Dr. Robyn Silverman Introduces The New Powerful Word: Teamwork!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

We want children to learn how to work as a team.  However, so many people feel that you can actually get more done alone rather than with the help of others.  While that can sometimes be true when working with people who are goofing off or being counterproductive, working as a team with productive, willing people can actually help children get more done!Just check out what these powerful kids have been able to do!

Ask your children:

(1) What are their favorite teams? Why?

(2) When do teams work well? When do teams NOT work well?

(3) If they were leading a team that was not working well together, what would they say to their team to help them grow together?

Discuss with your children:

(1) The teams you’ve been on and what you’ve experienced while on them.

(2) The most successful team you’ve ever been on and why.

(3) The least successful team you’ve been on and why.

At your Powerful Words Member School this month, we will be going over all this plus much more.  It’s an important month to learn about teamwork so keep us posted on how your children are doing and what lessons they’re putting to work at home, at school, and out in the community.  Check back with us often as we’ll be talking a lot about teamwork this month here at the Powerful Parenting Blog!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Eating Disorders Revealed: Interview with High Schoolers Who Used Their Challenges to Inspire Others

All teens deal with struggles in their lives. It takes a powerful teen to admit she has a problem, work through her challenges, and use what she’s learned to help others. This article is the result of an interview with Alex Shabo, a teen who is recovering from an eating disorder and helping others in the process. (Photo credit: Carol Britton Meyer)

Alex Shabo and Jasmine Benger are battling their eating disorders in public. And they’re winning.

These 2 high school students from the idyllic New England town, Hingham, Massachusetts (a town nearby to where I live) hosted an open forum entitled “Our Body- Our Sacrificial Self.” The presentation was an effort to bring awareness to eating disorders and help give support to others who are facing similar challenges.

“Women’s bodies have become material objects, and both men and women have begun to treat them as such,” Shabo and Benger agree. “Self-awareness can be lost beneath overwhelming, restrictive societal values and attitudes – which can lead to a distorted image of body, loss of self, and eating disorders.” (Wicked Local)

Jasmine’s eating disorder began in freshman year:

“It started as innocent dieting, if there is such a thing. I was trying to be healthier, watching what I ate, and it slowly turned into an obsession,” she said. “Pretty soon I’d cut out so many essential nutrients that I didn’t have the wherewithal to be like: ‘This is so messed up.’ I was really sick.” (Patriot Ledger)

Alex was a sophomore when her eating disorder began:

“I started dieting, to be healthy,” she said. “That’s what’s being thrown at you, that dieting is a way of life, a way you should live your life.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing the Alex personally so that they can help us understand how best to help our daughters and help us to better understand the challenges they face:

How was the turn out at the eating disorders forum you hosted?

We were very amazed by the turn out at our forum and we are actually doing at least four more for elementary schools, the middle school and the high school in Hingham.

What specific signs would you advise other parents to look for in their girls to figure out whether their daughters might have an eating disorder?

There aren’t always the physical signs that come out first for an eating disorder patient. Although anorexia does have the physical component (rapid weight loss), bulimia and binge eating disorder do not. Some signs besides the drop in weight is skipping meals, restricting on certain foods (fats, carbs, etc.), counting calories, going to the bathroom for a while right after meals… I know there are many more but it really differs for all cases. I know something that my mom said at the forum that was very powerful was that parents don’t want to see this sort of behavior in their child and tend to ignore it. A lot of parents wait till they get comments from outside sources which can sometimes be too late. The best thing for parents to do is to talk to their kid when they see any change in behaviors socially or regarding food.

What are 3-5 pieces of advice that you would give to other parents of girls who are grappling with an image conscious society?

MODERATION: In a society where diets are telling you to not have this and avoid that, it is best to enjoy everything in moderate amounts. You can still be eating but not eat the right things and still really put your body in harms way. I see moderation as eating what you feel like eating and enjoying it rather than obsessing over the calories. If you give your body what it is craving, you are least likely to have any obsessive thoughts. Moderation is definitely one of the most difficult parts to achieve in our society.

Be aware of what you say; self awareness: A lot of people find commenting on how a person looks as a way to determine their emotions. It is a sad reality but it is what people feed off of to determine their own outlook on themselves. There is really no need to talk about calories, diets, or the bodies of others. I would just say it is important to be mindful of what you say because you never know how it will affect people around you.

Don’t encourage a dieting household: I am always shocked when I meet girls who are struggling with eating disorders who has a mom on a diet at their house. Not only is there diet food around but now they have a mom stressing out over her body as much as she is. Diets really are a short-term relief and are not always the most nutritious for our bodies.

Would you say that other girls in Hingham are having similar problems with eating disorders but have not come forward? What made you come forward and talk about this when other girls in your class and school have not?

This is one of the most frustrating parts about our forum. Our town is brought up on perfection and image. Everyone has a greener lawn than the one next to them and competition is definitely high. Eating disorders are very secretive because the reaction from people can be so diverse. Some people understand and really take pride in a person being honest but most kids at our school just don’t understand it and don’t wish to learn. Immediately, you are judged by what you are eating, what you aren’t eating, how you look this day or that day. I was definitely nervous about putting our names out there because now everyone wants to see ‘what does someone who is recovering do/eat/look’.

I honestly, find closure and help in talking about my eating disorder. It really motivates me to stay on track in my recovering. Keeping it a secret is a burden that really cripples recovery. Rather than concentrating on helping yourself, you are trying to hide this huge secret from the rest of the world. Also, if we don’t talk about, it won’t get better. If it keeps being swept under the rug more girls and boys will develop it because they are just so uninformed.

Alex and Jasmine plan to have more forums for parents and students in the area.

Congratulations on using your challenges to help others. You are truly Powerful Girls. It took great courage, tenacity, and confidence to come forward, take control of your problems, and motivate others to do the same. You’ve likely inspired many people!

Scary Things Teens Do that Parents Don’t Know They’re Doing: Diabulimia

“M” was an attractive, effervescent 18 year old girl when I first met her. As one of my roommates, she loved to be around her friends and talk non-stop. She also would steal several bags of Milanos double chocolate cookies from the kitchen cabinet; eat them all in one sitting, and not gain and ounce. She was hiding a huge weight-loss secret. She had diabulimia; the diabetic’s eating disorder.  This disorder has joined other well-researched eating disorders such as Anorexia and Bulimia, and lesser known unstudied eating disorders like Wannarexia.

The facts:

Up to about 1/3 of young women and teens with Type 1 diabetes skimp or withhold on their insulin doses in a scary attempt to lose weight, according to new research out of the Joslin Diabetes Center. Girls and women who skip or skimp on these doses are more likely to suffer negative and serious side effects such as kidney failure, foot problems, and even death at a young age. In fact, diabulimia triples the risk of premature death about women who have diabetes.

Other studies on diabulimia indicate that these young women have higher rates of both nerve damage and eye problems.

In addition, young women with Type 1 diabetes are more than twice as likely to develop a full blown eating disorder (i.e. anorexia, bulimia) than women without diabetes who are the same age as them.

The Warning Signs

  • unexplained elevations in A1C values
  • consistent and persistent problems with diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) (these can be fatal)
  • unusual and extreme concerns about weight and body shape
  • an obvious change in eating patterns and food-related behavior
  • exercise bulimia— unusual and extreme patterns of concentrated exercise (sometimes associated with frequent hypoglycemia)
  • missing monthly period—called, amenorrhea

The Risks:

  • higher A1C levels
  • higher risk of developing infections
  • more frequent episodes of DKA
  • more frequent hospital and emergency room visits
  • higher rates and earlier onset of diabetes complications – nerve damage, eye disease, kidney disease and possible heart disease

Think you know someone with the problem? Ways to catch it:

The Strait Approach: Ask them about Diabulimia

Have they ever heard of diabulimia? Thought about it? Do they know the risks? Sometimes hearing about it or having a conversation about it can reveal what’s going on in the other person’s head.

The Direct Check: Verify their insulin intake

Is insulin being used? If insulin is being used correctly, there should be a consistent decrease in the bottle, insulin syringes used, and medical supplies discarded (i.e. alcohol swabs, gauze).

Weight Loss Monitoring: Witness side effects

Are they losing weight? Are they binge eating? Are they losing weight, showing signs of dehydration, exhaustion, depression, or ketoacidosis? If they are using insulin correctly and eating a healthy diet, they should have normal energy and typical and predictable weight patterns.

Intervention: Getting Help

Are you certain that there is a problem? If so, talk to the person who you believe to be affected by Diabulimia. Express your concern and your support. Turn to a trained doctor who can help the person deal with these very real issues. They typically do not go away by themselves.

Call the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) for more information or a referral (800-931-2237). They can also provide you with a referral if you fill out their referral form that is available on their website. You can also submit a question. Finally, parents, friends, and family members can also learn how to support their loved one through this trying time through the Parents, Family, and Friends Network.

As Powerful Parents, we all need to stay ahead of the curve and know what our children are doing. While we are making progress everyday to help our teens move forward and people speaking out on behalf of girls and women, we still have a long way to go. Let’s help our teens together.

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


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

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

See for yourself…

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

Remember to:

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

Have a Powerful Day!