How do you express your gratitude?

Since it’s appreciation month for Powerful Words, I’m always looking for great ways to express gratitude.  How do YOU express your gratitude? How do you foster it in your children?

We can express gratitude…
(1) Through a letter: Yesterday we talked about writing a letter to the teacher telling him or her all the ways s/he has helped you or your child.  By writing a letter, you put longevity into words that allows the recipient to read and reread your appreciative statements.  Tell them all the ways you are thankful. What a wonderful gift!

(2) Through a gift: There are plenty of gifts you can give to someone to show your appreciation.  Whether it’s flowers, candy, homemade cookies, or simply something you saw that made you think of them, a little something can say a lot.  Especially when you make it yourself or the gift is personalized in some way for that person, you can really show you’ve been thinking of the other person and what s/he means to you.

(3) Through spending time: As we know, children spell “love” T-I-M-E.  Time together can show how much you appreciate someone else.  Especially when you do something that is meaningful to the other person– see a movie they’ve been wanting to see, or even going somewhere that you know they’d rather not go to alone (like the hospital, to visit someone they have mixed feelings about, etc), you are saying that that person is important to you and that you appreciate all they’ve done.

(4) Through a song, dance, or art: Some of us have a creative spirit.  Use it.  If you sing beautifully, play the piano, write songs, draw, or paint, you can use whatever medium you desire to show someone how much you appreciate them.  And no matter what kind of dancer you are, if you are grateful, you can show your gratitude through your movement.  Just check out the gratitude dancers above!

(5) Through your own words: Just say how you feel.  No  time like the present! We often let time pass without saying a thing.  If your husband is taking out the garbage and your wife has cooked your favorite meal, or your children cleaned their rooms without asking, make sure they know how much you appreciate it.  In many families around the world, other spouses and children might not be as considerate. Don’t let sleeping dogs lie–remind yourself to do it often– tell them today!

Tell us how you express your gratitude.  It’s a great time to let people know how much you care!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

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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

Showing Appreciation and Gratitude for Our Best Teachers

teacher and child working together

Which teachers, coaches, or instructors have inspired you?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

As you all know, the Powerful Word of the Month is Appreciation! All Powerful Words schools are currently gearing up for Teacher Appreciation Week. Of course! We’ve talked about gratitude and 10 great ways to say thank-you to teachers in the past and it’s that time again–Our teachers, coaches, and instructors deserve our gratitude.

Looking back, I still remember my favorite teachers who really made a difference in my life. I remember Mr. Orsini, my 9th grade English teacher, who helped me to believe in myself. When I raised my hand in English class (we were studying Shakespeare), he said “I know you know the answer to this one, Robyn, so I’m saving you for a hard question!” As you can see, I still remember when that happened because having a teacher believe that I was smart meant something to me. During adolescence it’s easy to doubt yourself—and I certainly did.

I also remember Mr. Hendrickson who gave me my very first 100% on a math test. I stunk in math—or at least I believe I did. But Mr. Hendrickson (who we all called “Hendi”) was around during free periods and after school to help the students who needed it. Yes, I needed it!!! He stopped me in the hallway and said, “You did it! You got a 100%!” In all my doubtful adolescence I asked, “are you sure?” And he said, “I’m sure. And I DON’T need to check it again!” It made a difference to me that he was excited for me and that he shared in the achievement because he was there to help.

Finally, I remember Dr. Carlin from Washington University. She was more than a professor—she was like a Mom away from home for me. She taught me how to do research but she also taught me to be bold and ask for what I want. On days when I just needed a home environment, I would stay over at her house with her and her husband and 2 dogs. We would sit on the back deck eating French toast and drinking coffee in our pajamas and terry cloth robes and talk about what was going on in our lives. We were like family. She taught me that a teacher can be more than just a person in a classroom—a teacher can inspire, nurture, and motivate.

There are countless others. Do you have any teachers who made a difference in your life? Tell us about them! We know there are MANY at your Powerful Words Member Schools!

My hope is that I have a bit of each of these teachers lessons inside of me now and use them with my own coaching clients and Powerful Words family members—and of course, with all of our Powerful Families. We thank you all for being a part of our lives.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Got Gratitude? Use Your Own Personal Appreciation Widget

happy_family

What is Your Gratitude Widget?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

All our Powerful Words Member Schools are focusing on Appreciation this Month. How can Powerful Parents continue the lessons of appreciation that the children are learning at their PW schools at home?

We all need reminders to keep us on track, on task, and aware of what propels us forward or pushes us back. This is especially true when it comes to appreciation and gratitude.  Many of us tend to think negatively so we need reminders to tell us to turn it around and think positively. This is where structures of your own personal “widget” comes into play.

As a success coach, I talk to my clients about using structures often. A structure is a something that serves to remind yourself or your children to do something. In this case, I’m talking about taking time to be grateful and to show gratitude. It can be as old school as tying a string around your finger or as new school as setting your blackberry to go off everyday to remind you to do it. There are millions of structures from vision boards to pictures, to a stop watch or a cabbage patch doll. It’s your diary or plan book or the large quote written above your computer— “look on the positive side!” the fortune cookie insert on your night table “Those who are grateful have sweet dreams” or the magnet on your refrigerator “Got Gratitude?” Whatever works for that person is something that can be used.

I have a gratitude stone on my night stand that reminds me to think of the things and people I’m grateful for before I close my eyes at night.  We need more gratitude in our lives– and I do believe my dreams are sweeter because I think of who and what I appreciate as my last thoughts of the night.  What do you think about? Your to-do list? Who angered you that day? The holiday coming up?  Getting stressed out before bed doesn’t help anyone.  As parents we have to both be an example to our children and teach them directly how to think about the good stuff in our lives instead of dwelling on the negative.

What is your appreciation widget?  If you don’t have one this month is the time to get one!  After all, it’s appreciation month at all Powerful Words Member Schools! Let’s show the children what being appreciative is all about so that they too will embody the Powerful Word and share with us what they are grateful for this year! Make a list and share it with the family.  Write a thank-you note or give a thank-you gift. Start today!

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dr. Robyn Silverman introduces the April Word of the Month: Appreciation

The Powerful Word of the Month is Appreciation! All Powerful Words Member Schools will be teaching the children how to show more appreciation this month at home, at school, in the community, and in their after-school programs.  Studies show that children and teens who show more appreciation and gratitude tend to be happier, healthier, and more successful. That means this is an important and powerful month indeed!

Appreciation Quotes

The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” –Dalai Lama

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”–Voltaire

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” –Buddha

There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” –Mother Theresa

“Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.” –Margaret Cousins

“Appreciation allows a group of many to share in the success of one. It’s only right. After all, no one gets to the top without the help of others.” –Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” –Albert Schweitzer

I would rather be able to appreciate things I can not have than to have things I am not able to appreciate.” –Elbert Hubbard

Thanksgetting???

thanksgiving and grumpy ungrateful child

Thanksgetting?

By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

What ever happened to the “Thanks” part of Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorite holidays. In fact, it is a family favorite—one that is filled with savory and sweet smells, warmth, and comfortable conversation with loved ones and friends. I just adore it.

On the flip side, Thanksgiving is also the beginning of the biggest commercial season of the year. Think of the sales! The holiday music! The must-have toys of the season! Corporations vie for your attention and of course, the attention of your children.

Believe it or not, it is estimated that advertisers spend more than $12 billon per year on advertising messages aimed at your children. More than half of the toy industry’s annual $30 billion in sales happen during the weeks leading up to the holiday season. Therefore it is not surprising that the average child watches more than 40,000 television commercials per year—and over 100 commercials per day. No doubt that some of the most influential commercials present themselves in November and December since American families are primed to react and spend.

How can we save Thanksgiving from simply being reduced to “the day before the best shopping day of the year?”

thanksgiving table and thanksgiving food

Seven years ago, in the wake of September 11th, we remembered what Thanksgiving was really about—giving thanks for our family, our friends, and our freedom. We can’t let a tragedy be the only stimulus that reminds us to cherish what we have, instead of what materials goods we want. So perhaps instead of letting this holiday just be about a big dinner, special desserts, and a few days off from the typical routine, let’s use it as a chance to let the kids know that there are reasons to celebrate and give thanks.

Here are some ways to get away from need and greed and to bring gratitude and graciousness to the forefront.

(1) Discuss the real meaning of Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season: Since Thanksgiving, in many American households, has been reduced simply to “Turkey day,” it is not surprising that the “thanks” part of Thanksgiving has been buried under the proverbial pile of mashed potatoes. Talk to your children about what these holidays really mean to you and ask your children what they mean to them. If they simply remark, “presents!” or “cupcakes!” you know that you have some work to do. It may take some patience, but this is the time to start a new tradition of gratitude. Break out the family bucket list! Talk about what your grateful for this year! In the war against the “gimme-gimme ghouls” of Thanksgiving past, present, and future, this is the time to change your family lexicon and behavior around the holidays.

(2) Help your child understand the power of the media: It is amazing. It doesn’t seem to matter whether we are 4 or 44 years old, commercials have a profound effect on our brains. Your child may want the latest “Laugh with Me Laura Doll” just as much as you want the newest digital camera or Plasma TV. While adults have more of an abstract understanding of how media influences our interests and wants, children are more concrete and lack the cognitive capabilities to understand the power of persuasion. They see it, they want it, they have to have it, and you have to give it to them. Talk to your children about how it is the job of the media to make toys look a certain way to con children into buying. Children don’t like to be conned. Let them know about the money, techniques, and “magic tricks” advertisers use to make us feel a certain way about a product.

(3) Seek out activities that build character: It is important in the face of commercialism, to take time to do activities that take no money at all. Discuss your family values and then brainstorm ways to foster them. Bring your Powerful Words into your Table Time Talk. Perhaps you can make it a tradition to do charity work, plant a tree, go hiking as a family, or rediscover old toys in the back of the closet that some other children could use in the coming year. If you do not have the time to do such activities with your children, do not fret. Seek out a family friend, relative or even an activity such as martial arts, gymnastics, or scouts that has a character education program in place to help bring out the personal best in your children. The aim is to help children realize that Thanksgiving, inherent in its name, is not about getting, but giving.

(4) Talk to your children about making gifts instead of buying them: I know it’s not gift-giving season yet. But if you do not want children to wait to the last minute to think about gift giving, talk to them about the power of the homemade gift early. Break out the crayons and crafts and encourage your children to be creative. In addition, now that we are in the tech-savvy world of computers and your children are likely to be pros at operating one, making cards, scrapbooks, audio recordings, or family videos could be priceless. I believe it was in the year 2000 that I video-taped my grandmother talking about our family history, what it was like to grow up in the 1920s, and how she felt about our family. She past away in 2004. The video recording is one of my family’s most precious possessions and it didn’t cost one red cent. Children can also make “Powerful Promissory notes” for gifts—promising to wash the car, clean the garage, baby sit, make breakfast, or do some other elected family chore that would help others.

(5) Remember to give thanks: Who would you like to thank? Teachers? Coaches? Family? Friends? Turn off the cell phone, unplug the TV, and get back to the basics. Discuss the things for which you are grateful—those irreplaceable, precious things that are near and dear to your heart. Model the ability to be thankful and call attention to how giving thanks makes people feel (both the giver and the receiver!). Instead of simply giving thanks before the sweet potato pie is being served, declare November and December “Thanksgiving months.” Why not? Once per day, each member of the family, whether you’re a single parent family or duel-parent family, can say why they are thankful. Sometimes it is helpful to do this at a specific time each day like before a meal is served or before bedtime. Some families find it helpful to use a reminder symbol to encourage giving thanks—like placing a “gratitude rock” in their pocket or placing a “gratitude bear” by the bedside. Any way you do it, you will be surprised about how it changes the climate of the family.

thanksgiving family and thanksgiving holiday

In the end, children take their cues from you. The media might be powerful but it can be dwarfed by the power of a parent who shows, tells, and exudes a thankful spirit for the precious gifts that could never be bought at any sale the day after Thanksgiving.

Dr. Robyn Silverman signs

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman Child Development Expert

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman’s programs and services are used worldwide to help children, teens, and adults reach their potential. She is also a success coach for parents, adolescents, and educators, who are looking to achieve their goals, improve their lives or improve the lives of others. She is currently getting ready to run 2 tele-coaching groups for adults who ready to set and achieve specific goals in 2009. Contact Dr. Robyn to reserve your spot.  Spaces are limited to 12-15 people per group for maximum productivity. Apply now. Serious inquiries only.

6 Fun Ways to Use Pictures to Say Thank You to Teachers

The articles on how to write thank you cards to teachers , saying thank you in different languages , and 10 great ways to appreciate teachers beat out my Miley Cyrus article series (finally!) so I figured parents are really looking for more information on this topic. I’m so glad. Showing gratitude to teachers and thanking them for their hard work is so important. And, as you all know, gratitude is one of recent Powerful Words, and one that is typically a favorite among teachers and families.

Everyone loves pictures these days. They’re so easy to take, so inexpensive, and yet, so precious. Using pictures are a great way to thank teachers for all that they do.

Here are some ideas that you can do as a group:

  1. Pictures, admiration, and the spa: Take a picture that you have of the teacher and get ready to do a little photo shopping. Fold 2 pieces of card stock together so that it makes a “book.” Put the full picture on the front cover and write “why I love my teacher” on the front. Crop out her face/head and paste it on the first page. Say something like; “I love that you’re always smiling and make me feel special.” On the next page, cut out her hands and say something like; “I love that your hands help shape the future.” On the next page, crop out her feet and write something like; “I love that you choose to stand in front of the class and teach us everyday.” And on the last page say something like; “For your happy face, your important hands, and your tired feet, please have fun getting a facial, manicure and pedicure! (Insert gift certificate.
  2. Photos, the class, and a Scrapbook: This takes some planning but certainly is worth it. Write a letter and send it out to each class mate that says; “we would like to make a special scrapbook for the teacher.” Please write something special and either give it to _______, send it to _________, or email it to _________. You can provide some questions like “what do you like so much about the teacher?” “What is your favorite memory about the teacher?” Take all of the letters and put them in the book. When I’ve done something like this before (the best present ever!), I had everyone email the letters to me and then I was able to print them out on nice, fun scrapbook paper with beautiful fonts, and place them in the book. I added pictures of everyone and a beautiful picture of the honoree on the front.
  3. Spell it out: We talked about this one the other day. According to Scholastic, have your students work in teams of two or three to make letters with their bodies that spell “THANK YOU SO MUCH.” If you have fewer students, you can just make the words “THANK YOU” instead. To put the card together, I took pictures of the students forming each letter with a digital camera. I then inserted the pictures into a blank poster in Print Shop and used the freehand crop tool to cut around their bodies. (This makes them look more like the letters they are trying to form.) Once I have all of the letters cropped, I arrange them on the Print Shop poster and print copies for each parent volunteer. I paste the printed copies on a construction paper card and have the students sign their names inside the card.”
  4. Blow it up: Take a picture of the teacher and blow it up. Mount it on a big piece of card stock. Have each child write a message around the picture that talks about what they appreciate most about their teacher. It could be as simple as, “she reads good books to us,” or it could be a more detailed message.
  5. A Photo, a t-shirt, and class posterity: This idea comes from Family Fun. On the front of the t-shirt, put your child’s class picture and the school year, and on the back, write all of the student names. On the last day, have the students put their handprint above their names with the colored dye for clothes. Variation: Purchase a dark t-shirt and get the children to put their handprint on it in neon paint. (Parents can do this project on a day that we knew the teacher would not be there—after the handprints dry, add the children’s names).
  6. Moving pictures: Put together a video collage of pictures from the school year with a beautiful song in the background or even a song that the children can sing. Variation: Have each child say what they like best about the teacher, why that teacher is a favorite, what they’ll always remember, and “thank-you!” Put the video together showcases all the best answers to the questions, making sure each child is represented. At the end, flash one child after other saying “thank you.” Again, you can use music or the children singing thank you or good-bye songs in the background.

Send in your ideas about how you are thanking teachers, coaches, and instructors this year!

Teachers, Coaches, Instructors…we appreciate you! Have a Powerful Day!