Too Shy? One Child’s Journey from Wallflower to Winner

Jessie when she was a shy child

Shy Children Breaking Out of Their Shells

Dr. Robyn Silverman

I’ve received an interesting question from a concerned father after I posted an article about 10 tips for working or parenting shy children. “Have you ever really seen a shy child who came out of her shell?” Yes I have.  It’s a true story that I tell when I present on working with all different kinds of students at national conferences. And today, I’d love to share it with you.

I know parents have been a little alarmed about what might happen to their shyer children as they grow up.  DO they grow “out of it?” This concern has grown since the news came out this July about babies who were born too prematurely are more likely to grow up to be timid and less likely to get married and have children.

Eight year old Jessie was the quintessential wallflower. Short with straight brown hair, she always stood in the back line, last person on the right. If she didn’t have a wall to stand behind, her body language seemed to create one.

Her teacher, Guro Jason, made sure to start noticing her. Slowly at first, he made eye contact. He provided an encouraging word. He nodded at her from across the room.

Overtime, Jesse showed that her focus was sharp and her skills were clean. Her instructor began to spotlight her during class. “Great execution, Jessie. Great finesse!” He turned the class’s attention towards her as an example, even where she stood, in the back line near the wall. She would tell us later, no teacher ever really noticed her before.

Jessie’s hard work earned her a spot in the Black Belt Club. Her new uniform seemed to make her stand taller than she did before.

One week, Guro Jason asked to talk to Jessie after class. “I’ve been impressed with your consistent good work in class. If I called on you, would you be open to being my demo partner for one of the skills we’re learning in class? Jessie looked nervous, but, as she would months later, “he made me believe in me.” So Jessie quietly said “yes, sir.

Jessie doing a demonstration of some stretching

Before class, Jason pre-framed Jessie. At first, he asked her to show an easy stretch that he knew she felt comfortable executing. But later, he would ask her to show some of her stick work, which, while new, she seemed to catch onto quickly.

After a few weeks of having Jessie demonstrate the same drills over and over, Guro Jason had a special request. “Would you be open to leading the entire intermediate level (across classes) in this stick drill during graduation? Graduation was performed in front of hundreds of people. She looked petrified. Still, she said a little more loudly that before, “yes sir.

Jessie practicing for graduation

Jessie practiced everyday.  She was focused.  She was ready.

At graduation, Jessie stood in front of 125 other students. Set” Guro Jason yelled. And something in this little girl clicked. She reached within herself and called out, loudly enough to fill the middle school gym, “Yes, Sir!” Her counts were loud, her eyes, focused, and her movements, flawless. People clapped and cheered. Her parents cried. OK, I cried.

After graduation, people remarked how martial arts transformed Jessie into a different kid. But I had to correct them. By allowing her to take on a leadership position that fit her skill set, in her own time, we were allowing her to transform herself from wallflower to winner.

Thanks for visiting! Please give us your tips for working and parenting children who seem shy, nervous, or timid.  And if you have a child who may seem a bit shy, please contact me and I would be happy to give you a list of Powerful Words member schools by you.  It’s a great opportunity for children to realize their own potential in their own time.

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Parents! 6 Questions to ask about Barack Obama’s Address

Questions to ask yourself and talk to your children about after watching

Barack Obama’s Inaugural address

Dr. Robyn Silverman

kennedy

When I was a little girl, a newscaster approached me and my Grandmother (Nanny) when we were outside of the Shoprite in West Orange, NJ.  As it was the anniversary of John F. Kennedy‘s assassination, he wanted to ask Nanny 2 questions; “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” and “What do you think the impact was of this event?”

This memory comes to mind on this great day as Barack Obama becomes the 44th president of the United States.  With such historical significance, I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re asked to recall where we were when President Obama was elected and what we think the impact of the event was on our country and on our families.

It’s in that spirit that I ask you, our Powerful Parents, to reflect with the Powerful Family Community on some questions and thoughts as you watch the swearing in ceremony and President Obama’s inaugural address:

(1) First, jot down where you are watching the event.  Are you there in Washington DC? Watching at home? Watching with friends and family?  Who’s there and what did you plan for this day?

(2) How did you feel when you heard the swearing in ceremony?  Were you touched and moved?  What thoughts ran through your mind about the state of our country or how your children and family will be impacted by this man and the decisions he will make with his team?

(3) What struck you about Obama’s address? Any quotes or messages that stick out in your mind? Anything you wished he would have said but didn’t?  Anything he said that surprised you?

(4) How do you think this election will impact the US and world in 4 years? 8 years? 50 years?

(5) What do you want your kids/grandkids to know about the event after its over and for the years to come?

(6) What is the most powerful thing about this man and this presidency? What powerful words come to mind when you think of Barack Obama?

I will be watching along with all of you.  I’m eager to hear your thoughts.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

How do you celebrate achieving a goal?

toasting to the achievement of a goal

Goal Setting and Celebration: Inspiration from First Grade Phonics

Dr. Robyn Silverman

When I was on 1st grade, we used to do phonics.  I remember the June day like it was yesterday.  It was warm in the school and we were all suffering from an acute case of Spring Fever.  It was on that day that we completed our last day of Phonics.  Mrs. Rabin announced, “You’re all done! Congratulations students! You can throw away the cover!” We all got up and my friend, Leanna, started a frenzy of little kids skipping around the room towards the trash can singing “no more phonics! no more phonics!” It was fun!  We felt great about ourselves! We got to the end!  I never forgot it.

What happens when YOUR goal or benchmark is reached? What about when your child reaches his or her goal?

Let’s say that you lost the 25 pounds you wanted to lose. You completed the course you needed to take to finish your degree. You’re child moved to a higher level. S/he finally got the A on in her hardest teacher’s class. Whatever it is, what’s the celebration plan? We’ve overcome so much, it’s hard to change…you did it…so it’s time to celebrate, isn’t it?

Without celebrating a goal, the whole process of goal-setting and goal-getting feels dull and meaningless! As the Powerful Word of the Month is Goal-setting, this is a great time to teach our children to celebrate before moving on to the next goal.

Celebrating can come in all forms—it can be as serious as being given an award or as silly as doing a funny “celebration dance” with a friend or parent. It can be as simple as a making a chocolate-milk toast to the success that was made and as intricate as baking brownies, wrapping them in a special tin, and sharing them with a friend, teacher, or sibling who also had some kind of success.  Celebrating can be going to the movies, giving your child a night off, going to dinner, or even buying her a congratulations balloon and hanging it on the back of her desk chair in her room. You can turn up the radio up really loud and invite him to jump on the bed with you (if that’s allowed for this special occasion). Whatever you do, you do need to commemorate the process if your child is going to learn that making and achieving goals is fun and something extraordinary.

One last hint– be sure that you do it too.  When children see you celebrating your goals, they’ll be more compelled to set and celebrate their own.

So, how do you and your children celebrate the success of your goals? Are you a bed jumper? Brownie baker? Movie goer? If this step has been missing in your goal-setting routine, what would you like to do? Give yourself something to look forward to…

Comment below so others can hear your ideas.  We can all get inspired from one another.

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Dr. Robyn Silverman Announces…We’re Adopting a Baby!

OUr baby- 18 weeks in utero

Our baby- 18 weeks in utero-- Looking very content!

We’re adopting a baby!
Dr. Robyn Silverman

We’re excited to announce to our Powerful Parent community that we’re adopting a baby, due March 1st!  We’ve been matched with a wonderful couple since early July.  We couldn’t be more excited!

The picture above is from our ultrasound appointment that we went to in early October with our birth-parents.  We found out at that time, we would be having a daughter!

We’ll be going out for the birth in about 5-6 weeks and are honored to be included in the delivery room.

FAQ  about Dr. Robyn’s adoption:

(1) What country are you adopting from? United States

(2) Do you know what you’re having? It’s a girl!

(3) What kind of adoption is it? Open adoption. We speak/text with the birth parents often and have become quite close.  We adore them.  Our birth mom tell us what’s going on with the pregnancy, plays the CD we made for the baby each day, and sends us pictures as she grows.  She even sent us a picture of the baby kicking at her belly! We are thrilled that we’ll continue to have contact with them after the birth to update them on how the baby is doing, send them pictures, and visit, when possible! After doing a lot of reading on open adoption, we decided that it was the best option for us because we want our child to have the opportunity to ask questions, know who her birth parents are, and get the full story with no secrets. When we met our birth parents face to face, we were even more certain of our decision.

(4) Was the adoption process grueling? No, we’ve had a great experience.  Once we got approved for our home study, which happened very quickly, we were matched with our wonderful birth parents 15 days later.  It’s been a pleasure getting to know them and being a part of the pregnancy since our baby was only 5 weeks in utero. What an amazing blessing!

(5) Aren’t you nervous that…At first, of course we were nervous.  It was all so new! But as we’ve had the opportunity to talk, spend time, and get to know our birth-parents, we are certain of our decision just as our birth mom is certain of hers.  I think of myself as a great judge of character, after all, it’s what I do!  We really like and respect our birth parents and they’ve been forthright in expressing their feelings towards us and the adoption as well.  Our face to face visit with them in October made all 4 us know we were destined to meet. Since then, our mutual positive feelings for each other have been reaffirmed time and time again.

Feel free to ask questions.  We are so happy about our adoption and are grateful for all the love and support that our friends and family have given us during this incredibly special time.  We wanted to let you in on the good news as well.

Warm regards,

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dr. Robyn

Some other blogs that cover adoption/children who were adopted:

Mother Issues

Mamahood and more

Hearts Wide Open

Ashley’s law: Following up on Ashley McIntosh’s deadly car crash

Ashley McIntosh who died in a tragic car crash with police officer Perry

Virginia Residents!

A Plea From Ashley’s Mother: Bringing Ashley’s Law to the Table

Dr. Robyn Silverman

As you know we’ve been following the tragic story of Ashley McIntosh, my niece’s teacher, who died in a horrible collision with a police officer, Amanda Perry, on an icy day last February. Witnesses had clearly seen the police car speeding through the red light without a siren, yet with lights, towards the intersection where Ashley was thrown from the car and killed. Many of you have responded in comments about this story over the last year.

There have been many questions around the negligence of the police officer as she didn’t have a siren on—something that hasn’t been required by the police. In fact, the law states that police officers are exempt from the red light/green light law if their “speed is sufficiently reduced.” While Officer Perry had been charged with reckless driving  in May, she was not found guilty in September. Now, it’s time to look at the bigger picture.  We need to protect others.

While there is no way to bring back Ashley, Ashley’s mother, Cindy McIntosh Colasanto, is trying to bring Ashley’s Law to the lawmakers.  This law would require police officers to use their lights and sirens (and slow to a safe speed) when driving through red lights .Anyone in Virginia, please pay attention:

Dear Virginia Resident,

I want to thank you for your signature on the petition urging state legislators to introduce “Ashley’s Law,” a law that would require police officers to slow their cars and turn on their sirens when driving through red lights.    My daughter, Ashley, was killed when a Fairfax County police officer failed to take those simple, life-saving measures.

State Senator Toddy Puller has now introduced a bill requiring officers to follow those guidelines.

Now I want to ask you one more favor that could make the difference in whether this bill become law.

Would you please write/email/call your local senator and representative urging him or her to vote for this bill?

I have included a sample letter that you can cut and paste into an email or letter.

Thank you for your support.   Your actions could truly save a life.

With gratitude,

Cindy McIntosh Colasanto, Ashley’s mother

Dear Assemblyman/Senator ________________:

I am writing to urge you to vote for SB 847 which will require Virginia police officers to slow to a safe speed and use their sirens when driving through red lights.
This is a common-sense requirement which protects innocent citizens as well as police by reducing the risk of potentially deadly collisions.

Thank you,

If you are a Virginia resident, please lend your support to the McIntosh family.

Best regards,

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Related:

Original article on Ashley McIntosh

*May 2nd 2008 update here.

*September 2008 update here

Ashley’s law website here

Ask Dr. Robyn: How do I teach respect in my home?

Ask Dr. Robyn Silverman: Creating a Respectful Environment in My Home (Video)

Every parent has trouble with disrespect in the home from time to time.  Children are going to test boundaries, push your buttons, and learn about risk and consequences. It’s part of growing up! Of course, parents need to teach children respect, expect respect, and model respect if they’re going to get it! Dr. Robyn Silverman answers a reader’s question about how to create a respectful atmosphere in the home and provides 10 tips on the ABCs of respect.

Everyone has New Years Resolutions. The one thing I want to concentrate on this year is making sure my home is a place of respect. With 3 growing boys, it can get kind of rowdy in here. I don’t mind the noise but I do mind disrespect in the house. Even my husband and I have gotten caught up in it. It’s got to change. How can I set the tone for respect in my home for 2009?         –Lisa B, Tulsa, OK

Related articles:

Mommy, I hate you!

You’re Bothering Other People!

Dr. Robyn Introduces the Powerful Word: Respect

10 Tips on Teaching Respect

Send Dr. Robyn a question!

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Stuck, Stagnant and Stymied: Defining your Who, What, Where, When, and Why for 2009

calendar for goal setting

Stuck, Stagnant and Stymied:

Redefining your Who, What, Where, When, and Why for 2009

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Where did the time go? Didn’t we have definite plans for 2008? Goals? We were going to get to it. But alas, we didn’t. And now it’s January…2009.

My gosh, we waste a lot of time. Procrastination comes in all forms. Email. We searches. Blackberries. Yes, and we know who you are.

Alright; I’ll confess. I’ve just entered the world of FaceBook. Go ahead, “friend” me! It’s a really cool tool that’s reconnected me with friends and colleagues of the past and present. This is both positive and negative. More connections can lead to heightened opportunity, greater feelings of unity, and growth. More connections can also lead to more senseless yapping on the internet, addictive checking of messages, re-exposed high school wounds we would have liked to have left untouched, and yes, lots and lots of wasted time. I sometimes find myself searching around for blasts from the past without any good reason for doing so. And no, curiosity isn’t really that good of an excuse.

We’re quick to blame other people and our “situations” for our lack of concentration and progress. But at the beginning of the New Year, perhaps it’s time to reclaim our control and ask ourselves what’s really happening and how WE can take action to fix it. Let’s make 2009 the year we get “it” done! After all, aren’t we all sick of mediocrity?

(1) Who? It’s time to get honest. Who can you be around and still get the work done that needs to get done? Spouse? Friends? Pets? Who hurts your progress? Who distracts you? Who makes you feel incapable, incompetent, or anxious?

(2) What? Break it down: What do I really have to do? What are the bite-sized pieces that I can put on my to-do list? What’s the plan for today, this week, this month—and what’s my overarching timeline? What can keep me on track?

(3) Where? We often forget to think about our location and how it serves (or doesn’t serve) us and our specific purpose. Where do I flourish, feel productive and make progress? When I look at where I work, what should the space look like for maximum productivity? Where do I lose my focus? Where am I more apt to succumb to distractions? Get honest with yourself. Perhaps a location-change or a space-overhaul is just what you need.

(4) When? Many of you, just like my coaching clients, are not just parents, teachers or business owners. We wear a lot of hats. Still, we do need to take control as best as we can. Ask yourself; When it my best time of day for innovation, business maintenance, or strategic planning? When is my worst time? When do I get tired? When we determine our optimal “when,” our plans become real and certain.

(5) Why? The “why” of our business determines motivation, inspiration, and enthusiasm for every project. Ask yourself; Why am I doing this? Why do I care? Without a “why,” your life will feel empty, dull, and pointless. Whether you do what you do for the good of yourself, the good of your family, or the good of mankind, make sure the reason is compelling so that it consistently inspires you to move forward every day.

First, breathe.  Stand back and really think. You may need a great success coach to work through it all with you. These simple yet powerful overarching questions will inspire you to determine the answers that are vital to your success. Get honest with yourself, answer the questions, and allow your responses to shape the circumstances of your success.

COACHING CLASS! As a success coach, I’m setting up another parenting coaching group for motivated adults who want to make 2009 their year for goal success. Interested? SPACE IS EXTREMELY LIMITED. This group is starting very soon- please let us know that you plan on participating. Fill out the form on my website and I’ll send you more information! PowerDay retreats also available.

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