The Laziest Thing I’ve Ever Seen

Dr. Robyn's Dog, Casey, in favor of occasional laziness

Dr. Robyn's dog, Casey, in favor of occasional laziness

How Lazy Can you Be?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Yesterday, I saw one of the laziest scenes I’ve ever seen. While out walking down the street with my dog, Casey, I saw one of my fully-able neighbors “walking” her dog too…except she was in her car…with the leash hanging out the window…so her dog could walk and she could…ride.

,,,and they say that having a dog makes people less lazy!

Is Laziness due to genetics? Modern Conveniences? “Poor Physique?”

J. Timothy Lightfoot recently published an article out of the University of North Carolina suggesting that some people might actually have a laziness gene which predisposes them to being slothlike. Others simply say that all the internet tools and modern conveniences are what make them lazier.  (If there’s any question of who’s the most lazy the UN’s International Labor Organization says American’s are among the laziest when they compare the proportion of American workers who put in more than 48 hours per week with other workers from around the world.) I even came across an article in the New York Times from 1910 entitled “Why Some Children Are Lazy” that said in plain terms that lack of determination and high levels of laziness are simply the result of “poor physique.”

So…what do you think? Are we getting lazier? Why? Genetics? Poor physique? The Internet? Modern Conveniences ? Poor diet ? Too much help ? Need for more in-school or after-school activity?

And after the shock of watching my neighbor “walk” her dog while she drove her car down the side street—I have to ask—WHAT’S THE LAZIEST THING YOU’VE EVER SEEN???

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7 attributes children learn from Olympians

Sandi Stevens McGee and Dr. Robyn Silverman

copyright: Sandi Stevens McGee and Dr. Robyn Silverman

What does it take to become an Olympian in life?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

New York Times

New York Times

Shawn Johnson sticks the perfect landing. Nastia Liukin falls flat on her back and gets back up. Michael Phelps wins another gold medal.

No matter what event you like, it’s difficult to watch the Olympics and not feel inspired. I can’t help myself—I have to stand up, my palms get sweaty, and I find myself shouting “go, go, go!” and “you can do it!” at the TV.

Children can learn a great deal from our Olympians. They’re not just role models; they are character in action. They take all of the Powerful Words that we learn and make use of them in their daily lives.

Here are just a few questions you can pose to your children:

  1. Perseverance: How do your child’s favorite athletes show perseverance in every part of competition and every practice? How can your children show the same kind of perseverance in their own lives?
  2. Discipline: What kind of discipline does it take to achieve a goal like being a member of the Olympic team? Where do you show discipline in your life?
  3. Responsibility: What do you think are the responsibilities of an Olympic hopeful? What kinds of responsibilities must you meet on your quest to be your best?
  4. Determination: Why do you think being determined is so important on our quest to reach our goals? When have you felt determined? What goals have you achieved by being determined?
  5. Indomitable Spirit: Which athletes kept going with all their effort even when they weren’t “the favorite” or even when they were behind? How did that indomitable spirit pay off? When have you showed indomitable spirit in the face of challenge?
  6. Respect: How do you see the Olympians showing respect for themselves and their fellow athletes? How do they show respect and sportsmanship for the judges and their fans? How do you show respect to others each day?
  7. Courage: How do you think these athletes developed the courage to compete on the highest level? How do you think they stayed courageous even when they failed or fell? When do you show that kind of courage and how can you show even more?

The Olympics can be a great stepping stone to talk about your family’s values and well as what it takes to be the best in any area of interest. This is a great time to talk about some amazing athletes and how your children can integrate what they see on their quest to become Olympians in life.

(Over)Protective Parents: Helpful or Harmful?

Are Some Parents Too Overprotective? What do you think?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

My mom and I were speaking on the phone yesterday about a recent New York Times article on overprotective “helicopter parents,” their children and overnight camps. Did you see it?

Parents are “bombarding the camp with calls: one wanted help arranging private guitar lessons for her daughter, another did not like the sound of her child’s voice during a recent conversation, and a third needed to know — preferably today — which of her daughter’s four varieties of vitamins had run out. All before lunch.

We were laughing about how times certainly have changed since we were all younger– when parents told us to get up, rub some dirt on it, and give it another go. My Mom and I were trying to remember if I ever called when I was away at camp– maybe once– but we’re not completely certain of that figure. Of course, we didn’t have cell phones, email, web cams, or texting when we were kids– but would we have used them if we did?

People have been throwing around the term “helicopter parents” for quite some time now to describe parents who are overprotective of their children to a fault. Some people hate the term and others believe it’s spot on. Mothers and fathers often cite that “times have changed” and more hand-holding is necessary, even though, by many accounts, children in the United States are safer than ever. So is our attempt to protect negatively affecting our children’s ability to be self-determined and independent? What do you think?

Who: Sociologists find that helicopter parents tend to be mothers and fathers of “Millennials,” children of baby boomers, born between the early 1980s and 2000.

They saw their youngsters as “special,” and they sheltered them. Parents outfitted their cars with Baby on Board stickers. They insisted their children wear bicycle helmets, knee pads and elbow guards. They scheduled children’s every hour with organized extracurricular activities. They led the PTA and developed best-friend-like relationships with their children…Today, they keep in constant touch with their offspring via e-mail and cell phones. And when their children go off to college, parents stay just as involved.

Where do we see it: It’s been reported that overprotective parents are noticed on sports fields, schools, colleges, after-school programs, and now, even overnight camps. As I mentioned above, an article in the New York Times reported that overprotective parents have seeped into the camp culture, a place where children’s distance from home was often equated with “growing up” and “standing on their own 2 feet.”

In fact, the camps are now employing full-time parent liaisons to counsel parents from 7am to 10pm via email and phone. This position has become absolutely necessary because camps feel that they need to cater to the increasing number of parents who:

make unsolicited bunk placement requests, flagrantly flout a camp’s ban on cellphones and junk food, and consider summer an ideal time to give their offspring a secret vacation from Ritalin.

While camps want to accommodate parents, they worry that their over-involvement is negating the point of camp—a place to learn how to solve problems and make decisions without parental involvement. ]

What’s going on? Many reasons have been cited as motivators of overprotective parents. Parents are overprotective for all different reasons. In some cases, parents perceive that when they do something for their child, it comes out better. In other cases, parents feel a need for control in a world that seems more unpredictable and scary that it was when they were younger. Some parents have a fear of failure and hate to see their children struggle while others have a fear that their children will succeed and no longer need them as much as they did at one time. Still others feel entitled to check in with or about their children at any given time or they feel empowered by living vicariously through their sons and daughters who are doing things that the parents might not have been able to do when they were younger.

Here’s the rub from several sides:

(1) A study shows…Parental involvement can be very helpful. Data from 24 colleges and universities gathered for the National Survey of Student Engagement show that students whose parents were very often in contact with them and frequently intervened on their behalf “reported higher levels of engagement and more frequent use of deep learning activities,” such as after-class discussions with professors, intensive writing exercises and independent research, than students with less-involved parents. “Compared with their counterparts, children of helicopter parents were more satisfied with every aspect of their college experience, gained more in such areas as writing and critical thinking, and were more likely to talk with faculty and peers about substantive topics,” said survey director George D. Kuh, an Indiana University professor.

(2) A mixed reaction… Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun as well as a mother of a 9 year old son, recently talked about allowing her son to ride the subway on his own. People voiced both dismay and encouragement and called her everything from neglectful to a breath of fresh air. She used the incident to create her own blog about kids and independence, called Free Range Kids. The idea behind the concept is to live responsibly (seat belts, helmets, airbags, etc.), but not to restrict your child’s actions out of fear.

(3) The negative side of over-protectiveness, including:

(a) Undermining children’s confidence in their own abilities to take care of themselves and get things done;

(b) Instilling fear of failure such that they are denied the chance to learn how to persevere while standing on their own 2 feet;

(c) Stunting growth and development—in fact, studies have shown that these children lack some of the knowledge to negotiate what they need, solve their own problems, stay safe, and interact in close quarters with others;

(d) Inability to launch because they’re unsure of their passion, their own direction, and what to do next, if it means doing it on their own;

(e) Taking more staff, teacher, and administrator resources that would be directed towards their children but instead, must be used to tend to parental needs and wants; and, ironically,

(f) Raising parental anxiety levelsresearch has shown that parents who consistently judge their own self worth by their children’s success report feeling more sad and having a more negative self image than parents who did not engage in this behavior.

So, what do you think? Are parents going too far to protect their children and teens or are they justified in doing so? Do you think the affects are more positive or negative? Why? This is a heated topic with many different opinions. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Please comment below!

Related:

Letters to their helicopter parents from their children: first of series

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)

Randy Pausch, known for his last lecture on following childhood dreams, dies

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor whose last lecture on following your childhood dreams became an Internet hit and bestselling book, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 47.

We spoke about Professor Pausch during gratitude month, as he reminds us to thank those teachers who push us to our potential and in the direction of our dreams. As shown in his last lecture, that was the kind of teacher Randy Pausch was. He was also all about exercising your determination:

“Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.”

–Randy Pausch

According to the New York Times:

Last September, Dr. Pausch unexpectedly stepped on an international stage when he addressed a crowd of about 400 faculty and students at Carnegie Mellon as part of the school’s “Last Lecture” series. In the talks, professors typically talk about issues that matter most to them. Dr. Pausch opened his talk with the news that he had terminal cancer and proceeded to deliver an uplifting, funny talk about his own childhood dreams and how to help his children and others achieve their own goals in life. He learned he had pancreatic cancer in September, 2006.

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.

Thank you, Professor Pausch, who certainly showed us a thing or two about determination. A Powerful Example, indeed, of what it means to go after your dreams.

With gratitude,

Children and Determination: What Research Tells Us

I’ve Got a No-Quit-Go-For-It Attitude! What Research Can Tell Us about Children and Determination

As you now know, the Powerful Word of the Month is Determination.

Wish your children showed more stick-to-itiveness and determination? Turns out, it’s a very important predictor to success. Researchers have suggested a strong link between enhanced self-determination skills and doing better in school and out of schools for students with and without disabilities. Here are the details:

  • Let them get involved: Allowing children to use their self determination skills and providing the opportunity for them to do so, can be enormously helpful in their academic outcomes. When students with disabilities get involved in planning, decision making, and implementation of their educational programs they tend to achieve better academic success than their peers who did not get involved and use these self-determination skills. Studies have also found positive results when students get involved or take a leadership role in determining their IEP (Individualized Education Programs) and transition goals.
  • Support their autonomy: Research shows that when we support the autonomy and independence of students within the classroom, students are more self-determined, motivated, and more apt to perceive themselves as competent. This, in turn, predicted the larger likelihood of students staying in school rather than dropping out.
  • Understand your parenting style: Parenting style can have an impact on children’s acquisition and development of self-determination skills. Parents who involve their children in more decision-making, were more likely to foster determination skills in their children. Interestingly, researchers have found that Caucasian parents were more likely to foster these self determination skills in their children as compared to Asian and African American parents. This may be due, in part, to cultural differences, expectations, and norms.
  • Determine if you’re Allowing your Child to Live Up to Their Own Potential: Parents with typically developing, non-special needs children, were more apt to foster determination skills in their children than parents of children with special needs. Specifically, parents of children with disabilities were less likely to involve them in household chores and interacting with salespeople, to allow them to make their own decisions, to teach goal setting and recognition of their weaknesses, and to involve them in making choices and decisions when dealing with unexpected and undesired behaviors. These parents also tended to exert more control in their children’s post-school career and living arrangements. These students wound up with less determination themselves.
  • Know what to teach: Parents can help support children’s self determination skill development by teaching certain skills at home and enrolling their children in programs that help to foster development in the following areas: Choice Making, Decision-Making, Problem-Solving, Independent Living, Risk-Taking, Safety Skills, Goal Setting & Attainment, Self observation, Evaluation, Reinforcement, Self instruction, Self understanding, Leadership, & Self Awareness. (We will be going over many of these skills at our Powerful Words Member Schools this month—and you can also reinforce these skills when out in the community!)

Looking forward to 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

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmpk69CFSGY]

Have a Powerful Month!