Got Goals? The 7 Deadly Downers that Dash Your Dreams

New Years Resolution and Goal Setting

The 7 Deadly Downers that Sabotage Your New Year’s Resolutions:

Help Your Family Obtain Goal-Setting Success!

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Have a New Year’s resolution? Watch out.  These 7 deadly downers can sabotage your goals.

Many POWerful bits of information come in 7s. Seven numbers in a phone number, seven days in a week, and seven wonders of the world. Most people say that their favorite number between 1 and 10 is seven. Of course, seven can showcase the bad things of this world as well, such as the seven deadly sins to avoid.

And now…

The Seven POWerful Downers that Hold People Back from Goal-setting Success! After all, the January 2009 Powerful Word of the Month is Goal-Setting– so we want want our children and families to be on the look out for these negative words.

(1) No: Such a small word but like an ant, powerful for its size. It’s arguably one of the most powerful words in the
English dictionary. Definitive by nature, it requires no other explanation for what it means. It’s the enemy of progress
and the dasher of dreams.

(2) Can’t: This word is a mind-trick. “Can’t” is the little voice inside our heads that tells us what we are not able to do.
Even if we’ve never tried it or attempted to do this thing this particular way before, “can’t” has already decided the outcome.  Tacking on a simple apostrophe and that one little letter “t” to the end takes this word from emphatic and positive to pathetic and negative.

(3) Won’t: Won’t is our inner child throwing the proverbial tantrum. “Won’t” is bratty and uppity, immature and insistent in getting its way. With folded arms, nose up in the air, and a smug look, “won’t” will easily cut off its nose to spite its face.

(4) Never: A POWerful Downer indeed. “Never” is infinite permanence. “Never” robs us of our power of choice for the
future. What feels impossible today is assumed to be insurmountable in the future despite changes in circumstance,
wisdom, and guts.

(5) Maybe: This word is just plain wishy-washy. It means nothing. Neither gutsy enough to say yes or direct enough to say no, “maybe” provides little hope for progress when there has been no definitive commitment.

(6) If: This tiny word is full of it. Projection, that is. “If” blames others when things don’t go its way. “If” takes the onus off of itself and lays it like a monkey on someone else’s back. It has the power of negating everything said before it with just one small insertion. It whines and begs for someone else to do the work or just simply, make it happen.

(7) Someday: While this word seems genteel enough, the reality is, it wants to sell you a bill of goods. It’s a snake-oil salesman. “Someday” is procrastination in action-there is no commitment, no follow-through, and no progress. “Someday” might tease someone-it might play a trick or two on the brain, but someday has no power for good until someday becomes today.

Actions may speak louder than words, however, these words bark loudly in one’s head. In this next year, you can make a choice to fill your mind with “yes,” “I can,” “I will,” “always,” and “now” or the Powerful Downers detailed above. They are your goals, your dreams, your hopes, and your life. Take back the power.

Here’s to Powerful Goal Setting and Goal Getting Success in 2009!

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Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

How to Write a Thank-you Note to Teachers: 9 Things to Remember

When the truth feels so good: Writing a Thank-you Note to the Teacher

December 2009 update:

Would you please vote for me for best Parenting Blog?  It only takes a moment! Thank you!!!

It’s the end of the school year. Many of you are saying, “thank goodness.” But let’s not forget to say “thank-you” to the teachers.

We’ve talked about gratitude and 10 great ways to say thank-you to teachers in the past, but I bring it up again since we are in the home stretch– Spring Fever is just about to turn into Summer Fervor in many parts of the world. Our minds might be on getting out but there is something we must do first.

Teachers, coaches, instructors, tutors and mentors have worked hard this year. You might not have always loved them, you may not have always agreed with them, but all of us can come up with a list of ways that they’ve been helpful. Think for a moment about the times when they went out of their way for you or your children. Think of all lessons they’ve taught your children. How did they show their understanding? How did they share their knowledge? How did they make something a little easier for you—and yet made your children challenge themselves in ways that they couldn’t have done themselves?

What to write in a thank-you note to the teacher:

Be specific: When writing a thank-you letter to the teacher, don’t fall back on overused phrases and colloquialisms. It’s important to customize the thank-you letter, so that it can only be for that one person—that teacher—impossible to interchange with another. What is it about that teacher that you appreciate?

Refrain from saying things like “Thank you for teaching class to my child. He learned a lot.”

Instead, write something like “I want to express my sincerest gratitude for your hard work this year. You should be congratulated for the innovative lesson plans you created. Johnny particularly liked your science experiment with the potato and the match. He still talks about it today.”

Use Stationary or Cards that Allows you to Express Yourself: Pre-written thank-you cards with fancy writing and a make-shift poem doesn’t really say a lot about you or the teacher.

  • Choose a blank card where you can write your own thoughts.
  • Buy or make some stationary with your child.
  • Fold a piece of card stock in half and have your child draw a picture on the front especially for the teacher.
  • When a group is involved, you can get creative! Take some pictures and use that to decorate your note of thanks. For example, check out this cute idea

Use a Nice, Respectful Greeting: Don’t just write the message. Start with a formal greeting. People often forget to this in our “rush, rush” world. Or worse yet—they use something like “Hi” of “Hey.” As my mother used to say to me, “Hey is for horses, Robyn, start with a nice greeting.” And remember, people’s favorite word in the world? Their name. Something like :Dear Coach Suzie” will work fine.

Use your own handwriting: While you might not think it looks as nice as a type-written note, handwritten notes always beat out any font. It’s personal! Put pen to paper and take your time. The teacher will certainly appreciate it.

Be gracious: For those of you who have loved this year’s teacher or coach, the toughest part might be finding just a few lines to sum it up. For those of you who had a frustrating year with a teacher, the toughest part might be finding something nice to say. You may have had a tough time with this teacher and you may not have appreciated all of his or her choices, but there must be something you can be thankful for this year.

Again, refrain from, “I’m writing to say thank-you. You were helpful and fun. We appreciate it.”

Instead say, “We are so thrilled that you were Laura’s teacher this year. Thank-you for taking the time to help her with her math homework—she had been struggling until you taught her those little “tricks.” It really made a difference as you know!”

Talk about how the lessons will influence your child: The lessons your child learns don’t lose their impact when your child walks out the door. They stick with your child. The best teacher or coach will have taught lessons that last indefinitely. I still remember the teachers that taught me to believe in myself and cite them often in my presentations and trainings. Be sure to recognize these important feats.

Refrain from saying; “We’ll remember you fondly.”

And instead, say something like;

Peter will always remember when you said; “You have terrific, creative ideas—write them down because they’ll help a lot of people one day.” He now has a journal filled with ideas for inventions and experiments he wants to do. Because of you, he has taken such an interest in learning that will stick with him always.

Talk about the past and the future: The teacher has been helping your child for quite some time! Especially when dealing with a retiring teacher or a coach/instructor who has been part of your child’s life for a long time, it’s important to talk about the beginning. What did you think when you first met this person? What did your child think?

Refrain from saying; “Chris was glad he got you as his coach. He hopes to see you next year.”

Instead say: Chris liked you from the moment he met you. He said to me; “Mr. Don is so cool!” You certainly did not disappoint! He told me yesterday, “I want to make sure we see Mr. Don this summer and join his class when he starts in September again!” We’ll certainly be there when you start up classes again in the Fall—and we’ll be there this Summer for the school bash!

Even if your child is continuing classes throughout the summer, like many Powerful Words Member programs such as martial arts, gymnastics, swim, or dance, it’s important to take time to thank them for the work they’ve already done this year—just tell them that you’ll see them tomorrow or next week in class instead of next year!

Thank them again: After all, this is the point of the note!

Sign it: Believe it or not, people forget. Be sure to let them know who you are! Be gracious and sign it kindly.

Refrain from signing it:

–Joe Murphey

And instead sign it with one of these and your name:

  • Sincerely
  • With Kind regards
  • Warmest regards
  • Yours truly
  • Best regards
  • Our deepest thanks
  • Love (in certain cases)

And this should go without saying—I certainly hope it does—don’t email it! Send the letter through the snail mail or give it directly to the person. It’s personal and many teachers, coaches, and educators want to keep these things in files, up on their desk, or in a special place where they can look at it.

Here’s to gratitude—we love our educators!

The ABCs of Parenting and Stress Management: 26 Ways to Get Through the Most Trying Days

Not feeling very “Powerful” today?
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By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Trying to cope with a toddler tantrum on an hour’s worth of sleep?

Battling with your teen about staying out to late?

Nobody said that parenting was going to be easy, but come on!

Don’t you wish that someone gave you the manual for parenting and stress management when your little bundle of joy was born?

Arm yourself from A to Z with 26 tips that will get you through the most trying days:

A- Accept the things you can not change: Single parenting? Step parenting? ADHD parenting? Just dealing with time crunches, making lunches, bunches and bunches of bills? It’s important to recognize that there are some things you can not control, surrender, move on.

B- Breathe: When things get hairy, scary, and you feel like you can barely hold on, take a step back, breathe, and be calm.

C- Count your blessings. Even though you have the weight of the world on you right now and feel far from compassionate for others who have things much worse than you do, there is some value in taking a moment to look at the things that are going right today, such as your child’s tantrum-free morning or how your spouse took out the trash…

D- Decompress. Believe it or not, there are many who do not know how to take a break. Some parents don’t even realize that it’s okay to take a break. Take time out to read a book, go out or simply hang out with family or friends. A happy parent is much more productive than a crabby one.

E- Eat nutritiously. We take care of everyone but ourselves…working, chauffeuring, monitoring homework, cooking and so on. Remember to eat breakfast and be sure to eat more than just a power bar for lunch! Nourish your body so you can nourish your mind so you won’t go crazy on top of everything else.

F- Focus on the big picture. Does it really matter that your child insists on wearing his Spiderman pajamas to the supermarket again? You’ve heard it before. Don’t sweat the small stuff (and yes, this is small). When choosing between Spidy and sanity, choose sanity.

G- Go to the gym. Do yoga. Step outside and take a long walk. Take a martial arts or dance class. Just get your body moving. Exercise will not only keep you fit and healthy to do the best parenting job you can (not to mention keep up with the kids) it will also help to clear your mind.

H- Hang up the phone. Sometimes we spend more time on the phone than with the kids, and then we wonder why they act up while we’re on the phone. Reserve some “family only” time so that the kids won’t feel so deprived of your attention and when you do need to converse on the phone, you’ll be able to without interruption.

I- Identify the kind of family you are aiming to be. Have you ever sat down with your family and actually discussed the kind of family you aim to be? Respectful? Kind? Supportive? Discuss those Powerful Words! Get your family together, discuss and create the vision as a team so everyone is on board and knows what they are trying to achieve.

J- Joke around. Don’t take everything so seriously! What makes your hair turn gray today will likely make your face turn beet red with laughter one day down the road.

K- Kiss, hug and show affection. Affection is such a simple thing that can make your family feel more secure as opposed to feeling like they need a therapist! Set the precedent for your family and show that you appreciate one another.

L- Listen to your family. Your children have great stories to tell. Your significant other has dreams about the future. When we listen, we expand our minds and catch all the subtleties that otherwise pass us by. Listening enables us to know what to say and when to say it.

M- Make time for family fun. Shuttling between extracurricular activities all the time? Remember that it’s important to take time out for family fun. Take a vacation, have a family game night, go for a bike ride together. It’s important to do something together and that everyone will enjoy.

N- Negotiate time for the couple. We all love spending time with the kids, but it is just as important for the couple to spend private time together. Rekindle your love every week, whether it’s going out to dinner alone or spending time cuddling while the kids are at Grandma’s house.

O- Open your mind to “the opposition.” You and your partner are a united force, however you may not always agree. Take time to listen to the points of the other person and come to a compromise.

P- Play with your friends. Go to a movie, play golf, go to lunch! Having some adult company, conversation and laughs will make the days more pleasant and manageable.

Q- Quiet your mind. Fretting over the past is as constructive as nailing a cube of Jello to the wall. When it’s time to relax, turn off your mind and let the day go.

R- Recruit some outside support. Need help reaching your personal and family goals? Enlist the help of a coach who will help you deal with present challenges and create action plans to make the most of your future.

S- Simplify your family’s schedule. There really is no need to commit your child to 40 different activities per week. One or two activities during the school year is okay. Really.

T- Teach the lessons you want them to know. Schools do not teach character development, parents do. When you teach your child about respect and teamwork, you get respect and teamwork.

U- Utilize your resources. Did the grandparents volunteer to baby-sit? Did your neighbor offer to tutor your kids in that math you don’t understand? Take them up on their offers. Reaching out for help enables us to collect ourselves and do the things we do well.

V- Value your time. Learn to say “no.” It’s important to be involved and volunteer your time to help with fundraisers and so on, but don’t overextend yourself. It takes time away from your family and robs you of your sanity.

W- Wipe the tears. Yours and theirs. Holding grudges or letting anger and misery simply fester under the surface builds resentment and uneasiness. This is a legacy you do not want to leave.

Y- Yearn to grow and learn. Just because you are a parent does not mean that you no longer can work on expanding your own mind and achieving your own goals. You may need to modify your ambition, but you can still express yourself, volunteer, take courses or even teach!

Z- Zzzzzzzz. Try to make up for that lost sleep. Parenting always seems easier when you are rested.

Have a Powerful (and stress-free) Week!

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Webmaster’s Note: This article was first published in Bay State Parent Magazine. Dr. Robyn is an award-winning columnist, honored by Parenting Publications of America, who writes for that publication.