8 Tips to Writing A Thank You Note to Your Teacher

lykes_parentchildteacher

It’s appreciation month for Powerful Words and many of our member schools are getting ready to celebrate “Teacher Appreciation Week.” That means that it’s a great time to write a letter of appreciation and gratitude to all our favorite teachers, coaches, instructors, and mentors in our lives.

At the end of last year, we discussed what to include in a letter of appreciation—but it stands repeating. Whether your child is writing the letter, your teen, or your writing it with them, these guidelines stand. So get your pens ready—and let’s talk gratitude!

  1. Be as specific as possible: Refrain from being too cliché and general. Tell them exactly why you appreciate them.
  2. Use paper or a card that allows you to express your unique self: Sometimes, those pre-written cards don’t cut it. Ask your child to create his own stationary or use a beautiful blank card in which you can write the message instead.
  3. Use a greeting and a closing that shows respect: Remind your kids to forget “hey,” “hi,” and “see you around.” Let’s show our teachers that we respect them and regard them highly.
  4. Handwrite it: Even if you don’t love your handwriting, handwritten notes always beat typed notes any day. Make it personal!
  5. Be gracious: Even if you and the teacher don’t always agree, highlight some of the ways that s/he has helped your child.
  6. Talk about how the lessons will influence your child: Which lessons will stick with your child for years to come? What changes have you seen in your child?
  7. Talk about the past and the future: The teachers and coaches at your local schools and Powerful Words schools have been helping your child for quite some time! What did you think when you first met this person? What did your child think?
  8. Don’t email it! Send the letter through the snail mail or give it directly to the person. Again, it’s about making it personal.

I recently received a beautiful book of letters from one of our Powerful Words Member Schools in Connecticut, filled with letters of appreciation from the students. What a gift that we will cherish! I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to hear how others feel about the work we do. It IS important to send letters of appreciation. You might think teachers know how you feel of that they don’t need to hear it from you, but coming from an educators standpoint—we appreciate it!

Many thanks to our Powerful Parents, our Powerful schools—and to you!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Diet Doping: The Scary Link Between Body Image and Drugs

scaleDiet Doping: Getting Thin at any Cost

Dr. Robyn Silverman

For many girls and women, “feeling fat” has become a common part of everyday life.  Dieting has become normal.  Complaining about weight is a social expectation.  And doing anything you can to achieve the perfect thin body, acceptable.

A recent online poll of 993 teens and women has suggested that a whopping 1 in 10 girls and women are using drugs to lose weight even though 67% were in the healthy weight range. What does that tell us?  The healthy weight range is not perceived as thin enough.  Hollywood hard bodies and Vogue model legs and abs are what we’re striving for.  No, it’s not often linked to health, it’s linked to looks.

Often, when attempting to lose weight, young girls subscribe to unhealthy practices such as quick fad diets or acts of purging including vomiting and laxative abuse instead of using a healthy regiment of exercise and maintenance of a balances diet.  Girls and women are looking for the quick fix– what’s going to make them thin NOW- not what’s going to make them healthiest in the long run.  In doing so, they turn to what IS NOT healthy.  In fact, in the poll, 10% of respondents to the poll owned up to taking stimulants like cocaine and speed, 26% said they were abusing diet pills or laxatives and one in 5 admitted to suffering form eating disorders. What’s healthy about that? It’s a practice I like to call “diet doping” and I’ll be talking about it in my upcoming book coming out in 2010.

Think it’s only the caucasian girls?  Nope.  The intense pressure to diet has amazing cross over affects.  Studies over the last 25 years have shown that rate of these subclinical eating practices, dieting and purging, and diet doping are increasing among all social and ethnic classes.

It’s very important that we begin conversations with our girls early about what it truly means to be healthy.  In doing so, we must also commit to being healthy ourselves and refrain from criticizing ourselves, using destructive methods to lose weight, or applauding others who lose weight at all costs as being “disciplined” and “healthy.”  Let’s get back to basics. I mean, remember when healthy meant having good balanced nutrition, energy, good support and well managed stress?  Let’s go back to that. Who’s with me?

Be healthy together– I know many of you already are. All you Powerful Parents out there whose families are engaging in being healthy by attending your Powerful Words Member School are showing your kids YOUR definition of healthy. Doing fun extracurriculars, being around positive people, talking about the link between your character and your physical health– you should all be applauded for taking these positive steps. Keep it going!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

How to Build a Powerful Confident Child: Confidence Quotes

boy_graduateDr. Robyn J.A Silverman

The powerful word of the month this month is confidence! Confidence is one of my favorite words because I feel that it’s the foundation for positive learning and living. With confidence, our children have the courage to try new things, meet new people, and be the person they were meant to be.

We never want children to pretend to be something they’re not because they believe that people will like them better if they are some imitation of someone else more popular. As Judy Garland once said, “Be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else”. With confidence, children can be innovative, creative, bold and assertive.

Nothing dampens a child’s ability to grow like a lack of confidence in oneself. We must encourage without over-praising, challenge without criticizing or hurrying, and love without comparing. As powerful parents, we are the first and last stop in our children’s day. As such, we must help to inspire one’s morning confidence so that they can be bold while learning and socializing at school and in their after-school activities.

On the flip side, we also must help them to wind down at night. That means asking about their day and telling them about ours. It means allowing them to review their choices and interactions, helping them problem solve and think of better ways of doing things, and, of course helping to ease them into a comfortable sleep knowing that they are loved just the way they are, no matter what decisions they made or fumbles that occurred. This is the amazing, challenging, and awesome job of a powerful parent.

CONFIDENCE QUOTES

“Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared believe that something inside of them was superior to circumstance.” ~Bruce Barton

“Laugh at yourself, but don’t ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don’t leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.” – Alan Alda

Two people, equally matched, equally prepared, equally determined to win. Who will be the winner? It’s certain to be the one with the confidence to say, “It’s me.” –Dr. Robyn Silverman

“The greatest barrier to success is the fear of failure.” –Sven Goran Eriksson

“The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.” – Andrew Carnegie

“I quit being afraid when my first venture failed and the sky didn’t fall down.” – Allen H. Neuharth

“Aerodynamically the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know that so it goes on flying anyway.” ~Mary Kay Ash

God wisely designed the human body so that we can neither pat our own backs nor kick ourselves too easily. ~Author Unknown

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dear Dr. Robyn: My Dad’s in Jail

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

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.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

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


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