Dr. Robyn Silverman Interviews Cheri Meiners and Reads Her Children’s Book

Dr. Robyn Reads Try and Stick With It and Interviews Author, Cheri Meiners

Dr. Robyn: We are focusing on the Powerful Word, Determination, this month. The students are learning how they can use determination in their lives everyday! What are some easy and interesting ways that parents can help their children learn determination?

Meiners: The ‘Try and Stick with it’ book includes several fun activities at the back for parents to do with their children, as well as 12 strategies that children can use to develop perseverance and determination (note, see video of Dr. Robyn reading the book above). Parents can also talk about people who have shown determination in overcoming a problem, or at developing a new skill. This can be done through reading biographies, or talking about people you know. You might also discuss scenarios that children typically face, such as those in the book, and talk about how it feels to accomplish something that you put your mind to.

Dr. Robyn: What made you decide to write the book?

Meiners: I started writing this series and this book, particularly, to help children see how a skill like determination is developed, and what the positive outcomes can be. The first books I wrote were for my own children, and I realized that other parents could benefit from having these character building skills taught visually and logically to a child. The books are written in the first person so that the child, through repetition, begins to understand and apply the principles internally.

There are two themes that I wanted to address in this book. The first is that we all need to have the flexibility, courage, and determination to try new things. The determination to try something new builds self-confidence, and is the starting point for future growth. And then, of course, it takes determination to continue in a challenging path—but it brings rewards to oneself and others.

Dr. Robyn: All the Powerful Words Member Schools are teaching the youngest students that determination is a “no quit-go-for-it attitude.” We want children to learn the importance of seeing things through until they reach the end. In your view, why is it so important for children to learn to “stick with it.”

Meiners: Everything that a person learns, knows and accomplishes comes from ‘sticking with something’ because all skills take time and practice to develop. A person who has practiced determination is also much stronger and able to handle adversity when faced with it. We all face problems and challenges, and determination can help in overcoming them. All the medical and technical advances and artistic works that we enjoy in our culture are the result of determined individuals. Each of us has something important to share with others, but those skills and our own character must be developed through perseverance and determination. When children ‘stick with it’, they also learn about themselves–what things they like to do, and what things they are good at. ‘Sticking with it’ will also help a child get along with others because other people will learn to trust and count on a person who has the determination to follow through with commitments.

Dr. Robyn: Sometimes it can be difficult for young children to see things through until they reach the end. For parents and teachers, it can be hard to watch their children cope with failure and rough spots along the way to success. How can parents help to support determination in their children when children are struggling?

Meiners: Giving praise and encouragement for children’s efforts can motivate children to develop greater determination, and when used consistently is a powerful tool in shaping behavior. Also, be specific in pointing out the steps that they have already taken in reaching a particular goal, and let them know you believe in their ability to accomplish it.

Thank you!

Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed., has her master’s degree in elementary education and gifted education. A former first-grade teacher, she has taught education classes at Utah State University and has supervised student teachers. Cheri and her husband, David, have six children. They live in Laurel, Maryland.

Want to Read the Book Yourself? Here’s how! Try and Stick With It (Learning to Get Along)

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Just say no…later…to Drugs: Have Teens Gone Mad or Are Adults Sending Mixed Messages?

Friday Musings: An Opinion Piece by Dr. Robyn Silverman

Hold onto your tempers and excuse my temporary sarcasm. The last few weeks offer a bumpy, pot-hole infested ride.

Recently, it seems that free speech has been taken to the limit but at the same time, convoluted messages are being sent and practiced all over the US. My mind is swimming with a number of stories in the last few weeks that have made me say “What? Have we all gone mad?” as others are questioning if it’s MADD that has gone loco.

New meaning to the term “high schoolers”

So, first there was the story of the 15 year old girl, Heather McCurry, who thought it would be a great fundraising project (the young entrepreneur wanted to buy a laptop) to sell pot brownies to students at her school.

Another student had helped to expose the misguided McCurry, when she went to the nurse complaining of a racing heart.

“We get that type of idea that maybe someone is under the influence we act immediately. We know that students do not learn well under the influence. We will take every step we can to make sure that doesn’t happen in our schools,” said Barbara Gideon, Pflugerville ISD.

The law may teach the lesson: McCurry faces felony charges of selling drugs to a child—a crime that carries a punishment of two to 20 years in jail and a fine up to $10,000.

Where could she get such an idea? Oh, yes of course, the recipe is on the web for any child to see.

And yes, it happened in Ohio as well!

A high school class trip was cut short when a boy got sick. The student had eaten a brownie laced with pot.

“We’re saddened that some students acted inappropriately, and we’ll deal with it according to our school policy,” Spano said.

School administrators were interviewing students and conducting an investigation, she said, adding the police liaison officer probably would be involved.

Juxtaposition: No wonder why children are getting mixed messages

A self-published children’s book about parents smoking pot has been all over the airwaves and press. The book, filled with colorful child-friendly pictures and text talks about how smoking marijuana is a harmless activity adults do. Hey—as it says in the book, “even presidents do it,” an obvious reference to Bill Clinton’s admission—although, of course, he didn’t inhale.

The story is about a child named Jackie. Jackie catches her parents smoking a joint (“just a plant,” mind you) in their bedroom after detecting a skunky smell when trying to nod off to sleep one night. Jackie’s mother then takes her on an adventure where she can talk to other people who also grow, endorse, or smoke pot for grown-ups.

In a similar spirit of the self-published plastic surgery book, “My Beautiful Mommy,” the website for “It’s Just a Plant” claims that this book on smoking pot is “for all parents” to read to their children. Right. Just like Everybody Poops.

Here’s an excerpt;

“What do you do with the flowers?” asked Jackie.

“My friends eat them,” said Bob, “and smoke ‘em.”

“They smoke flowers?!”

“Yep. Doctors, teachers, artists, actors, even mayors and presidents. Marijuana makes some people feel happy. Other people say it’s ‘dreamy…’”

The author believes that educating children in this way is our best defense against children smoking pot when young—he shows parents smoking pot in the house and telling children that they can choose whether to smoke pot when they’re older is their prerogative. So just for good measure let me add…

Studies on the effects of cigarette smoking have shown that:

parental actions, attitudes, and opinions about smoking have a great deal of influence on whether or not kids smoke. A recent study found that parental anti-smoking actions such as having restrictions about smoking in the home in place or sitting in non-smoking sections of restaurants are associated with reductions in children’s smoking.

Just poking a few holes in the crock pot.

Mixed Bag O’ Messages from our recent pot stories:

(1) First odd message: With regard to the pot book- Pot is good and good for many people—many powerful and interesting people do it– but can’t have it. Ha, ha! Yes, that message works well with children, don’t you think?

(2) Second odd message: Pot brownies in Texas carry a much more strict punishment protocol than in Ohio. What’s the protocol elsewhere?

(3) Third odd message: From our first pot brownie story in Texas; pot brownies are bad because they’re not conducive to good learning. Yes, that’s the real problem here.

(4) Fourth odd message: While smoking in the house is linked with children smoking at a young age, smoking a joint in the house can’t possibly do the same thing. Where would we get such strange idea? Oh yes, research. Years and years of smoking research.

Now, as far as the little pot book that can is concerned, you may just chalk it up to freedom of speech. But can you? Let’s throw another story at you that might say that freedom of speech may not be tolerated…

High Schoolers Booted from Prom and Graduation due to Prank T-Shirt

Fifty students from a high school in Michigan were suspended for wearing t-shirts that commemorate drinking and Michigan’s legal alcohol limit. The shirts read, “Puschin’ It To The Limit. Class Of .08 Seniors.”

The “School Spirit Week” prank, albeit incredibly foolish, went array when school officials suspended the students and took away prom and graduation privileges.

“We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to alcohol.”

Wearing shirts that shock during senior week is apparently a tradition at the school. Such decisive action was never taken in the past. Students were wondering why the new standard were enforced now.

Well, actually, it’s not. Whoops!

Students were kept from attending an honors ceremony on Thursday but their rights to attend prom and graduation may be reversed if they maintain “good behavior” and complete an essay on underage drinking.

One parent was quoted as saying:

Dawn Lewis, 47, said she discussed Archibald’s e-mail with her 11th-grade daughter. Lewis said it would have been more reasonable to punish the person who was behind the shirts, rather than penalize nearly 10 percent of the senior class. “They’re kids. What are you going to do?” Lewis said.

Mixed bag O’ Messages?

(1) First odd message: Empty threats (withholding prom and graduation privileges and then not following through) work well with teens. Very well done, Principal Archibald.

(2) Second odd message: If your child does something stupid, blame the person who came up with the idea, not anyone else. Perhaps an interesting proposition for those who are dealing with the girls who were beating up their victim on YouTube?

(3) Third odd message: Someone can write a children’s book touting the many benefits of smoking pot (an illegal activity) and call it “free speech” but teens wearing t-shirts that celebrate drinking (an illegal activity for teens) get expelled. Mind you, I’m not advocating for those ridiculous t-shirts, am against teen drinking and I don’t drink myself, but you have to admit the message is warped if you think about it from the teen perspective.

Perhaps you can imagine why my mind is swimming. It’s hard for children and teens to understand that drugs are bad and good at the same time and punishable harshly in some places but not in others—and illegal but parents and presidents are doing them. It’s confusing to tell children and teens that they have free speech depending on what it is they want to say, punish them, and then not follow through.

The next time we have children and teens doing dumb things, let’s take a look at the odd messages were sending. What part do adults have in creating this picture? And who should take responsibility?

Love to hear your thoughts.