Questions to Ask Your Children about Trust

Family around dinner tableDr. Robyn Silverman

Some parents have asked me for some great conversations they can have at their dinner tables about the Powerful Wordtrust.  It’s a great idea to set aside time to talk about values and listen to what your children have to say.  You can even put some questions on cards and put them in the middle of the table, have each person pick a card, read it, and answer.  Or simply take turns answering the question around the table.

You can take the same principal and do “sentence stems.” This is when you start a sentence and have someone else finish it.  It reveals how your family members think is a fun way.

Here are some examples of “Powerful conversation starters” and “Sentence stems” you can use to talk about trust and honesty.

  1. Is it ever alright to lie? Can you think of a time when you might have to lie? What would the rest of the family think about that?
  2. Is it ever alright to steal? Can you think of a time when you might have to steal? What would the rest of the family think about that?
  3. Who are the people, other than those in your family, who you trust the most? What makes you trust them?
  4. When was the last time that you showed someone that you are a trustworthy person?
  5. If someone breaks trust once, do you think he’ll do it again? Why or why not?
  6. When I make a promise…
  7. When someone tells me a secret…
  8. When someone trusts me I feel…

I’m sure you can think of your own Powerful Conversation Starters and Powerful Sentence Stems that you can bring to your dinner table. Sometimes you might find that you’ll go through many– other times you might find that an involved and interesting conversation comes from one little question.

Try it– and let us know the results!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Children’s Books on Trust

trust_bookDr. Robyn Silverman

I’ve recently been asked about ways to bring up the Powerful Word, Trust, in your family.  One way to do that is through Children’s Literature.  With so many books to choose from– and books for all ages, reading is a great way to get kids thinking. Not everything is about computers, right? Ask your librarian to help you choose books that echo the themes you’re learning in your Powerful Words Member School.

Here are just a few children’s books that use trust as a central theme:

Books on Trust

The Berenstain Bears and the Truth, written and illustrated by Stan and Jan Berenstain
This book from the popular Berenstain Bear series teaches your children about the importance of telling the truth. When Brother and Sister Bear accidentally break Mama’s favorite lamp, a little lie grows bigger and bigger until Papa Bear helps them find the words that set everything right again.

The Boy who Cried Wolf, Fable

“A liar will not be believed, even when telling the truth.” There was a Shepherd Boy who tended his sheep at the foot of a mountain near a dark forest. He thought it would be funny to play a trick on the villagers. He rushed down towards the village calling out “Wolf, Wolf,” and the villagers came out to meet him. This pleased the boy so much that a few days after he tried the same trick, and again the villagers came to his help. Shortly after this a Wolf actually did come out from the forest. The boy cried out “Wolf, Wolf,” still louder than before. But this time the villagers, who had been fooled twice before, thought the boy was again lying, and nobody came to his aid.

The Butter Battle Book, by Dr. Seuss. NY: Random House, 1984.
This story presents a ridiculous example of prejudice against people who do things differently. It looks at pride in one’s own beliefs and examines trust, respect and responsibility.

Falling Up – Poems and Drawings, by Shel Silverstein. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1996.
This collection of poems includes several that focus on trust, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship.

George and Martha Rise and Shine, by James Marshall. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1976.
This is comprised of Five short stories teach about lying, helping people, joining in, comforting and trusting.

A Light in the Attic – Poems and Drawings, by Shel Silverstein. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1981.
This collection of poems includes several that focus on trust, respect, responsibility, caring, fairness and citizenship.

The Lion and the Mouse- Aesop’s Fable

This fable features the story of a lion who was awakened from sleep by a Mouse running over his face. Rising up angrily, he caught him and was about to kill him, when the Mouse piteously entreated, saying: “If you would only spare my life, I would be sure to repay your kindness.” The Lion laughed and let him go. It happened shortly after this that the Lion was caught in some ropes by the hands of some hunters. The Mouse, recognizing his roar, came gnawed the rope with his teeth, and set him free. The story shows that even someone weaker and smaller can uphold their promises and be trustworthy.

The Real Thief by W. Steig, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

Gawain the goose is really devoted to King Basil the bear and so he takes his job as Chief Guard of the Royal Treasury seriously. When rubies, then gold ducats, and finally the world-famous Kalikak diamond vanish from the treasure house, there is no way to account for the disappearances. Only Gawain and the King have keys! Gawain is falsely accused of stealing the precious commodities until the real thief steps forward with a guilty conscience.

Trust Me, Mom! by Angela McAllister

Today is the day that Ollie will finally be allowed to go to the store all by himself. He can barely contain his excitement, and Collins’s exuberant illustrations show him leaping down the stairs. His mother’s instructions are also very comically rendered, as she dons fake glasses and a mustache when warning him not to talk to anyone. He is quite confident and reassures her with the title phrase, Trust me, Mom. But he doesn’t venture far before he encounters a monster, something his mother didn’t caution him about. After scaring the creature away with a loud roar, Oliver resourcefully deals with a ghost, a witch, a bear, and two aliens before successfully completing his errand. The text has appealing turns of phrase, as when the ghost fades away like a sad puff of breath after Oliver tells it that he doesn’t believe in it.

The Wild Kid by Harry Mazer (1998) Gr. 4-6.

Sammy, a 12-year-old with Down syndrome, doesn’t intend to run away. But he ends up lost in a forest preserve, eventually falling over the hideout of Kevin, a reform-school escapee who has been living in the preserve for months or, perhaps, years. Not willing to have his cover blown, Kevin doesn’t know what to do about Sammy. As the two share fragments of their life stories, Kevin shows Sammy the ropes, and both find their mutual distrust fading. Ignoring Kevin’s scorn, Sammy decides that Kevin should come live with him and be his brother. The 13-day adventure is seen entirely from Sammy’s point of view, and Mazer captures his world, his feelings, and his reactions with convincing surety. Readers will be equally drawn by Kevin’s internal struggle between loneliness and fear of discovery, though he remains a less well defined character. In the end, Kevin makes an anonymous call to police, then fades back into the forest, leaving Sammy with a story that no one really believes, plus the poignant expectation that his “brother” will come soon. Kevin’s sudden disappearance makes a stimulating loose end that may, paradoxically, strengthen readers’ responses to this survival-story-with-a-difference.

Take a look at others! Please add your favorites…

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dear Dr. Robyn: My Dad’s in Jail


Dear Dr. Robyn,

My Dad’s in jail because he broke the law and did something really dumb that I don’t even want to talk about. My Mom has to work all the time and she always cries and my little brother seems like he doesn’t want to talk to anyone not even me. He says he wants to see us and to visit him in jail but I don’t know because I’m really mad at him. I don’t trust him anymore. I don’t even know what to do please help. -Izzy

Dear Izzy,

I’m so sorry about what you’re going through. I can tell you are in great pain and it doesn’t seem at all fair. I’m glad you reached out.

When a parent goes to prison, it can feel like the entire family is being punished. You’re now living in a one-parent household with a parent who seems sad, overwhelmed and overworked. You probably are dealing with conflicting feelings. You may miss him and feel like you hate him all at the same time. You love your father but you may be frustrated by what he did, embarrassed that he broke the law, and angry or sad that he’s not at home with you and your family. You might even be thinking that your parent is “a bad person” or that you “don’t even know him anymore.”

First, remember that you don’t have to make any decision right away. You can take some time to sort out your feelings and decide what to do. Write out your feelings in a diary or talk to a friend, relative, mentor, teacher, instructor, doctor or religious confidante. When we talk or write things out, we can come to conclusions. You don’t want to bottle things up.

Second, keep doing the things you love. Spend time with friends. Stay involved with your activities like martial arts, gymnastics, and drama. Surround yourself with people you live and the people who love you. Keeping a routine, as much as you can, and spending time with supportive people who care, can help you cope during this rough time. Second, you can choose to write letters to your parent. This way, you open the lines of communication between you and your parent without seeing him until you’re ready.

Third, you can visit your parent if that is an option. Visits can help you rebuild your relationship, answer the questions you have on your mind, and work out your feelings. While visits can be stressful, they may help you to get on a path of healing.

Fourth, you can look into information and support groups that can help you through this tough time (.e. Rainbows, Family Connection Centers, Crisis Centers, Online Communities ). Talking out your frustrations and concerns with others who are going through a similar situation can make you feel less alone. You may feel like the only one going through this but you’re not–The 2004 prison population report showed that there are approximately 2.26 million people incarcerated in U.S. prisons. That means a lot of families are affected. The support groups may give you the space and support you need. Encourage your family to go as well.

Fifth, remember that keeping the anger and frustration to yourself isn’t helpful to you or anyone else around you. I know that you’ve been part of a Powerful Words member school for a while now and you know that forgiveness, empathy, and anger management are all important for our health.

This may be a tall order, and you will probably never forget what your father did, but perhaps, in time, you can learn to forgive. Continue to reach out. You don’t have to do this alone. In time, and with some support and emotional digging, you’ll know what to do. Listen to your gut and ask for help when you need it.

We’ll be thinking of you.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

My Child is Stealing! Dr. Robyn Talks about Trustworthiness

Ask Dr. Robyn: Tips for Dealing with a Child who Steals

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Has your child from a store? From a friend’s house? From someone in the family? It turns out, it’s not that uncommon! Perhaps they don’t understand that stealing is wrong as of yet.  Perhaps they’re trying to get your attention.  Perhaps they simply lack self control at this time.  Whatever the reason, we know we want to teach our kids that stealing is wrong. Since this month’s Powerful Word is Trustworthiness, let’s talk about exactly what to do if you find out your child is stealing.

Dear Dr. Robyn,

The other day, my six year old and I went to the supermarket. When we got into the car after shopping, I noticed that she had a pack of gum in her hand. I found out later…that she stole it from the store. I do not want my child to become a little thief. She has never done it before and I can’t imagine where she learned it. What should I do? –Greg, Toledo OH

We’ll be talking about stealing during week 2 of the Powerful Words curriculum this month at all member schools.

Have a Powerful Day!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dr. Robyn Silverman Introduces The February Word of the Month: Trustworthiness

Trustworthiness Quotes

“A man who doesn’t trust himself can never really trust anyone else.” –Cardinal  De Retz

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.” —  Friedrich Nietzsche

“Trust must be proven and maintained; for as strong as it is under pressure, it cracks like and egg when betrayed.”  –Dr. Robyn Silverman

“It is better to suffer wrong than to do it, and happier to be sometimes cheated than not to trust.” –Samuel Jackson

“People ask me why it’s so hard to trust people, and I ask them why is it so hard to keep a promise.” –Anonymous

“I trust those who follow rules they don’t entirely believe more than I trust those who believe in rules they don’t entirely follow.” — Cat and Girl by Dorothy Gambrell

Make your judgment trustworthy by trusting it” — Grantland Rice

A true friend never breaches the trust of his companion or stabs in his back. He is trustworthy and reliable. One should therefore always try to be a true and reliable friend. ” –Sam Veda