Fairness is the Powerful Word of the Month!

Dr. Robyn Silverman Announces the Powerful Word of the Month: Fairness

Fairness Quotes:

“I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” (Bill Watterson)

“Equality does not create fairness.  It’s fairness that creates equality.” (Dr. Robyn Silverman)

“The plain truth is that I am not a fair man, and don’t want to hear both sides” (Henry Louis Mencken)

“People of character will never compromise the justice of others.” (Duane Hodgin)

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” (Groucho Marx)

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself” (Eleanor Roosevelt)

“Expecting the world to be fair to you because you are a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.” (Dennis Wholey)

“All some folks want is their fair share and yours.” (Arnold H. Glasgow)

“All is fair in love and war.” (Proverb)

Parents! Rise in Kiddie Kidney Stones Due to Salty Foods

Attention Parents!

A Rise in Kidney Stones in Children Due to Salty Processed Foods?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

As if we needed another reason not to feed our children processed foods.

We’ve talked about the rise in cholesterol, weight, and now…kidney stones in children.

“I thought older men get kidney stones, not kids,” Mother of 11 year-old Tessa Cesario, aspiring ballerina, who was diagnosed with kidney stones last February

Why kidney stones when you thought that it was a middle-age problem? No surprise here. The high salt content in processed and fast foods is contributing to kidney stones in children as young as 5 or 6 years old. As parents, how can we be responsible?  Are we responsible?

What’s going on? Though much of the research is on adult patients, experts believe that kidney stones in children are due to dietary factors. Kidney stones are crystallizations of several different substances in urine. When these substances become increasingly concentrated, kidney stones form.

Major factors? High salt intake and low fluid intake. These risk factors increase the amount of calcium and oxalate in the urine, the culprits in the formation of 40-65 percent of kidney stones.

Where’s all the salt coming from? Salty foods like chips and French fries as well as common lunchbox stuffers; processed sandwich meats, canned soups, pre-packed meals, and energy drinks like Gatorade.

“What we’ve really seen is an increase in the salt load in children’s diet,” –Dr. Bruce L. Slaughenhoupt, co-director of the pediatric kidney stone clinic and the pediatric urology at the University of Wisconsin

Remember our discussion from Fast Food Flops For Tots? Besides being almost always too high in calories, 45 percent of the kids’ meals at the 13 chains studied by CSPI are too high in saturated and trans fat, and 86 percent are too high in SODIUM. And what the salt in these common lunchbox stuffers?

  • Oscar Mayer Lunchables Deluxe Turkey and Ham with Swiss and Cheddar, 1 package= 1940 mg of sodium
  • Oscar Mayer Lunchables Megapak Pizza Deep Dish Extra Cheesy, 1 package= 1240 mg of sodium
  • Oscar Mayer Lunchables Megapak Deep Dish Pepperoni, 1 package= 1250 mg of sodium

*Recommended salt intake for children? Everyone needs some salt– but not a lot!

  • Less than 1g per day from 0-6 month;
  • 1g per day from 7-12 months;
  • 2g per day from 1-3 years;
  • 3g per day from 4-6 years;
  • 5g per day from 7-10 years.

* These are maximum levels– aim for less.

Why the problem with fluid intake? Children aren’t drinking enough water throughout the day—especially not in school. They only drink when thirsty and by that time it may be too little water too late.

    “They don’t want to go to the bathroom at school; they don’t have time, so they drink less,” said Dr. Alicia Neu, medical director of pediatric nephrology and the pediatric stone clinic at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.

Any other contributors? Soda. Evidence shows that sucrose, found in sodas, can also increase risk of kidney stones in children. In addition, high-protein weight-loss diets, popular with teens, can also contribute to a higher incidence of kidney stones.

Median Age for Kidney Stones in Children: 10 years old

Possible description? While some have mentioned “obesity” as a possible factor, most doctors admit that children with healthy weights can suffer from kidney stones as well.

    “Of the school-age and adolescent kids we’ve seen, most of them appear to be reasonably fit, active kids,” Dr. Nelson said. “We’re not seeing a parade of overweight Nintendo players.”

    “There’s no question in my mind that it is largely dietary and directly related to the childhood obesity epidemic,” Dr. Pope, Nashville

Family History Connection? Yes, 60% of the time. If a child has a family history of kidney stones, it’s very important to recognize their risk, curb high salt consumption, and increase hydration.

How will I know? Children with kidney stones may complain of stomach aches, severe pain in their side or stomachs, feeling sick to their stomach, or even have blood in their urine.

What can I do now? Encourage your children to drink more water both at home and in school. Stay away from processed foods, read the labels on canned soups and look for low sodium varieties or make your own and freeze them in small amounts. Switch soda for more healthful options—some of which are listed here. Get your children on board and teach them the components of a healthful lunch and how to take care of their bodies so that they stay healthy for a long, long time.

What do you think? Do you believe our children are eating too much salt? Is this just the beginning? Are our children’s diets getting worse? Do you have any tips or ideas? Changes you’ve made? Share your story below.

Dr. Robyn’s Halloween Safety Tips for Families

10 Halloween Safety Tips and Tricks for Children, Parents, Pets, and Families

Dr. Robyn Silverman (Sign up for Dr. Robyn’s feed)

Halloween is a fun and exciting holiday for children and adults. But in order to keep Halloween and fair for children, teens, pets, and parents, everyone should be aware—and commit to– these 10 Halloween safety tips. Trick or Treating is always more fun when nobody gets hurt!

(1) Guarantee Halloween Supervision: No child should trick or treat by themselves even if they’re in a familiar neighborhood. Make sure a parent, other trusted adult, or teen-aged sibling or sitter can take your son or daughter from house to house.

a. If your child wants to expresses that they’re “big enough” to go without supervision, see if you feel comfortable allowing them to approach the houses on their own while you stay in full view on the sidewalk.

b. Know the route your child will be taking if you aren’t personally going with them.

c. Teens should go in a group—they might be older but the buddy system is always safer (and more fun!) than going it alone.

d. If the supervisor is a teen, be sure to discuss ground rules so everyone’s on the same page.

(2) Establish a Curfew: If your children are going with a sitter, older sibling, or other trusted adult, ensure that you agree on a time by which they should be home. Time discrepancies can cause undue anxiety—get it out of the way so you don’t have to think about it.

a. So there isn’t any question about what time it is, ensure that your child wears a watch s/he can easily see in the dark.

b. Make sure s/he knows how important it is to be home on time.

c. The adult or supervisor may want to carry a cell phone for quick communication—however, be sure that the supervisor isn’t talking or texting while s/he should be paying attention to your child!

(3) Ensure Powerful Character: Even if you’re not the one accompanying your child on the Trick or Treating Trip, talk to your child about using their Powerful Words and doing the right thing even when nobody’s looking or in the face of peer pressure. Encourage your children to make good choices based on values and character.

a. Vandalizing someone else’s house or property is never OK even if you’ve heard that “mischief night” or Halloween are exceptions. They’re not.

b. Hurting or throwing things at animals or other children won’t be tolerated.

c. In the immortal words of my grandmother, Thelma (“Nanny”), “please and thank-you are not dirty words.”

(4) Remember Halloween Costume Safety: Some costumes might be cute or funny—but if the children can’t see well out of the masks or can’t move well in the body of the costume, they aren’t the best choice. Children need to be able to see so that they can easily cross the street safely, walk up and down steps without incident, and move out of the way of danger, if necessary, with ease.

a. Costumes should be fire retardant or flame resistant. Candles and jack o’ lanterns are common on Halloween and accidents sometimes happen.

b. Ensure good peripheral vision out of the eye holes of masks, if used.

c. Be careful of Halloween props: If swords, sabers, pitch forks, or other items are used, be sure that they’re smooth, safe, flexible, and of no danger to anyone who might touch it, trip over it, or fall on it.

d. Make sure the costume fits. Shoes shouldn’t be too lose or too tight (even if they look good!) and costumes shouldn’t drag on the ground.

e. Just a note: Please refrain from putting your youngsters in “sexy” Halloween costumes. They send a twisted message that is both unintentional and inappropriate. Need I say more?

(5) Be Pumpkin Safe: Carving pumpkins can be a fun activity to do with children. However, young children should not be using sharp knives to carve out the pumpkin themselves. An adult should do that part.

a. While there are kits that allow children to do some carving, be careful. Children can still cut themselves. If your child is using such a kit, be sure to educate fully and supervise.

b. You can always have your child decorate the pumpkin with a permanent marker and other fun items like feathers, paints, stickers, and googly eyes. This is safer and just as fun.

(6) Make your Home Halloween Safe: Nothing ruins Halloween fun more than an accident on your property! While Halloween is often about “darkness” and “spooky props” remember safety first.

a. Your home should be well lit so that no child (or adult) trips over anything on the way to or from your door.

b. Set candles and jack o’ lanterns away from the door and walkway so that no costume is accidentally set on fire. Keep paper or other decorations away from any fire. You can also choose to use a battery powered light source or light stick in the place of live candles.

c. Be careful that no fire source is within reach of your pets. Wagging tails and excited animals can lead to accidents when fire is around. In addition, leave pets inside around Halloween time—aside from some stupid tricks some may want to play, the neighborhood children may not know that feeding animals candy can be dangerous.

(7) Educate Children about Halloween Safety: It’s been a year. Refresh your children’s memory about obeying traffic laws, not going inside anyone’s home, staying on sidewalks (when available), and being aware of the surroundings.

a. Children should carry a flashlight if they’re going in the late afternoon or evening time.

b. Children and teens should wear reflective clothes or reflective tape so that cars can see them.

c. Remind children not to get into anyone’s car and to always remain with the group and teen/adult supervisor.

d. Children should stay on a familiar, approved route—no short cuts through yards, parks, back alleys or dimly lit, less traveled areas. They might be used to taking short cuts across neighbor’s yards during day light hours, so be sure to impress upon them the importance of staying on populate paths during Halloween.

(8) Let’s talk Candy: Children can rack up a lot of candy on Halloween. Make sure your child isn’t eating it until you’ve taken a look through it and discarded anything opened or sketchy-looking.

a. Feed children a good, nutritious dinner before they go Trick or Treating so they don’t make a meal of the candy they collect from the neighbors.

b. Make sure you read candy ingredients if you are unsure if they contain anything to which your child may be allergic. If you still are unsure after reading the contents, you can always make your own treats.

c. While you don’t need to replace all candy with carrots, you also don’t have to allow your children to eat all their candy at once! Perhaps you’ve read some of my articles on how much sugar  is poured into the items children eat and drink these days. While Halloween only comes on comes once per year, that doesn’t mean that the children need to eat a year’s worth of candy in once sitting!

(9) Keep Pets Safe: There are a lot of people around on Halloween and not all of them know how to handle themselves around your family pets.

a. Warn children against feeding candy to pets or neighborhood animals. This can cause the animals to get very sick and can attract other, perhaps not as welcomed animals, to your child’s bag of candy!

b. Put a sign on your door that you have a pet (yes, even if friendly!) so that children are aware before ringing your doorbell. You don’t want them to accidentally open your door and let the cat out or be licked by a dog when they’re scared or allergic.

c. Pets might look cure in costumes but make sure that the costumes are safe and comfortable for the animal in question!

(10) Prepare Ahead: We still have a couple of days before Halloween so safety preparations can be made. Don’t wait until the day to talk about how to stay safe and make good choices on Halloween.

a. Make sure that your child knows his name, address and phone number. If s/he gets separated from the group, you can be reached. For young children, an address tag can be discreetly attached to their costume.

b. Review “Stop, Drop, and Roll.” While we are all aware that we need to be vigilant about candles, jack o’ lanterns, and other possible outside fire sources on Halloween, not everyone might. Teaching your children to Stop, Drop, and Roll can be a life saver. Talk about watching where you go but also what to do in the rare event that something on them catches fire.

c. Remind them that they can call 9-1-1 to get the police if there is an emergency. Go over some examples of emergencies in which 9-1-1 would be helpful or necessary.

From the Powerful Words family to yours, have a very Safe, Fun, and Happy Halloween! Do you have any great Halloween Tips for other families?  Please share below!


Jupiter Images

Picture of my niece, Evie

City of Chiliwack website

8 Ways to Teach Children to Be “Greener”

It’s our responsibility to help our children learn how to be more environmentally responsible and consciences.  It’s always the perfect time to talk about environmental responsibility– but especially this month, as our Powerful Word is Responsibility. Colleague and “green mommy with girl wonder,” Kirsten Aadahl, takes us through how parents can be educators, mentors, and examples to their children to protect and sustain a healthy planet.The environment is a hot topic today– but like anything, education begins at home.  Please welcome our guest, Kirsten Aadahl.

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

8 Tips for Parents to Help Their Children Become More Eco-Friendly

Welcome Guest Blogger; Kirsten Aadahl

As adults, we all know we should be taking care of our environment more but busy schedules and lifestyles sometimes prevent us from doing what we know is right. The time has long past, though, and as a society we need to take responsibility for the environmental situation we’re in right now. We need to start teaching children what this means so it becomes a natural part of their life. When asked what the best way is to help children learn to “go green”, my simple answer is teach by example.

Before I had my daughter 10 months ago, I was a Special Education, fifth grade teacher for 15 years. Teaching by example, or modeling, was my motto and I still stand by this belief. If you want your children to adopt a more environmentally friendly outlook, you need to show them that you have too. Make sure you present these practices in a way that your child will understand, depending on their age. Help them to see how saving resources impacts their lives and what they can do to make things better. Here are some examples:

  • Recycle: Have bins for recycling outside your home and let your child sort paper, glass and plastic. Recycle toys by asking your child if they know of any younger friends who may want them instead of throwing them in the trash. Recycle clothes by asking your child if you can both pick out items that don’t fit anymore and give them to family members. Do you live near a recycling center? If so, take your child for visit so they can see where all of their hard work goes to and what happens to it.
  • Reuse: Pack your child’s lunch in reusable BPA-free containers. Give them their juice, milk or water in a reusable BPA-free reusable water bottle and help them understand the amount of plastic water bottles the world uses each day that usually aren’t recycled. When products are purchased at a store, help your child generate ideas of how the packaging can be used again for arts and crafts or building, in the case of boxes. Reuse school supplies each year that are still in good shape.
  • Reduce: When you’re out shopping with your child, in addition to using it as a learning experience with math, help them to choose items with less packaging and ones that are more easily recyclable.
  • Use your public library or used book stores: All children should have special books of their own but they should also have a library card if you have a library in your town. Teach your child how borrowing books or buying used books saves trees and resources. Take out books on endangered species and the environment that are geared towards their age group.
  • Ride your bicycle when you can or walk with your child to run errands and explain what pollution is and why the Earth has it.
  • Line dry your washed clothes and let your child help.
  • If you have a backyard, start a compost. Let your child be “in charge” of paying attention to which scraps of food you produce that can be added to it. Plant a garden in the spring with the dirt they’ve helped to make.
  • Save energy: Keep your thermostat at a lower setting in the winter time and wear sweaters instead. Use blankets to snuggle in as you read together or play games.
Teaching your children to be “greener” doesn’t have to be difficult. If you’re an active participant, these principles will become a lifestyle for them, which in turn will help their own generation and generations to come.
BIO: Kirstin is a new mother and former teacher. She can be found at her computer each day, while her Little One sleeps, as she writes on her blog, “Trying To Be Greener: Safer eco-living, one day at a time.”  She can also be found as her alter ego superhero, “The Green Mommy with Girl Wonder”, at “EcoWomen: Protectors of the Planet!”
Thank you, Kirsten.  Please comment below or ask our guest some questions!
Photo credits:
(1) Jupiter Images
(2) Flickr photo by Chris Gin

Shitarayn and Other Life Lessons

Where did you learn that?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

After writing my last article on 7 Ways to Raise a Prejudice Child, I started thinking about where I got my values from…

General Media? No.

Friends? Not really.

Janice Dickenson and Miley Cyrus? Certainly not.

According to the National Cultural Values Survey of 2000 American adults 18 or older, 74% say that they believe moral values in America are weaker than they were 20 years ago. It’s easy to blame the media and leave it at that. But as parents, we know there is more to it. Media might be global but parents are a direct hit.

When I think of the people who have really shaped my values, I don’t think of the Brady Bunch or Beverly Hills 90210, I think of the people who have taken the time to teach me right from wrong. I think of the people who model positive values in my life, even today.

Here are three of the gems I keep in my back pocket:

Keep your eyes on your own plate: My Dad always told me to “keep my eyes on my own plate.” Literally. I used to point to my sometimes devilish second oldest, brother, Scott, at the dinner table and appeal to my father, “Dad, Scott’s making faces at me.” To which my Dad would silently point to his plate with a big smile and raised eyebrows. We all knew what that meant. Where does this get me today? How often have you felt that people are trying to distract you? Frustrate you? Divert your attentions? We must teach our children that there is no need to bother with trivial things people are doing in our periphery. We must concentrate on our own paths if we are to get where we want to go. Focus.

Shitarayn: When in doubt, just shitarayn (pronounced shit-a-rine). I am not trying to be crass here, folks, it’s just Yiddish. Ma and Pa Silverman, married 69 years (“and not long enough” as Ma always adds), taught me this one. It literally means, “pour it in.” When cooking, if you know the basic ingredients, you don’t need to be so mindful of precise measuring—just throw it in. In other words, trust your gut. How often do we need to do that in life? The last time I visited Ma and Pa, Ma taught me how to make her famous cranberry Jello mold (how’s that for nostalgia?). “You have to do it by feel. It will be great. Go ahead. Shitarayn!” What an important lesson to pass on to our children; if you have the right ingredients–trust your gut, and just know it will come out great. Courage.

The Answer Can Be Yes or No: It was Fall of 1982 and I was trying on dresses. I fell in love with a peach-colored dress with a big bow in the back. I came waltzing into the hallway and asked Scott (yes the same brother who sometimes made faces at the dinner table), “do you like it?” To which he replied, “no.” I was heartbroken. Scott put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Robyn, when you ask a question, you must expect one of two answers, yes or no. It’s nothing to get upset about.” In other words, not everyone is going to agree with you, so what’s the big deal? We need to teach our children to be open-minded to different opinions while still making their own decisions based on what they know is best for them. Acceptance and Confidence.

Where do you learn your life lessons? Tell us your stories!

While teaching your children about strengthening their character through Powerful Words this month, you might just interject some of your own personal stories. No need for a specific formula or moment. Just shitarayn.

Please comment below. Where did you learn your life lessons?

7 Ways to Raise a Prejudiced Child

How to Raise a Racist, Sexist, Ageist, Sizeist, Prejudiced Child

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Racism. Sexism. Ageism. Sizeism. Prejudice is ugly and transferable.

After Grandmother, Gayle Quinnell declared that “Barack Obama is an Arab” during a John McCain rally (to his dismay), and justified that this, albeit false, information was good reason for her prejudice reaction to the next possible president of the United States, I cringed. No matter what your political affiliation, it’s these kinds of statements that go against positive forward movement in the United States and the rest of the world. What further disturbed me was, in an impromptu interview with Ms. Quinnell after the rally, she bragged that this is the kind of information she was freely feeding her children. Children are impressionable and prejudice is transferable.

Know anyone like this? Have you seen it before?

Here are just a few ways that people teach children how to be prejudice—whether we’re talking about racism, sexism, ageism or any other “ism” you can think of:

(1) It’s in your physical reactions: Even young children and babies can feel the difference when a parent holds them tighter in a neighborhood that makes them uncomfortable or around a person that makes them squeamish. Imagine that every time a parent opens the door to receive a package from a black UPS delivery person, s/he is terse, jittery, rude, or close-bodied but every time a parent opens the door for a white UPS delivery person, s/he is positive, kind, and relaxed. You might think that children won’t pick up on this—but next to you, your children probably can sense body changes in you fastest and easiest. The message becomes clear; “Black people make my parents feel uncomfortable, therefore they must be bad.”

(2) It’s in your choice of words: Everything that comes out of your mouth when your children are around is likely heard—even if you don’t think it is. That means that what you shout at the TV, how you explain who you’re voting for in the upcoming election and what you say about other drivers while in your car may just be imbedded in a young child’s lexicon forever. One of my coaching clients mentioned one day that they were in their traffic with their 3 year old when they stopped short. Wile the parent said nothing, the youngster exclaimed, “Old people shouldn’t drive!” Now, where do you think she heard that before?

(3) It’s in your reactions towards them: When your children say something rude or prejudice, the way you react is worth a thousand words. For example, when a male teacher came to me and said that one of his 5 year old male students, while watching a female classmate demonstrate a skill in class, said “blond girls are airheads,” he couldn’t help but laugh. He had heard the same statement from the boy’s father while he was—get this—cooing his 2 year old daughter. Our laughter only reinforces these statements and adds fuel to the fire.

(4) It’s in your choices: Here’s a very subtle one rooted in the past and caused many arguments in my house when I was young and wanted to do whatever my brothers did. If you choose to allow your boys to do things that you declare your girls shouldn’t do or can’t do, you are brewing up stereotyping and prejudice. So, for example, one of my girls from my preteen coaching group, Sassy Sisterhood, said in group, “Whenever we need to move the chairs and desks around in class, my teacher only picks the boys.” What does that say to the girls?

(5) It’s in the way you take responsibility : Upon hearing children say prejudice remarks, you can either choose to take responsibility or not. Denial is certainly a strong reaction. Many people believe that children can’t understand what is being said or done—but while they may not process it all in the same way as an adult, they do indeed process it. Shrugging off responsibility for racism, sexism, sizeism, or ageism, is not helpful. You are right—they may not have gotten it from you—but it still remains our responsibility to teach them the right way to react to others, isn’t it?

(6) It’s in the way you accept yourself: Do you look in the mirror and bash your “fat thighs” [fat=bad] or swear at your “old wrinkly skin” [old=bad]? Do you joke with your family over the holiday table about needing to fix your “huge Italian nose” or your “Asian eyelids” [Race=Different=Bad]? You are your children’s role models. Your children hear this—they see it—and they process it. When we don’t accept what makes us who we are, how can we expect our children to accept themselves? In this case, parents are teaching children to reject these features in themselves as well as in others.

(7) It’s in who surrounds them: You probably heard the statement “surround yourself with positive people.” When it comes to children they tend to become similar to the people with whom they spend time—it’s part of positive assimilation with a group. Therefore, when you surround your children with people who make statements laced with prejudice or act or react with prejudice motives, your children have a great chance of adopting similar prejudices. One boy, age 7, told me that his Uncle kept calling him a redneck since the family moved to Texas a year before. He didn’t really know what it meant, but from what his Uncle said, he gleaned that it wasn’t a good thing. The boy was actually having trouble making friends and was certain he wanted to move back to New York.

As parents, it’s vital that we first admit when there’s a problem and then work to take responsibility and correct it. Watch your actions, your reactions, and your words. Remember to stop generalizing about groups of people—it sells others short and robs your children of learning from others and enjoying the individual gifts they bring to the table. It also shoved your children in a corner and causes them to be narrow-minded.

Surround your children with people of unique backgrounds who celebrate themselves and where they have come from so that your children are more likely to adopt a more accepting, open-minded, and global worldview. We must find role models that don’t fail our children. And finally, talk to your children about prejudice—tell them how you feel about it—your family values and why prejudice is limiting both to others and to oneself.

When it comes down to it, parents and educators must be sensitive to the transference of prejudice is they are going to stop the cycle.

I’m very interested in your comments and your experiences with children and prejudice.  Please comment below.

When Role Models Fail Us: Where Does It Leave the Children?

When Police Officers, Celebrities, and the Government Fail to be Role Models

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

We all make mistakes. It’s human. But we don’t always clean up our messes. As adults—parents, educators, and mentors—we play an important role in teaching children how to cope with mistakes. It’s not always pretty—it’s not always easy—but it’s the responsible thing to do.

But what happens when our role models fail us?

Police Officers: For example, we teach our children that police officers are role models. They look out for us and keep us safe. We may know they aren’t infallible—but we often gloss over that part when we explain their roles to children. They are therefore held in high regard as the people who can do know wrong since they seemingly make what’s wrong right in the world. But after the lack of justice served for Ashley McIntosh (my niece’s 33 year old assistant teacher who was killed last February), parents and educators are still in an uproar. The courts ruled that the police officer, Amanda Perry, didn’t need to take any responsibility for crashing into a young Fairfax County citizen when traveling through a red light without her siren on during a slick, icy night. How can we teach children and teens to take responsibility for themselves and our role models refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes?

Note: 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.

Celebrities: Our children look to celebrities for inspiration and are often crushed when things don’t go as expected. The world seemed to stop cold when Miley Cyrus posed for Vanity Fair in April. She was the real life Disney princess—the everydaughter—the everyfriend—and both parents and young girls felt blindsided by her decision to pose for Annie Leibovitz with only a sheet covering her. She didn’t take responsibility. Nobody did. How can we teach our children and teens the importance of taking responsibility when those in limelight refuse to do so?

Government: Children and teens look to local and national government officials and something to aspire to in their later years. Every child wants to be in charge, don’t they? Many dream of becoming president! But during a year of scandal and shame, in which government has been often equated with adultery, failure, partisanship, and disappointment we must wonder what our children are thinking. Who wants to aspire to be THAT ? When golden parachutes open for those who steal, lie, and cheat, can we really teach our children that it’s best to admit mistakes, take responsibility, and clean up their messes?

What is your role in teaching children to take responsibility?

Redefine role models: Teach your children that people don’t become role models because they hold a particular position—that’s just their job. An oval office or a red carpet doesn’t make a role model. From police officers to celebrities to the little old lady down the street, people become role models because of their character and what they do. And of course- don’t forget to look in the mirror to see their most important role model…you.

Show them that role models are all around us: It’s true. Role models can be found everywhere and anywhere. They may be the responsible babysitter next door who always calls if she’s running a few minutes late or the stay at home mother who volunteers at the local animal shelter twice a week. They can be the teacher who stays an hour after school to help a struggling student or the business man who spends his Saturdays being a “Big Brother” to a child in need. They are every color, every size, every age, and every shape. Find these role models and expose your child to them.

Teach them that role models are not infallible but fix their mistakes: Even those with the best character are not immune to mistakes. That’s not the point. It’s what role models do with those mistakes once they make them. A true role model, whether they’re high ranking officials or a coaches at a Powerful Words Member School program always makes full attempts to mop up their messes and leave things better than they were before they were made.

Be the role model they deserve: Children need to know that for a great role model, they don’t have to look farther than their own home or schools. Parents and teachers must hold themselves to the highest standards. No matter what’s on TV or in the movies, you are the superheroes in their worlds. So try not to make huge mistakes—but if you do—work on fixing them…fast.  Post this up in your minds– if I knew my actions were setting the precedent for the next generation of leaders, would I be doing this? If not, stop. If you already did, see tip #3.

Teach them to be the role model they desire: Children need to know that what they choose to do is important if they want to be leaders. Ask them, how would a great leader handle this problem? What choice should the leader in you make? When they see themselves as leaders and are certain that you expect and know that they can be a powerful role model, they will rise to the occasion 9 out of 10 times.

Tell them to keep their heads high and their eyes on their own plate: This advice came straight from my father while I was growing up. Children and teens need to be confident in their own decisions. They can’t worry about what everyone is doing, thinking, or saying. When we focus on our own goals, other people’s choices don’t throw us.

Talk about mistakes and ask them for their opinions: When role models make mistakes, allow your children and teens to talk about it in their own words. Ask questions. Allow them to vent. Children need to know that they can come to you and talk openly about their frustration, confusion, and concerns. When you simply make yourself “available” to talk and listen, you are teaching them to become critical thinkers and helping them to realize that they can disagree with their role models or even change their minds about them. Talking it out will help them to digest what they’ve heard, expand their minds, and make decisions.

Of course, role models will continue to make blunders. We will continue to make mistakes. But we can’t throw up our hands and say “there’s nothing I can do.” That statement is simply untrue and irresponsible. We have to do better by our children if we want them to do better—be better—think better—as they grow, develop, and lead.

Please comment below– any ideas on how to deal with the failure of role models? We want to hear what you have to say!

Happy Columbus Day-

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Dr. Robyn featured on Bigg Success Radio Show

Previous Powerful Parenting blog post article; Grow up!  How were Treating Our Children Like Little Adults, in which we discussed 5 ways that children were forced to grow up too soon, was featured today on the internet radio show Bigg Success.

Click here to listen and read the write up.

Some recent comments related to the article:

This *is* disturbing. Children are no longer needed in families for help on the farm, or to help with anything really. They’re accessories (which I’ve opined a little about on my blog) and we’re treating them as such.

I’m not the best about making my kids get out and play. I need to get better about that. I need to be better with that myself! (Vicki, NotsoSahm)

My two young boys, 7 and 3, LOVE the outdoors! For the longest time I was terrified of dirt, germs, and anything else that wasn’t sanitized. That all changed with our latest military move from a large city environment to a more country like setting. They now play in dirt and mud *gasp*, go fishing and grab live fish *double gasp*, and catch interesting bugs and spiders in jars. Yes, they smell when we get home, yes they get dirty and scraped but they love it, AND it’s healthy for them. I can’t imagine what would happen if I trapped them indoors and didn’t let them experience unstructured play. What a depressing thought. (Mrs. X)

This is a FANTASTIC post! I linked to you from Best Post of the Week.

You are so right on in these points!

We are striving to let our kids be kids and to let them have an unhurried childhood! We’ve refused thus far to enroll them in every available activity and have preferred unstructured free play outdoors, arts and crafts, and toys like building blocks.

This post was a great encouragement! (Daja)

At first I thought this was going to be one of those posts where I’m made to feel guilty for giving my kids chores to do and for teaching them to act responsibly with their things, their interactions with others, and their conduct. Phew! I’m in 100% agreement with what you’re saying. Parents are pushing their children to be little adults, but at the expense of moral accountability and a proper perspective of priorities. My husband and I have always insisted our children live lives of integrity whether they’re “hanging out” , biking to the park or completing schoolwork. But their innocence is something we try to protect! (Deb. Burton)

Interesting information! These are all things I knew, but didn’t really think about often. As a middle school teacher, we see children babied by parents. Kids who can’t pick out their own clothes, study for a quiz on their own, or speak to adults clearly.
I agree about the adult-sized meals, ridiculous, and waxing, come on! My niece is quite content with home mani-pedis with Mom and Auntie! (Elizabeth)

Comment below! Enjoy your weekend!

“You’re Bothering Other People!” 10 Ways to Teach Children How to Act in Public

How Can Parents Control Their Children’s Inappropriate Public Behavior?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Libraries. Restaurants. Grocery Stores. The Post Office. Some parents cringe when they have to take their children out in public.  Of course, it doesn’t tend to compare to the amount of cringing that happens among people who are frequenting these destinations sans kids and hoping for quiet sanity.

My husband, Jason, contacted me from the library yesterday, where he loves to do work for Powerful Words, as it’s typically a lovely place to work.

“Today must be Allow your Child or Teen to be Loud, Obnoxious and Unbearable Day (Note: How about we call that A.C.T.2.L.O.U.D ?) at the library.” He went on to say; “One parent walked up to her 4 children and said ‘I can hear you all the way across the library!’ and then walked away, only to have them continue shouting and banging on the tables. And it wasn’t just the kids! A librarian actually needed to discipline a father for speaking extremely loudly to his children about where they were going to go next and what they were going to do for the rest of the day (not that it helped)! I’m coming home.”

I know, many of the parents and educators are nodding their heads out there—knowing specific people who are guilty of celebrating their own ACT2LOUD in public spaces. Perhaps it’s your neighbor. Perhaps it’s someone you know from school. Hey—perhaps it’s you. Others of you might be thinking “get real!” and folding your arms in frustration at those adults who shoot them dirty looks when certain (*ahem*) children get out of hand  —or worse yet have a nasty meltdown. Where do you fall?

Jason and I recall when we were young and our Moms would “lose their lips” over such behavior (you know that look?). My Mom would say; “Robyn! You are bothering other people” and to “stop it immediately if you want to stay here” (where it was safe and we could still steer clear of “trouble”). Yes, that typically stopped us in our tracks. To borrow a phrase from recent years, “you had me at…Robyn!”).

So let’s discuss some tactics to nip this problem in the bud.

  1. Keep Reasonable Expectations: Young children can only tolerate so many errands and so much “being quiet.” We can’t expect toddlers to act like teens. Therefore, be sure that you’re not requiring young children to wait around for hours while you jump from place to place without a peep. They need a break and they need to space to act like…children. That being said, that space shouldn’t be the library or somebody’s store. Be certain to put a stop at the park or the playground in your day if you have a lot of errands to do or secure childcare for at least an hour or two where your children can play.
  2. Expect the best: Don’t tell them that you don’t trust that they’ll be able to be respectful out in public! Children can be well behaved and you should let them know that you know they can do it! As you know, we believe in teaching Powerful Words and helping children be their best. If you are encouraging your children to follow what your instructors and teachers are saying about respect, responsibility, self control, and other Powerful Words, your children will rise to the occasion. Give them the opportunity to show you what they can do.
  3. Practice at Home: I’ve gone over this is my presentations with parent groups—if you don’t practice what you want to see at home, they won’t show it to you in public. For example, when pressed, parents will tell me that they don’t ask their children to sit at the dinner table and eat dinner. Yet, they get angry when their children run around and yell at a restaurant (which is both dangerous and annoying). Whether you want your children to be respectful and responsible at a store, library, restaurant or friend’s home, you must have them practice what you want to see from them at home first.
  4. Practice when you don’t NEED to be there: Parents often go to these destinations only when they NEED to be there. However, that’s no place to teach positive behavior. Think about it—you wouldn’t expect your child to take a math test before learning how to do the math, right? Go to the library on an off day so that you can give your child full attention and show them what to expect. Perhaps s/he will only be ready to behave for 60 seconds at first—maybe s/he’ll be ready for 5 minutes the next time—or 15—or 30—but you need to start somewhere and it’s not always at the top!
  5. Start young: When children learn what is expected of them when they are young, it’s much easier for them to stay on the respectful path. When we make excuses for children because they are still in preschool, kindergarten, first grade, 4th grade, etc, never expecting them to rise to the occasion, it’s much easier for them to keep relying on those excuses rather than work on getting better. I hate to say it but this is a form of helicopter parenting . Nobody should expect perfection from children but starting young, bit by bit, can help them to strengthen their character and become their best.
  6. Discuss it before you go inside: Before you leave the house, while you’re in the car, and when you get to your destination are all times that you can talk about what kind of behavior is needed once you enter a public domain. Don’t simply preach—ask questions. How should we act when we go into the library? Why do you think that’s so important? What happens when we’re too loud? What kind of voice should we use? When you have these types of conversations, even the youngest children will know what you and others expect from them when they’re in public.
  7. Be prepared to Leave: If you’re children start yelling and acting up, you must be prepared to leave the premises. If you’re following this list of tips, you’ve already explained the expectations—so if they don’t follow through, there must be consequences. You want them to be on your terms—rather than being asked to leave, don’t you? Otherwise, rules are meaningless, aren’t they? It may be inconvenient, but it’s necessary. If you simply think your child needs a time out, you don’t have to leave completely. Instead, you can say, “You are being too loud and you need a break. Let’s go outside for a few minutes until you’re ready to come back in and follow the rules.” At that point, you can gage whether they need to run around a little or if they simply needed to know you were serious when you said that public rules need to be respected.
  8. Correct, Inspect, and Enforce: As we say in Powerful Words, “you must inspect what you expect” because children tend to “respect what you inspect.” What do I mean by that? If you ask someone to behave a certain way and then walk away, never inspecting if they are actually following the rules (as the parent did in the library), then children often won’t follow through. So, if you give a rule, peek in and make sure it’s being followed. If it’s not, correct it, and try again. If that doesn’t work—go back to rule number 7 (leave) and rules numbers 3 and 4 (Practice, Practice!)
  9. Praise the positive: If your children do a good job, even if it’s not for as long as you would have liked, be sure to tell them you noticed! Children like to be noticed when they’re doing something right. Let them know that you’re proud of them and that they acted respectfully and responsibly. Of course, that means that they will be given more privileges like going to other “grown up” public places in the future like a nice restaurant, a show, or *gasp* an airplane where they can put their positive behavior into overdrive.
  10. Be a positive role model: Always remember that your children are watching you to see how to act. Actions always speak louder than words. If you tell them they must keep their voices down in the library but then yell across the building to them, you are being a poor example! If you tell them that it’s rude to talk in the movie theater, don’t do it yourself! And if you think it’s uncouth to air dirty laundry and fight in public, refrain from engaging in this type of exchange yourself! Children aren’t the only ones that need to act respectfully and responsibly when out in public—we all do—and what we do translates seamlessly when little eyes are watching and little ears are listening to everything you do and say!

In the end, it’s our responsibility to teach our children how to behave out in public. Be consistent and stick to what you say.

Please provide your stories, comments, and tips for all of us below!

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Is Fear Of Fat Stealing Halloween? 6 Ways to Take Control

Candy or Bust?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Ahhhhh, Halloween! Candy! Chocolate! Raisins?

My best friend, Randi, and I used to love dressing up for Halloween and sampling the goods from all the neighbors. Mrs. Garvel always had the best and biggest candy bars. Huge Nestle Crunch Bars. Colossal Butterfingers. Titanic Swirly Lollipops. Yum Yum. Of course, we always had the one “weird” neighbor who gave out raisins. Yeah- who wants raisins on Halloween?

The word is out. It turns out that many people are trying to find alternatives for Halloween Candy.

Given the rise in childhood “obesity” and “overweight” people are scrambling to make deals with their children over the amount of candy they can eat and what toys might be acceptable substitutes for the old sugary pastimes on this all-access holiday.

It wasn’t the gruesome costumes or gory masks turning up at Lisa Bruno’s front door that spooked her on Halloween. It was the pudge lurking beneath the costumes. “The kids were just so huge,” Bruno says.

The weight controversy aside, we all know it’s not really healthy for kids to sit in their room with a plastic pumpkin full of sweets—or worse yet, an overflowing pillow case like Randi and I used to use for maximum storage capabilities. It’s not great for the teeth, the belly, the skin, or the brain!

Here are some of the suggestions for dealing with the sugar overload:

(1) Don’t say “No” to all candy: When candy is the forbidden fruit, they’ll try to pluck it from any source they can find. Unless your children have extreme dietary restrictions due to health, and absolute “no” can backfire.

(2) Provide limits: Allow your children a certain amount of the treasured stash each day or allow them to pick 10 pieces of candy and give the rest away to charity, the local police, or another location. This is a great time to talk to your children about portion sizes.

(3) Use the “SwitchWitch:” The fantastical creature is also known as “The Sugar Fairy.” Ask your children to switch whatever amount of candy they want for a toy. A little candy leads to a little toy. A lot of their candy leads to a big toy. In the middle of the night, “The Switch Witch” or “The Sugar Fairy” comes, takes the candy they’ve laid out, and replaces it with a toy commensurate with the amount of candy donated. Some children will be more apt to do this than others but it’s definitely worth a good try.

(4) Buy back the candy: You can do this with actual money, books, or even time doing something special with Mom or Dad. For example, a piece of candy can be worth 5 cents, 20 pieces of candy could be worth one book, or 50 pieces of candy could be worth a special outing to dinner and the ice cream shop with Dad. Ice cream might seem counter productive—but what would you rather your child have; 50 pieces of candy or 1 ice-cream sundae?

(5) Provide yummy or cool alternatives: Those of you who really don’t want to give candy on Halloween need to be really creative here. No kid really wants cheese sticks, raisins, and juice boxes for Halloween. They get that stuff everyday! Come on. I mean, who are these people giving out dental floss and tooth brushes when the children ring their bells? However, for young children, magic wands, temporary tattoos, stuffed animals, match book cars, balloons, and cool stickers can work. Even gift certificates for a slice of pizza, a sundae, or a doughnut could be a good alternative since parents can allow the children to use once Halloween is just a memory. Some other alternatives are here, here, and here.

(6) Don’t make fat such a big fat deal: One night of eating candy does not a fat boy make. It takes much more than that to gain weight!  We don’t want to make children worry about body image simply because they’re eating candy on Halloween. We all like to indulge every once in a while and Halloween is fun and yummy! It’s not healthy or good for one’s belly to stuff themselves with too many candy bars but teaching children that they can eat a treat and enjoy it once in a while is important AND healthy.

“It’s important that we as parents help them find the balance between that very traditional fun activity and a healthy lifestyle. The government’s food pyramid allows about 10 percent of the day’s calories for most kids to come from extras, which includes candy. That’s going to allow every child to have some candy on a daily basis, and it really is OK.” (Connie Diekman, past president of the American Dietetic Association)

Remember what it was like participating in Halloween when you were little. Teach your children well but don’t suck the fun out of Halloween. And please, keep your raisins and dental floss to yourself.

You have any good ideas about candy and Halloween? Do you agree about providing alternatives or do you think kids should be able to live and let live during the weeks around Halloween? Please share your suggestions as well as your opinions. We can all learn something from each other!