10 Tips for Working with Children with Poor Self Confidence

shy child

10 Tips for Working with Shy Children, Nervous Children, or Children who Lack Self Confidence

Dr. Robyn Silverman

It can be frustrating to work, teach, or parent children who lack confidence who seem shy or nervous.  Especially when you are an outgoing, confident person, shy and nervous children can seem like a mystery. That acknowledgment aside, you need to be sensitive and tolerant of children who are shy or nervous, or who lack confidence.

When working with shy or nervous children, remember to…

(1) Tell them never to fear asking questions: Questions lead to knowledge and knowledge leads to confidence.Don’t toss off questions as trivial, silly, rude or annoying.  When children question, they learn.

(2) Share Your stories about trials to triumph: When they hear your struggles and how you overcame them, they will learn that they can overcome their struggles as well. You can be a role model in action as well as in discussion.

(3) Highlight that persistence leads to success: We’ve heard it before. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall but rather, how many times you get up. People value persistence! Let them know that perseverance is more important that getting it right the first few times.

(4) Encourage them in the areas in which they excel: Many teachers and parents make the mistake of paying attention only when a child is struggling. Instead, focus on the child when he’s doing something right and when he can be a positive example to others. Nothing breeds confidence like feeling successful.

(5) Let them know it’s safe to make mistakes: You do it, they do it, their heroes do it, and their teachers do it too! Everyone makes mistakes. Many children are afraid to try because they’re afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes often lead to judgment. Make sure that these children know that they will never be judged negatively when they do their best and try their hardest—even if it doesn’t lead to success right away. Encourage them to “try, try again!”

(6) Praise appropriately: If they failed, don’t tell them they did well. You belittle them by doing so. They know what empty praise is by now. Help them to figure out what they can do to fix the problem and praise them for their courage and perseverance. Relay that you believe in them and with persistence, they will be successful.

(7) Help them to balance their goals with realistic expectations: Goals may take a while to achieve. We can’t all be an elite gymnast, swimmer or martial artist the moment we step into training. Goals are great but take time. We need to help these children understand that they move forward in benchmarks not leaps and bounds. By assisting them in mapping out their benchmarks, they will see that they are making progress.

(8) Don’t compare them with your confident children: Each child is an individual. By saying things like, “why aren’t you out there with the other children?” or “Katelyn is showing courage by doing X, why can’t you do the same thing?” you are only making the child feel bad and not honoring her own individual needs.

(9) Celebrate successes before moving on: Often, when a goal is achieved, we’re already onto the next goal before celebrating the success of the current one. It’s important for children to celebrate their success each time it happens. Let him or her take credit for those successes and talk about the qualities in your child that lead to that success. “You were courageous and persistent—you did it! Congratulations for sticking it out!”

(10) Accept your child unconditionally: Some children are shy or nervous while others are outgoing. Your child needs to know that whatever way they are, you accept them and you’re not trying to change them.

While these tips are especially important for shy children or children who lack confidence, they work for all children!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

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10 Things You Must Know When Traveling with Children

Children and traveling

Traveling with Kids? Be Prepared!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

NOTE: Would you please vote for Dr. Robyn’s Blog for best Parenting Blog?  It only takes a moment! Thank you!!!

Getting ready to go to Grandma’s for the holidays?  Heading out for a long car ride? Plane ride? Don’t stress. Just be prepared.

It’s amazing that our parents were able to take us on trips without a zillion electronic gadgets.  No Ipods, DVD players, hand held games, or cell phones. Well, it’s a new world.  We need to make sure that everyone is occupied if it’s going to be a pleasant trip.

Whether you’re taking a GrandVacation with the grandparents or simply going on a long car ride to visit Aunt Patti in Mobile, be prepared with:

(1) Location games to play: I-spy, Padiddle (pointing out a car with one headlight), counting games, the alphabet game (saying destinations by going through the alphabet, A my name is Alice…), looking for specific letters on license plates, locating one car from every states.  The number of games is endless.  Brainstorm these games in advance so you’re not trying to remember them while on the road.

(2) Communication games to play: The car is one of the best places to talk to your children and teens.  The side by side nature of travel makes talking less uncomfortable.  You can simply tell stories and ask questions but you can also play games that inspire communication like  Finish the sentence (If I had a million dollars I would…) and Everyone answers (Name one thing that made you laugh today, name one thing you’re worried about).

(3) Sleepy, bored campers must be comfortable: Have someone who gets sick in the car? Tired on planes? Make sure they have a comfy blanket, pillow, and their favorite stuffed toy, if they need it.  Go over exactly what needs to be packed and make sure the children check everything off before they leave. This is a great time for children to learn how to pack their own suitcase (even if you look everything over) for the trip. We want them to have what they need! Fussy, crabby, sleep-deprived teens or children are not fun to be around!  Even if it’s something extra for them to carry (get portable sizes), be sure they have what they need to sleep it off. Other things to pack in your carry on bag here.

(4) Songs to Sing: Many children love to sing in the car. You might think that you can go with the old standbys like 99 bottles but after you get about 4 measures in you’ll see that it wasn’t the best choice.  Be prepared with short songs that your children like to sing like “wheels on the bus,” “It’s a hard knock life,” “The Circle Game,” or “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead.”  You can even print out the words so that one of the adults can lead the singing and actually know the words that are supposed to be sung.

(5) Mechanical back-up: If you’re going to be in the car, trailer, or plane for over8-10 hours, you may want to have a portable DVD player available as a reward for children who’ve been sitting still all day.  Get a movie that all your children can enjoy.  You can give them earphones so that they can listen while you get some moments of peace and quiet.  You can also bring along Ipods, hand held games, and leap frog systems.  Make sure that you don’t bring loud games.  They’ll drive you crazy.

(6) Snacks! Troops get hungry: Make sure you have healthy snacks like carrot sticks, celery sticks, orange segments, and raisins ready to go.  You can also bring along other snacks like crackers, cookies, and fruit roll-ups.  Also ensure that you have juice boxes and water. No trip is fun when people are hungry or thirsty.

(7) Wipes! People get messy: Children who eat in the car or on the plane get messy.  Bring along wipes. tissues, and a sense of humor.

(8) Maps to know where you’re heading: Make sure your children know where you’re going and what you’ll be doing so that they get excited and mentally prepared. You also need maps to ensure that you know where you’re going, the locations of favorite kid friendly restaurants, sites you might want to see, and places where you can meet friends who you haven’t seen in a long time.  Stops give the children and teens time to stretch their legs and break up the day if you’re driving int he car.  If you’re flying, maps are fun ways to learn about the places where you’re going as well as the places you’re flying over!

(9) Labels so things don’t get lost: Make sure that you label your suitcases well.  Everyone has a black suitcase, so if you have the option, get another color.  Label special toys and blankets so that if they get lost there is a chance they’ll come back to you.

(10) Stranger danger and ground rules: We don’t want our children and teens to be frightened when we go away but we do want them to be smart.  Go over what you expect and talk to them about staying safe while in an airport, rest stop, or other place away from home.  Call a family meeting and talk about the different rules we need to follow, buddy systems you need to have, and things to expect.  Getting it all out in the open before you leave with ease the way for everyone.

In the end, it’s just important to have a good time– so leave the stress at home and enjoy! It’s time to make memories!

Happy Holidays everyone!

NOTE: Would you please vote for Dr. Robyn’s Blog for best Parenting Blog?  It only takes a moment! Thank you!!!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs


Lessons from Aruba: Life Looks Better from a Hammock

Dr. Robyn with iguana in aruba

…From Sandles to Snow Boots in One Day

Dr. Robyn Silverman

It’s always nice to go on vacation and get away from it all…especially when “getting away” means getting away from the snow and bitter cold of the Northeast (at least for me, anyway).

On Friday, I returned from Aruba.  We were in a very turbulent airplane while making it back to Boston in the heavy snow.  I had my feet firmly planted on the Aruba sand in the morning and shoved in snow boots by nightfall.  Oh well.  The vacation (something I take rarely), helped me to remember a few things.  Perhaps vacations do the same for you:

What I learned in Aruba:

(1) It’s important to get in touch with nature: It’s embarrassing.  How much time do we spend on a computer?  Phone? Ipod?  Believe me, I’m guilty of it as well.  In Aruba, I was watching Iguanas crawl on my husband’s shoe.  This would probably be disturbing at any other time in any other place.  But here, in Aruba, it was fabulolus! I was captivated by pelicans in trees.  They reminded me that I was in a special place. And, as you can imagine, I was shocked to stand right next to the flamingos on the beach.  Ahhh.  This is the way it’s supposed to be.  We are sharing this earth with other creatures! Who knew? I don’t know about you, but I sometimes need to be reminded. My phone didn’t work in Aruba– and that was a very good thing!

Dr. Robyn with her husband, Jason in Aruba on flamingo beachThere's an Iguana in my shoe!aruba_pelican

(2) Nothing soothes like a great sunset: Sometimes I’m so busy looking at what’s right infront of me that I forget to look at the amazing sites Mother Nature provides.  Wow.  Sunsets make me breathe deeper and remember why nature inspires artists to paint. You’ll see what I mean below:

Gorgeous Sunset in Aruba with sailboat December 2008Dr. Robyn takes picture of Aruba Sunset with big boat

(3) Beauty can be captured from all perspectives. I love doing yoga.  However, doing yoga on the beach was an amazing treat.  Being the kind of person I a (type A), people might say I have some trouble slowing down.  Yes, I admit it’s true.  I realized in Aruba, while doing yoga on the beach, that when we surround ourselves with beauty, it’s almost impossible NOT to slow down.  Looking up from my morning stretch, I was captivated…and I’ve never breathed so deep. This is what I saw:

View from yoga in Aruba

Now if I could just paint THAT on my gym ceiling…

(4) Explore different ways to exercise: Yoga on the beach is one way.  Dancing is another.  While having breakfast on our first full day, we saw about 50 people taking a Latin dance class.  It was amazing!  People of all shapes, sizes, and ages, were grooving to the music.  One little boy was keeping up with the rest of them…which got me thinking about the trouble we’ve had getting our children to move their bodies and get up from the TV or computer.  Perhaps if we were more innovative about our exercise plans for them– not going to the gym– but doing the fun stuff like martial arts, gymnastics, dancing– we would be getting a lot further.

boy doing Latin dance class in Aruba

(5) Try new things: When was the last time you tried a new food?  It had been a while for me too.  But who could resist trying some of the local seafood in Aruba?  Caught in the morning and served that night, it doesn’t get fresher than this.  We tried local Grouper, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi and some other indigenous fish. Yum.  This is the farthest thing from fast food and TV dinners. It’s even better when you eat it right on the beach.

Dr. Robyn and Jason in Aruba at simply fish restaurant on the beachSeafood Risotto in Aruba

(6) Relax and Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff: My brother used to have a quote on his wall (I believe from the movie The  Natural) that said “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff.  It’s all small stuff.  If you can’t fight and you can’t flee, flow.” It was written in crayon– but that’s another story. While in Aruba, I checked my email only once everyday.  Since I had no phone access, this was my one way to connect if necessary.  It’s funny, one email I got was from a reader who was very upset that I had a “comma splice” in one of my recent posts.  She actually told me she was “dismayed.” I realized how uptight we can all get about the little things when we’re caught in everyday life.  I made a conscious decision not to fret over it.  Instead, we decided to make a toast to all the things that made us feel grateful. Perhaps this lesson has inspired me to remember to relax in 2009– even if I’m not in Aruba!  Or, at the very least, I need to remember to go on vacation more than once every 5 or so years!

aruba at Pinchos restaurant

(7) Life looks better from a Hammock: Expanding on point number 6– yes, life does look better from a hammock.  Should I put one up in my yard today? Probably not.  After all, it’s like, 5 degrees out today.  The wind chill feels like a layer of skin in being peeled off your face.  However, perhaps I need to keep this picture of me in a hammock– and the views from the hammock– nearby.  There’s something about being suspended gently off the ground while looking up at nature that makes you feel weightless physically and emotionally.  And of course, you have to have a book.  In this picture, I’m reading one of the most ridiculous books I’ve ever read– but hey, I was on vacation!

Dr. Robyn on a hammock in ArubaView from the hammock in Aruba

So, this holiday, as people are running themselves ragged, complaining about the economy, fretting about company, and pulling their hair out because of comma splices or the like, I’m going to will myself to incorporate my view from the hammock into my life.  Is it possible?  I’ll let you know.

Wish me luck. Happy Holidays everyone.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

PS Just a funny picture.  These Iguanas thought they’d have a little happy hour in a beach goer’s Pina Colada.

aruba happy hour for iguanas

Kids say the darndest things…

I’m currently in Aruba on vacation– and since I’m in such a great mood, I thought I’d sprinkle some sunshine your way!

Powerful Words Powerchat

PowerChat Funnies from Powerful Words Character Development Teachers…

Last week during the POWer Chat for our students, ages 3 and 4, I was helping them with a hint to remember the word of the month. I said “It’s not smallerance, it’s …” To which they all replied “BIGGERANCE!” It had all the parents cracking up. At the next class I was ready for them and changed the hint to “It’s not shorterance, it’s …” to receive the reply “BIGGERANCE!” again. We may have to consider petitioning Webster’s to change tolerance to biggerance.

–Mr. Lesmerisis, Rockport, ME

“Determination month lead to some cute and funny tidbits for us. One 4 year old boy was hopping around the deck before class chanting: ‘determination! I have a no quit, go for it attitude! It was so cute!

After the powerchat, one instructor asked “What’s the Powerful Word of the Month?  To which on little girl replied, “extermination!”

–Margee Charron, Baltic, CT

It was December and the Powerful Word was acceptance.  I was helping our 4-6 years olds see how many things we all had in common by asking them “what does your family do on the holidays?  All the parents listened as the children chimed in. Nicholas raised his hand and said “we open gifts!” Kayla raised her hand and said, “we eat yummy food!”  Finally, Emily, a little blond-haired girl with pigtails yelled out, “we make love!”

–Dr. Robyn Silverman, Weymouth, MA

When the 3 and 4 year olds were standing in line by the “rock wall,” one little boy just couldn’t wait his turn.  He kept running up to the rock wall and running back on line.  One little girl in his class put her hands on her hips and turned to the boy and said, “Tommy! You are not using your impulse control!” Those children definitely retain their Powerful Words!

–Sandi Stevens McGee, Tuscumbia, AL

Please share your child’s funnies– we can all use a good laugh!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

How can I explain racism to young children?

mother_daughter_race

Explaining Racism to Young Kids: Exploring The Powerful Word Tolerance

Hello Powerful Parents! Tolerance is the Powerful Word of the month. In honor of this important Powerful Word, we are exploring different parts of tolerance throughout the month. In this article, we’re talking about tolerance and racism and how one mother talks about this sensitive topic to her interested preschooler. Unfortunately, racism is still alive and kicking. We must educate our children about tolerance.

Explaining Racism to Young Children
Note: In this article*, a mother is talking to her preschooler about the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. How do you explain tolerance and racism to a child?  What do you say?

The Powerful Parenting Blog welcomes guest writer, Zoe Burkholder**

Yesterday I told my 4-year-old son, Dexter, that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed. Dexter was dismayed, and his anguish and despair at this news lasted well into the night. He could not understand how Dr. King, a man whose heroic achievements Dexter has been studying in preschool for the past two weeks, could have been killed by a “bad guy.”

Who was this bad guy, why did he shoot Dr. King, what happened to Dr. King, did the bad guy go to jail? The questions went on through the night, surpassing my ability to answer them even though I am a professional historian and teach college courses on the Civil Rights Movement. The problem was not so much that Dexter’s questions were inappropriate or the answers hard to find. Rather I found the larger context of Dr. King’s death to be so incomprehensible to a 4-year-old, I could barely formulate a coherent response. I found myself stumbling over concepts like racial segregation, skin color and social and political inequality.

How do you explain racism to a child?

Parents of young children recognize this quandary. It requires a bizarre balancing act between offering truthful answers to honest inquiries about human difference and social inequality, and not scaring the child. Parents must also be careful of instilling a concern for difference that might manifest itself in inappropriate ways. For example, when Dexter was 3 years old he went through a period of pointing out the exact skin color of people he met or saw in pictures. At one point, he told me I purchased the wrong pack of Pampers for his sister, because the baby on the package was “brown” and his baby sister is “white.”

“No silly,” I replied, “it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, everybody is the same on the inside.”

Over a period of months I reiterated this point in a thousand different ways, trying to find the answer that would satisfy his insatiable quest for understanding.

“Every person has their own unique skin color, and hair color, and eye color,” I suggested. “See, your skin is a little lighter than mine, and mine is a little darker than my sister’s. No two people look exactly alike, that’s what makes everyone special.”

But these answers belied a truth that Dexter, even as a 3-year-old, was starting to absorb from the world around him.

Last year, whenever I read a children’s book on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to Dexter, I would quietly edit out certain words. The book, written for very young children, explains that, as a boy, Martin could only drink from a water fountain marked “colored” and “white” students got to attend a better, newer school. I was scared to introduce these words to my 3-year-old son. These words seemed to box people into categories I didn’t want him to know, yet. But this year, I read the text just as it appeared in the book, taking the time to explain, in the past, some people in America did things that were not fair.

I told him that, in some towns, people who were African American were not always allowed to study, worship, eat or work alongside people who were “white.” Dr. King helped change these unfair things, make America more equal and make it a better place for us to live today.

I was just starting to feel cautiously optimistic about my explanation of racial segregation, when Dexter asked me if I ever saw Dr. King.

“No, he died before I was born,” I explained.

“How did he die?” asked Dexter.

I paused only a second, mostly because I wished the answer was different, I knew the truth would upset my sensitive son.

“A bad man shot him,” I said. “Martin died, and then the bad man was arrested and went to jail.”

Suddenly Dexter had a lot more questions.

That night, my son and I listened to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the Internet. Although I doubt Dexter understood very much of it, I think he enjoyed hearing Dr. King’s voice and looking at black and white photographs of the crowds on the Washington Mall. But even as we listened, Dexter had new questions. He caught the part where King explained, one hundred years after the Emancipation Proclamation, black Americans still are not free.

“What happened one hundred years ago?” Dexter wanted to know.

I looked at my son, and knew I was not yet ready to explain slavery. Thinking forward, my mind flashed through horrifying images of world wars, atomic weapons, the Holocaust; things for which my son and daughter will someday have to face and account.

“It’s time for bed,” I said instead.

“Let’s have some ice cream,” I added as an afterthought.

————————-

See article: 7 Ways to Raise a Prejudice Child

How do you think this mother did? What are your thoughts on explaining racism to a child?  How can you be an anti-racist parent? What has been your experience with this topic?  What are your concerns or questions?  Please discuss below!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

*This article was originally posted on the resource cite, Teaching Tolerance and is posted here with written permission.

**Dr. Robyn Silverman welcomes guest writer, Zoe Burkholder, Ph.D. candidate in the History of Education department of New York University and a Spencer Fellow for Research Related to Education. This article is based on her dissertation work entitled, “With Science as His Shield: Teaching Race and Culture in America, 1900-1954.”

What would children say to their parents in a day?

Well, you saw yesterday’s post featuring Anita Renfroe’s “Mom Song” and what she would say to her children in a 24 hour period (condensed into just under 3 minutes).

Today, we get the other half of the story.  Here’s Vanessa Van Petten’s “Kid Response,” also sung to the William Tell Overture.  Ready for this parents?  Here we go!

Lyrics (In case you want to sing along!)

Lyrics to the Kid’s Response to the Mom Song

I am up, I am up, I’m up and dressed

Can I wear this, am I cute, are the boys impressed

Where’s my clothes and my shoes and my backpack at

And, Yes I’m wearing that

No mom, no OJ, where’s the pop tarts at

Where’s my lunch, eww gross, do I look fat?

After school bring me a snack when I get back

And then its homework until I collapse

Watch some TV shows, to us teens it’s the most important thing of all

Get my TIVO for set up for gossip girls—the coolest show of all

Please remember not to come downstairs when my friends are over here

Just stay upstairs all the time so when we gossip you will not hear

TTYL, Not now, Im coming, can you drive me there

Close my door, Get out! Please don’t touch mess up my hair

I said thank you, I don’t want to, please don’t bother me

There’s my cell phone, it’s a text, Ill have to BRB

LOL, cu later,  take me to the mall

Wait one second I have to take this call.

That’s so chill, so cool, oh mom please chillax

ROTFL, oh please dad just relax

I hear breathing mom,  is that you on my call

While you’re here though can I have money for the mall

Hi mom, its me, Im over at sandy’s

and I’m wondering if I can spend the night? We’re watching movies And yes, Sandy’s mom is also here right now,

talk to her, oh maybe she’s in the shower so im not sure how.

Oh man what If my parents catch me

there are some things that we do that all parents cant see

I forgot my homework, what I’m grounded, oh you are so unfair

Were you never young, you’re the worst, and you are always late to day care

Do I have to, I don’t want to, can I have some money

Not a boyfriend, we’re just friends, just an FWB

You don’t get me, your so lame, can you drop me off here

I don’t want my friends to see you near

My day was fine, and my test was just ok

ill never be like you, my kids will be great

don’t read my diary, just give me my privacy

Can I go to the dance, I wont get an STD

Oh and about parents who patrol

about Parental controls

they don’t really work

We know when you lurk

And often cover up

With fake homework

Or IM our friends red parents alert

So I want to tell you that when we say that we hate you

We know

you really want to keep us safe

But can I just make our case

Sometimes we just want a little freedom from your rules

And when you nag us, and tell us to

Take out the trash and clean dog poo

Our only course of action is to roll our eyes at you

Mom!

Brush my teeth, wash my face, fight with mom

Text my friends, ask for money, put my retainer on

I guess its true, I love you

And tomorrow we will do this all again because a mom’s nags never end

Can I have a later curfew

I need it, just trust me, everyone else does it too

Hey mom hey mom hey mom hey mom, hey mom

I love you, I do, Even though I never tell you!

Would you add anything?  Please comment below!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Humor: What would you say to your child in a 24 hour period?

What do you say to your child in a 24 hour period?  How would like to condense that down to 2 minutes and 55 seconds?  Strap on your seat belts… here we go!!!

The Mom Song

What would you add to Anita Renfroe’s remake of the WilliamTell Overture?

Stay tuned tomorrow for Vanessa Van Petten’s teen response to this youtube. Yes, you’ll laugh!!!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs