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.


“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

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Dr. Robyn Answers: What Makes Powerful Words so Powerful for Kids?

What Makes Powerful Words So Powerful for Kids?

I’ve received some questions about Powerful Words Character Development lately and I wanted to take a moment to answer why Powerful Words is so powerful for children and why powerful parents are choosing schools that teach Powerful Words.

What’s so special about schools that teach Powerful Words?

Dr. Robyn, what’s a Power-Chat and how can it help my child or teen?

Dear Dr. Robyn,

I’ve heard you talking about “PowerChats” at the schools that teach Powerful Words. Can you tell me what a PowerChat is and how they might help my children?


Lisa Able, Chicago, IL

The most professional, progressive, and family-friendly sports activity-based academies don’t just teach a physical curriculum. They teach Powerful Words Character Development which inspires children, teens, and adults to become their very best!

One of the signature parts of the best character programs is the way each Powerful Word is conveyed to the students. In an after-school program, in which time is tight and attention spans can be short, a Power-chat is the perfect solution.

I create new, age-appropriate Power-chats every month for our member schools! A Power-chat is the five minute discussion about the featured Powerful Word of the Month. For example, this month’s Powerful Word is Tolerance and last month’s was fairness. These Power-chats are taught in every class so that each lesson builds on the last but does not repeat (so the children stay interested and excited about learning!).

Children, teens, and adults can answer questions about the Powerful Word, along with their classmates, and discuss how it’s important to them, how they’re exhibiting it, and any challenges they’ve seen with regard to that Powerful Word.  The Power-Chat allows the student to have a special interaction with their teacher as well as with others in their class while they are stretching and learning about character. While character is enhanced when adults model good character for their children, children also must be taught.  Powerful Words provides the lessons in an environment that supports and encourages powerful character.

I encourage leadership team members (usually teens and young adults) to help teach the Powerful Word in class as part of their own development as a leader. This accomplishes a few things (1) It provides older peer to younger peer learning—a great way to hold children’s attention; (2) It helps the teens and young adults get comfortable in front of a class and gain respect; and (3) By teaching Powerful Words, young leaders tend to absorb the messages and raise the bar when it comes to their own character. If your child is a leadership member or would like to be, this might be an area in which he or she can thrive.

Many of our member schools are open to you visiting and watching a Powerchat in action.  If you’re looking for a school in your area that teaches Powerful Words, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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Same as it never was

There’s something about coming home. I’m currently in NJ where I grew up and yet, I’m not really where I once was. Since my Dad passed away way too early and entirely too suddenly in 2006 from liver cancer, my Mom has since moved out of the house where I spent my entire childhood and moved into what I think can only be described as a college dorm of 55 and olders. Yes, the sticky floors and keg parties have been replaced with lovely apartments and games of cards, but still, my Mom lives steps from many of her best friends who get together nearly everyday.

These friends, all who seem familiar and yet many whom I had never met– appear to thankfully absorb some of the pain of loss and help to create new, fun memories for this now much more independent woman. I admit, I miss my old house– the memories– the way things were– but even if we were there, things wouldn’t be the same, would they? And my Mom wouldn’t be finding this new “life” in her life.

When I was a teenager, whenever I returned home from camp, or later, from college, I marveled about what was different. The bathroom countertop always seemed shorter, somehow, my reflection just a little bit older, and my room just a little bit smaller.

Now I look for what’s the same. It’s comforting to see the same restaurants, the same people, and the same stores. It’s challenging to rely on “sameness” though, isn’t it? It’s almost unfair. We change and yet, expect things to stay the same. Sameness gives us a marker of progress, a feeling of comfort, and something to depend on.

As the children go back to school in many areas of the world, and many tears are shed (mostly by the parents who are stunned that time has flown by) how can we welcome change when we rely on sameness?

  1. Talk about the good times but don’t dwell on the past: It’s often fun to meet up with old friends, talk about old times, and relive the memories. However, living in the past is both dangerous and impractical.
  2. Look for the good in change: While change can be unsettling for anyone– whether we’re talking about a child or a parent–it’s vital that we identify what benefits have made themselves known due to this change. There’s a reason cliches like “every cloud has a silver lining” exist.
  3. Don’t make “better/worse” comparisons: When we talk about what was better in the past, especially when it comes to things we can not change, we are setting ourselves up to feeling bad. Yes, things may be different, and yes, you might want to improve your current circumstances, but that should urge you to look forward rather than back!
  4. Tame your fears about change: Change doesn’t need to be negative. Change can be quite wonderful. We all have fears that tell us to hold onto the status quo. But often, the most wonderful things happen when we’re willing to take a risk and embrace the future.

Remember– the way you look at change is going to influence the way your children approach it.

Here’s to growing up and smiling at what’s to come-

Dr. Robyn Silverman Announces August’s Powerful Word of the Month

Hello Parents!

The Powerful Word of the Month this month is generosity! Your Powerful Words Member School will give you your Parents Perch letter, your Dear Dr. Robyn column, and the project(s) that your children will enjoy completing within the next few days.  All Powerchat discussions will revolve around generosity is sharing treasures, talents, time, and thanks with those they love as well as those who are in need.  What a wonderful month to get into the habit of giving!

Generosity Quotes:

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. –Maya Angelou

Blessed are those who can give without remembering and take without forgetting. –Elizabeth Bibesco

Giving connects two people, the giver and the receiver, and this connection gives birth to a new sense of belonging. –Deepak Chopra:

Giving is the secret of a healthy life. Not necessarily money, but whatever a person has of encouragement, sympathy and understanding. —John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

How wonderful it is that nobody needs to wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. –Anne Frank

We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then is not an act but a habit. –Aristotle

The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give. –Walt Whitman

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.  –Winston Churchill

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by what you bring to life. –John Homer Miller

“Generosity is immune to the laws of mathematics. When we give of ourselves, we do not wind up with less– but rather more than we had before we began.”Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Let’s get ready for a Powerful Month!

Children with Determination: Dr. Robyn Silverman Announces the Powerful Word of the Month

Dr. Robyn Announces July’s Powerful Word to Powerful Parents and Families


Have a Powerful Month!

Liar Liar: 7 Questions that Will Help your Children Choose Right Over Wrong

Is your child telling lies?

By: Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

The Powerful Word of the month for June will be honesty. So to give you a jump on thinking of this very important character concept, let’s bring the point of lying out into the open. After all, lying is very much part of growing up and understanding right from wrong, reality from fantasy and truth from untruth.

When my best friend, Randi, and I were about 7 years old we did something really stupid. It was 4pm on a Wednesday in November and we decided to go for a little stroll. No, not down the street, not around the block, but all the way to the bottom of the hill, aside a highly trafficked road (cars whizzing by at 60 miles per hour) and then back up the opposite side of the hill—only to nonchalantly saunter back towards Randi’s house, feathers sticking out of our mouths having eaten the proverbial canary.

I bet you could imagine how I felt; scared, invigorated, guilty, and triumphant all at the same time. My gut was doing somersaults. While we had never been told NOT to do such a thing, we knew it was wrong and we had gotten away with it. But just as we entered Randi’s house, she walked over to her mother and to my horror, confessed the whole thing. How could she? This was not part of the plan! I can still hear it ringing in my head, “Mommy, you always told me to tell the truth. Robyn and I walked down the hill and across Pleasant Valley Way.”

It would likely not surprise you that my mother was furious when she learned of the news. All I can remember her asking was, “what were you thinking???”

What was I thinking? I am sure I was hoping that I would get away with it. I am certain I was thinking it would be something fun to do. And I am quite positive that I was eager to fully avoid the amount of trouble that currently awaited me. And there was no question that I was in a lot.

Perhaps you’re conjuring up memories of the day that you or your child made one of those very bad choices. As parents, we always want our children to choose the safest and best decisions. When we are with them, we can ensure that it usually happens that way. When we aren’t, we leave it in their hands. This is why so many parents can’t sleep at nights even though we’re all so tired, right?

We must arm our children with some Powerful Questions that can help them to choose right over wrong.

(1) What is the voice inside my gut telling me to do? Teaching children to listen to their gut is a very important skill. Our bodies often tell us what our minds our try to disguise. If your child chooses right or wrong, ask them, what made you make that choice? What was your gut telling you to do? What will you do next time?

(2) Could I look my parents/friend/teacher in the eye after I do it? We often know when our children are lying because they can not look us in the eye. Helping your children to understand that answering “no” to this question is a sign that they may be on the verge of making a poor choice.

(3) Could I look at myself in the mirror after I do it? This is really the crux of it, isn’t it? In fact, this is the way my own mother explained the meaning of integrity to me. If our children feel that they could not look at their own selves in the mirror after making this choice and be proud of what they did, they should take it as a warning that the impending choice could bring them a feeling of regret or shame.

(4) Would I do this behavior whether someone was watching me or not? In my opinion, the definition of good character is choosing to do the right thing whether all eyes are on you or all eyes are looking away. If your child can not answer “yes” to both scenarios, then she should probably not be doing it.

(5) Does the end justify the means? This can be a tough concept for children. After all, if they want an A on their book report and get an A on their book report that should be a good thing, right? Yes, accept when that A is achieved through dishonest means such as cheating. Sometimes, children have trouble remembering that parents actually care more about effort and character than about their child being the very best regardless of the cost. We must be patient and clear up this confusion so that children will choose “right” over “best” when faced with a question of integrity.

(6) Am I doing this because it is right or because it is popular? We have all heard of peer pressure. This phenomenon can happen on a variety of levels. Think of the child who argues that his friend, who clearly lost the race, crossed the finish line first. In this case, the child succumbs to the rules of friendship over the rules of fairness and integrity. We also see it when the child chooses to climb the fence because his friends are doing it rather than because he desires to do it himself. Either way, he is letting the popular thing get in the way of doing the right thing. We must teach our children not to allow popularity to cloud our judgment because in the end, the truth always comes out.

(7) Am I being who I am or am I being who others want me to be? This question coincides with number 6. We want our children to be themselves. When they alter their thoughts, actions, appearance, or choices because others want it that way, they are doing a major disservice to themselves and others. On the one hand, they are not allowing others to get to know the real individual behind the farce. On the other hand, they are building their friendships on a lie. As Clarissa Pinkola Estes, author of Women Who Run with the Wolves, wrote, “If you live your life trying to please others, half the people will like you and half won’t. And if you live your life according to your own truth, half the people will like you and half won’t.” The underlying question it brings up—which half do you want as friends—those who like you for who you actually are or the person you are pretending to be?

As we know, mistakes will happen. If we use those mistakes to help our children make better choices next time, we will be strengthening their integrity. In the end, we are cultivating future leaders. And I imagine, as Powerful Parents, you would agree, that we want our future leaders to base their decisions on well-instilled values and principles rather than what is fast, popular, and self-serving.

This article was originally printed in the award-winning Bay State Parent Magazine.

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman is a child and adolescent development specialist whose programs and services are used by top educational facilities worldwide. She is also a success coach for parents and business leaders across the United States and Canada who are looking to achieve their goals, improve their lives or improve the lives of others. She presents to organizations, schools, and parents groups around the world on topics related to building character, leadership, communication, social networking and confidence. Interested in doing some coaching with Dr. Robyn or having Dr. Robyn present a seminar at your child’s school or at your business? Go to for more information.

Randy Pausch: On Loving the Teachers who Don’t Give Up on Us (and Are you Ruining My Child’s Self Esteem?)

“Experience is what you get is when you didn’t get what you want…We send our kids out to play football or soccer or swimming or whatever it is… for indirect learning..we don’t actually want them to learn football… We send our kids out to learn much more important things; teamwork, sportsmanship, perseverance, etc. etc.” –Randy Pausch

Dear Parents,

This inspirational video is of Randy Pausch giving his last lecture. The full YouTube version is posted here– and well worth the view– but here’s is a shortened version (10 minutes) that played on Oprah for your convenience. In the spirit of Gratitude Month and Teacher Appreciation Week at all our Powerful Words family schools, it seemed fitting to post something about the teachers and role models who push us and never give up on us even when we’re ready to give up on ourselves.

Aren’t you ruining my child’s self esteem?

By Dr. Robyn Silverman

Mrs. Phillips came to talk to me while her son, Patrick, age 8, was in class. “Patrick was upset the other day because his teacher corrected him three times on one of his skills. When you tell him he’s doing something wrong, aren’t you ruining his self esteem?”

This story came to mind today when I was watching a video of the inspirational “last lecture” of Randy Pausch, who’ll likely die of liver cancer within the next few months. I love watching videos like these because they shine such a bright light on learning and put a fire in my belly. In fact, they make me feel like running to the helm of a ship and yelling “I’m the king of the world!”

Anyway, Professor Pausch said; “when you’re screwing up and nobody’s saying anything to you anymore, that means they’ve given up…your critics are the ones who still love you and know you can.” Boy, do I agree with that–although, it’s not always easy to experience criticism and it can be excruciating to watch someone we love being critiqued.

I’ll let you in on a little secret–I wrote an article on my own experience with this phenomenon. At Tufts, my advisor was known to be the toughest in my department. My dissertation was often filled with red marks and comments like “no!” “wrong!” and “don’t say this” throughout it’s 150 pages. While I’m not recommending my advisor’s blunt delivery, I appreciate his persistent pushing. Would he be helping me by giving me a disingenuous pat on the back? Certainly not.

Interestingly, after I was awarded my doctorate, he did say something to me that I’ll never forget; “I was hard on you because I always knew you could do better. And you did. In fact you did so well that you became one of the very best.” I felt as though I had destroyed every brick wall placed in front of me and I was ready to take on the world.

So, what about the claim Mrs. Phillips made about her child’s self esteem? While too much criticism in the absence of praise can be detrimental, too much praise in the absence of critique is just as damaging.

Feelings of self worth, esteem, and gratification come from overcoming challenges. They derive from hard work, perseverance, self discipline, and self reliance. They don’t come from simply being the best but rather, doing one’s personal best and raising the bar higher every time we approach a skill. These feelings don’t come from our teachers and parents telling us we’re doing well when we aren’t or telling us we’re doing “the best” when we’re not putting in “our best.” They come from when others, whose opinions we value, tell us that they know we can do better and then notice it when we do.

In the end, we gain self esteem when we break through brick walls when even we wondered if we could.

As parents, while it may be difficult to watch out children be critiqued, it is a gift to find teachers who care enough to push them and see to it that they reach their potential. It’s this experience that they can take away from their Powerful Words family school and apply it to everything they do.

Nobody ever feels satisfied while leaning against a brick wall that blocks their dream as their superheroes yell “at-a-boy!” But I’ve certainly felt the rush of achievement when I’ve barreled through brick walls, bruises and all, with my mentors and loved ones nodding their heads saying, “we knew you could do better. And you did.”

Here’s to you– for seeking out teachers who inspire your children to live out their dreams,