT I actually provided and what my role was in this world. Remembering 9/11 is always painful but it also reaffirms my purpose.

Terry Veit-Harmening

EnVision Gymnastics, LLC

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Seven years ago, I was here at work and was told by a co-worker what had happened. Believe it or not I hadn’t heard yet as I got to work at 7:00 am. We then turned on news through a computer inside the office where it played all day long. We were in shock, our parent’s were in shock as they came in the door for their child’s class.

The whole day we had CD’s playing in the stereo so as not to upset the children and putting on happy faces all the while we were crying inside. There are no words adequate enough to convey the feelings of that day.

I wish Americans would still behave now as we did then. You felt proud to be an American because WE knew we were not going down without fighting. Our pride needs to show 24/7 365 days a year not just when tragedy strikes.

I am proud to be an American and proud to be the daughter of a United States Marine who was a veteran of the Vietnam War.

Casey Tanon

V.P. & Secretary

GymStars Gymnastics, Inc Stockton, CA

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Oh yes Jason, that memory still burns in me everyday! In addition to my school I have been a fugitive recovery agent since the early 1990’s. I was sitting on my sofa that morning getting ready to go arrest a fugitive when I seen the news begin to cover it live. I thought how the hell did a plane get off coarse to hit the WTC. Then I personally saw the second plane hit the WTC. I knew right at that second we were being ATTACKED!!!

I remained frozen on my sofa felling numb. I didn’t even care about the person I needed to go arrest. At the time he wasn’t a bad guy to me. Just someone who broke the law. Then the ATTACK just kept coming, hitting the Pentagon, then the plane in Penn. It was at that time I remembered that the President was in Sarasota just over the Skyway bridge from us. I thought these people ATTACKING us mean business and they will be going after the President as well. My mind began to run, thinking of what else could happen!! My wife and I ran to our kid’s schools, got our kids home and we all couldn’t even move from the TV until late at night when we couldn’t stay up any longer. However we I went

to bed I only could lay there listening to the TV all night long. What a memory!!! The next morning I finally started to come to the reality that these people really, really, really hate Americans and this is the Holy war that is at hand.

After the incident what I remember is what I believe America needs the most. A coming together and bonding as one body. It was phenomenal what America did to truly become one, it only is a little sad that we can’t keep that sense to stay so strong as it was shortly after the event. I only work on striving to uphold this true American sense of being, myself with each and every person that surrounds me in my life.

To close this flash back, every moment of the rest of my life I will feel so blessed to be an American and how blessed to still have my family with me!!! My only thing left to say is…

May GOD bless those people who lost someone that day and may HE bless America and keep his hand of protection on us all!!!

Jason thank you for allowing me to share this special moment.

Master Tim McCahan

St.Petersburg, Fl

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Jason and Dr. Robyn,

I spent 20 years and 20 days in the service of the NYPD.

On September 22,  2000 I retired. I spent about 8 years of my career in Manhattan.

Those buildings were majestic and every time I stood in front of them only one thing used to enter my mind. What if these building ever fell, I always thought that if they fell they would tip over never thinking that they would implode on themselves.  On September 11, 2001 my fears became reality.

When I turned on the TV I saw the first tower fall I. truly believed my brother was dead. My brother Michael worked in the building. I didn’t realize that many of the occupants had enough time to escape.  He was lucky ones to escape without injury.

But the scars of the day remain.  He witnessed people jumping from the floors to escape the fire.   One of my student’s brother wasn’t so lucky, he lost his life in the building. My childhood friend Battalion Chief Orio Palmer lost his life in the building trying to save people and so did a colleague Police Officer John D’Allara. We worked together in the 46 Precinct.   I will never forget the people that lost their lives that day and the rescue people that continue to lose their lives from the toxic fumes that our government told them were safe.  I really do not believe that the whole story is being told and I hope to live long enough to get the true story.

Thank Y ou
Shihan Gary Gione
Elite Defensive Tactics, NY

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Hey Jason,

I clearly remember the events of that morning as well. I had also just finished a private lesson and was stopping at a convenience store to grab some breakfast when the first reports came over the radio. I called my wife and asked her to check out CNN and see if she could figure out was going on. She turned on the TV just in time to witness live the second plane impact on the tower. I can still vividly remember how I felt, holding on to my 5-month old daughter, watching the first tower collapse, and wondering what kind of world I’d brought her into. Every protective instinct in me was on fire, to shield my family from that horror. I’d have to say that in light of and maybe because of the events that day, I have tried to appreciate each day for the miracles it reveals, and that I’ve not only grown closer to my family but to God as well.

May our country never have to suffer a wound like that again. May we also never forget.

God Bless America!

Rob K.

KMAI

Hockessin, DE

Landenberg, PA

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Please share your stories…

September 11: Time For Gratitude

On this day, September 11th,  it’s hard to not feel reflective.

I remember when I was about 4 years old. I was with my grandmother (an amazing little blond-haired woman that everyone—I mean everyone–called “Nanny”). We were in the front of the grocery store and a news crew was there. They stopped us and asked Nanny “where were you when Kennedy was assassinated?” My Nanny recalled where she was and what she was doing. That day comes to mind because I believe that I might be walking with my grandchild one day—and someone will stop me and ask where I was on September 11th 2001. It’s just one of those days that forever more, will be etched in the memories of millions of people.

Today, in honor of those who died, it seems the best thing to do is to show respect by being grateful for what we have and what others have done for us. We must teach our children everyday, and especially on days like today, that we are indeed fortunate in so many ways. We must be thankful. We must go out of our way to express gratitude. Today of all days, even if we feel a little awkward, it’s the time to make a point of showing appreciation for the blessings that have touched our lives.

How can we teach our children gratitude?

(1) Model it: When someone does something for you, expand on the typical thank-you. Allow your children to see that saying thank-you is accompanied with a smile, a thank-you card, or other sincere recognition of gratitude. The more they see it, the more they’ll do it.

(2) Make a Gratitude List: At the dinner table or before bed, ask your family why they are grateful. Write down the answers in a family gratitude journal or use it to help form a family bucket list. Not only is this a nice way to bring the discussion of gratitude to the forefront, it’ll be fun to look back over the years and see how the “objects of gratitude” have changed with age and maturity. Today, of all days, we can be grateful for our safety, for our troops, and for our loved ones.

(3) Role Play: Use stories to teach your children what to do when someone goes out of their way to help you. Ask how each person in the story must feel when they hear words of gratitude expressed. You can also tell stories in which the receiver does not thank the giver. How do you think that made the giver feel? What do you think might happen next time? Lastly, why not role play what your child would say if s/he met a soldier or a service worker who is helping to keep us safe while we go about our day?

(4) Point it out: Did Grandma come over for last minute baby-sitting? Did your neighbor Charlie come by to fix the sink at 9pm? Point out to your children how nice it was for a family member or friend to take time out of their day to help out the family. Today, point out how others are still showing gratitude for those who helped them on 9/11. You are passing on knowledge that things do not magically get fixed but rather, they take time, knowledge, and skill on the part of various people. Then show them how you follow up with a gesture of gratitude!

(5) Purge and Abstain: Sometimes, we have to teach our children to give items or time away to charity. Being the “giver” can be very fulfilling and can help a lot of people. Still, many people who lost mothers and fathers on 9/11 are in need. By the same token, “going without” something can also show children how grateful they are to have certain privileges and possessions. Going without TV or computer access for a week or walking rather than driving to an in-town destination can help children remember to be grateful for their blessings.

(6) Notice it: Be sure to reinforce your child’s gesture of gratitude when you see it. For example, if your child says, “Thanks for driving me to practice,” say “You’re welcome! I appreciate you saying that—it means a great deal to me” instead of “Of course I drove you” or “How else would you get here?”

(7) Talk about people who are less fortunate: Whether you’re pointing out that some families have less or your discussing those families who’ve had to deal with loss, you’re helping your children to understand how to count their blessings. In the face of 9/11, it’s vital that your children are taught (in an age-appropriate way) that others are feeling sad or suffering today because of what happened 7 years ago.

Hug your children today a little tighter. Let them know how much you appreciate them. On days like today, it’s so important to stop the daily grind to remember how truly lucky we really are.

Please share; Where were you when the tragedies of 9/11 happened? What are you grateful for today?

We appreciate all of you.

The Weight of School Culture

I’m not sure how many of you know, but I’ve been studying girls, body image, confidence and success for quite a long time.  In fact, a good chunk of my work at Tufts University was on how girls feel they “fit in” to a culture that tends to sensationalize thinness and to reject people the more they deviate from the thin ideal. This cultural issue has a high cost. It isn’t only a problem because it creates a hotbed for eating disordered behavior and poor self worth, but also because it can cultivate social problems such as bullying, social rejection, and academic challenges.

A new study shows that a supportive, respectful peer culture, which makes children feel as though they “fit in” is just as important to a student’s success as high academic expectations.  Specifically, those students who were categorized as clinically “obese” were less likely to go to college than those students who were considered of medically “normal” weight. This finding was much more severe for girls than for boys.

Who did it? Robert Crosnoe, University of Texas, with colleague, Chandra Muller

You can have the best curriculum in the world, and if there’s something messed up in the culture, then you set out to fail…anytime you put 1,000 kids together, you’re creating a culture. (Crosnoe)

Where was it published? July issue of Sociology of Education

Where did the data come from? Crosnoe used data collected on nearly 11,000 teens from 128 schools from around the U.S. as part of the ongoing National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, the largest and most comprehensive survey of health-related behavior among teens between 7th and 12th grade, which started in 1994.

What did he find?

Teens who were categorized as “obese” tended to have to cope with more social isolation.

They were less likely to go to college or take advanced math and science classes even though their peers were doing so. (Crosnoe)

Gender Issues

Girls who were considered obese were less likely to attend college than thin girls.

“The more it makes you stand out from the crowd, the worse it is,” says Crosnoe.

  • How do I measure up? Girls are more likely to compare themselves to their female classmates and peers around them than are boys. Because body appearance is more central to girls’ self-concept than to boys’, it’s likely that this gender difference implies that weight has a more powerful effect on the lives of girls and their academic careers.
  • Fitting in and Standing Out: In school cultures in which students were less likely to be considered clinically obese and overweight, 61% of “obese” girls didn’t continue school.  However, in a school in which at least 1/3 of students were indeed considered medically obese, only 17% of “obese” girls did not go on.

“Your school and your culture affects how you view academics and your future.  Social ups and downs are a big distraction…many of the kids said it’s hard to sit and do your homework when you’re worried about what will happen in school the next day.” (Crosnoe)

Beating the Odds: Resilient Kids

  • How did some socially isolated students do well despite their social problems?  Key characteristics: very supportive parents, at least one good friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend, and finding a niche in an extracurricular activity.

Again, it’s underscored: Enrolling your child in a positive extracurricular activity where character, confidence, connection, individual competence, caring and compassion are stressed, such as in an academy that is using Powerful Words Character Development, is more important than ever.  Children who may not be socially thriving in school can still be extremely successful if they receive the support, education, and chance to succeed in an extracurricular activity like martial arts, gymnastics, swimming, dance, cheer, or other powerful after-school opportunity.  Parents who need a recommendation, please contact our team.

How did you fit into your school culture?  How has your child found his or her place within the school culture?  How do you see a powerful extracurricular helping this situation? Please share your “secrets” so we can spread the ideas to all those who can use them!

Please comment below.

Have a Powerful Day!