Making Friends: Teaching Kids (and Ourselves) About Real Friendship

Navigating new friendships can feel complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.  Whether you are 3, 13, 33 or 63, certain rules of friendship are constant.  Here are some things I teach my children and also, remind myself of to this day:

(1) Allow great friendships to happen organically: We may feel lonely. And we may want a group of supportive, wonderful friends that seem to be featured all over TV today. That doesn’t mean it happens instantaneously. Friendships happen over time.  Create opportunity to allow friendships to grow and thrive without forcing them to happen.  When we force friendships, everyone feels awkward and the opportunity for real friendship to form is diminished.

(2) Just because you’re friends with certain people, doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with someone else: There is a tendency for cliques to form in both childhood and adulthood.  Be careful you are not shutting out the opportunity to meet other great people outside of your proscribed group.  When we shut out such opportunities, we also diminish our own chance to grow and become better, more well-rounded people.

3) Gossip is an ugly habit: If you are finding that you and your friends drama-201x300have a habit of talking negatively about others, give it a rest.  Gossip creates drama.  And frankly, it’s just an ugly thing to do. There are too many other wonderful and interesting things to talk about besides other people. If your typical friends won’t stop gossiping, it may be time to go out with some other friends.

(4) Branch Out: Try meeting new people.  Join a new class, go outside your town, attend a meet-up or go someplace you haven’t been before.  Spend less time on Facebook and give people more Facetime in order to get to know others better. Ask someone new to join you for a playdate, cup of coffee, or a walk around the park.  When we branch out, we give new friendships a chance to grow.

(5) Nurture the friendships that feel mutually easy, refreshing & positive: Sometimes we overlook the friends we have in exchange for focusing on the ones we wish we had.  Think of those people who have always been consistent, strong friends. Make sure you carve out time to be with them and show them that their friendship is important to you.

(6) Get back to people: If people call, message or ask you to get together, give them the courtesy of an answer.   Even if you would prefer not to go out with them, have the character to be respectful of their time and their feelings.  Ignoring people is rude whether you are a child or an adult.  It feels horrible. The Golden Rule Applies—do unto others as you would have done to you.

(7) If you don’t feel good when you are around them, move on:  Friendship should feel good most of the time.  If you find that you don’t feel like yourself or feel unsure of yourself when you are with certain friends, either talk about it openly with them so you can address the problem or move on. True friends don’t want you to be anything other than what you are because they like the real you.

While some friendships might take work, most of the time, they should feel pretty easy, meaningful, fulfilling and fun. Friendship should make you feel like the best version of yourself. If you have at least one friendship that does that for you, count yourself very lucky.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Ask Dr. Robyn: Teaching Children Accountability and Responsibility

Dr. Robyn Silverman answers one parent’s question about how to teach her children to be responsible and accountable for their own messes and mistakes.

Question answered: Dear Dr. Robyn. My sister’s kids are always leaving a mess for her to clean up.  My kids are young and I just don’t want them to do the same thing.  How can I teach them to be responsible for their own messes and mistakes? Pam, New York, NY

The Day I Become a Mother at Whole Foods Market

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It was exactly 4 years ago this week that I received a call that changed my life.  I was in Whole Foods. Hingham, Massachusetts.  Frozen Foods section.

“Hello, Robyn? It’s your social worker, Carla.  Are you sitting down?”

I looked around at the walls of freezers and the cold linoleum floor.  “Ummm, not exactly.” I bit my lip. My stomach started doing flip flops. I knew this was it. “Let me head outside so I can really hear you.” I left my cart next to the frozen peas and spinach and high tailed it out of there. “OK. I’m outside.”

There was a pause of anticipation.  It felt like there should be some kind of drum roll.

“Congratulations, Mommy! You’ve been matched!”

“Oh my God.” I put my hand over my heart. My breath was stuck inside my lungs waiting to hear who had chosen us to parent her child.  But in actuality, I knew.

You see, I had been holding on to a single email with this potential birth mother’s name and information on it for a week since it came in to my inbox.  There was something about it that called to me—a deep knowing that she was growing our baby inside of her. In fact, it was the only “baby” email I printed out and took with me to Las Vegas where I spoke at a conference just a few days before. The email was still in the my purse as I stood there outside of Whole Foods market clutching my phone to my ear, closing my eyes and hoping that I wasn’t dreaming.

For four years I had waited for this moment.  We were pregnant.  Well, not me, exactly.  But we were having a baby. And I had learned the hard way that this was the most important thing.  We were making a family.

After getting all the information on next steps, I hung up the phone and exhaled the countless breaths that had been stuck inside my body for too long. Turning my face up to the sun I thanked God audibly.  My eyes were wet with grateful tears—an incredible change from the gut-wrenching cries I had thrown up after each miscarriage, misstep, and misleading test.

“What am I going to do now?” I wondered. Can I really go food shopping after this news? Gathering up frozen food items and fresh produce just didn’t seem worthy of this news. And I wasn’t going to tell Jason over the phone that he was going to be a Daddy.  No way.  This moment was too important!

But as you might imagine, I was bursting. So I went back inside Whole Foods and found my cart, headed over to the deli counter and did what any woman would have done in my situation.  I told the deli guy! Who called over the other people behind the counter, who called over some other people…and there were shouts of congratulations and some teary smiles. It was fabulous. It felt really, really good.

As I put my grocery bags in my car I smirked at the thought that I had gone into the store a wife and had come out a mother.  Not too many people can say that, huh? One of the best moments of my life started in the frozen foods section, moved outside their front door and made it’s first announcement at the Deli Counter of Whole Foods market in Hingham, Massachusetts. A shopping trip I will never forget.

What’s your story? Tell us here or on Facebook!

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Dr. Robyn on The Today Show: Vintage Ads Say Thin was Not Always In

These days, the word “fat” comes with a lot of baggage.  Studies tell us that fat is continually associated with unflattering words like lazy, ugly, blameworthy, gross, and unpopular.  But it wasn’t always that way.  If you look at some of the vintage ads, thin was definitely NOT always in.

vintage_weight1-222x300“Enjoy life!” “Put on 5 pounds of flesh!” “Left out because you’re too skinny?” Vintage ads paint the picture that full-figured women were the beauty standard of their era.

Over the last 100 years the celebrated standard of body beauty in advertising has morphed from one that was more voluptuous (signifying vitality, wealth, and happiness) to one that is thin (signifying, sometimes erroneously, health, perfection and self control). In the early part of the 20th century actresses and models demonstrated the voluptuous trend—prompting beauty products and subsequent advertising to address the desire to put ON weight. Things changed dramatically in the 60s with the introduction of Twiggy, in the 80s with the fitness craze (think Jane Fonda), the 90s with the introduction of the waif, and now, we still receive messages (and the studies reflect this), that to be thin is to be beautiful, sexy, controlled, successful and good. Beauty products and advertising has followed suit.

vintage_weight3-157x300These days it seems that people say the word “fat” like they are spitting it out on a plate.  This can be really confusing and upsetting for young girls who are going through puberty—a time when it’s very normal and natural to gain an average of 25 pounds! As a young girl or women is gaining weight, many look at it as “getting fat.” It’s common that people bemoan ‘I feel fat” or call themselves ugly names like “whale,,” “pig,” or “heifer.”

vintage_weight2-157x300What would it have been like to live at a time when people thought it was more beautiful to be buxom that thin? Or is the pressure the same whether it’s to be thin or to gain weight in order to fit in?

It seems like a lot more women would have fit the ideal standard if we weren’t told that we all needed to be impossibly thin to be considered attractive. But then, naturally thin women would have been left out to the definition of beauty.

At the end of the day, it still comes down to marketing. As long as there has been women’s beauty products and advertising, there have been (and there will be) messages that tell girls and women that they are not good enough, not beautiful enough, and not worthy enough unless they buy these products…and use them.

How do you think it would impact YOU and the women in your life if their was pressure to gain weight rather than lose it?

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Dr. Robyn Silverman introduces the Powerful Word Accountability

The powerful word of the month is accountability! Accountability is all about keeping our promises and commitments while also taking care of our mistakes.  It’s important to allow our children and teens to be accountable for themselves (while still being age appropriate) so that they learn (1) Making mistakes is not the end of the world; (2) When you make a “mess,” clean it up; (3) Ask for help when you need it; (4) healthy promises and commitments are something that should be kept; (5) Accountability is a crucial part of goal setting and goal getting as well as a vital part of being a good friend, student, employee, and family member.

While it may be tempting to jump in and “do it for them” when we see a child/teen challenged by a mistake s/he made (i.e. forgot his homework, lost a book) or a promise he no longer wants to keep (i.e. wants to quit a sport, doesn’t want to go to the birthday party she said she would attend), learning accountability at a young age is a great life lesson.

Children may need support or assistance at times but at others, we need to step back and allow them to take the lead.  Encourage them to tell the librarian that they lost a book and want to pay for it with their allowance.  Teach your children that once they make a commitment to a friend, it’s important that they keep that promise.  Show them that when they make a mistake, they need to admit it, apologize for it and help make it right. If they can learn this when stakes are low during childhood, they will be able to apply these life lessons to their life when stakes are higher during adulthood.

Enjoy this month’s Powerful Word! How are YOU teaching accountability in your home?

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The SNAKE that Poisons Everyone

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The original article hung on the kitchen cabinet of my childhood home for over 20 years– an important reminder to every member of our family of the power of gossip.

As bullying continues to make headlines, we know that gossip is a major component of bullying.  It ads fuel to the fire.  It is a vehicle to punish.  It excludes many while including a few– who is on either side can change on a dime.

My husband and I have often told the young people we mentor, if people will do it for you, they’ll do it to you.  In this case, if they are gossiping with you, they will likely gossip about you. While gossip can seem fun and frivolous to those who are doing it, it can feel quite painful to those who are discussed. Be careful of those who engage in this behavior as you might just be the one bitten next!

I think I learned that lesson the hard way as an elementary school student who used to tell secrets in order to try to connect and make friends.  Of course, this would backfire.  As you can imagine, I was glad I learned that lesson early!

Has the gossip snake bitten anyone in your home or your school? If you could hang this anywhere to remind someone to watch what they say, where would you hang it?

Feel free to print it out and share. I can still practically recite it verbatim as I read it more often throughout my childhood than I’ll ever know. Not a bad thing. I think my Mom was onto something…

drrobynsig170 The SNAKE that Poisons Everyone

 

The SNAKE that Poisons Everyone is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

The Revolution Reveal: 20 Day Swimsuit Challenge

It was so fun to be back on The Revolution for the 20 Day Swimsuit drtiff1-300x227 Challenge Reveal with Ryan-Ashley and Terry- newly confident and ready to show the world just how beautiful they are! Positive body image never looked so good!

How do you look great in a swimsuit this summer? Remember to be confident in yourself.  It’s not about diets and bashing your body– it’s about loving yourself and embracing your curves.  Yes, we always want to make healthy choices for ourselves AND part of being healthy is reminding your brain that you are beautiful and worthy just the way you are. Banish the body bully within that tries to tell you a different story.

drrobynsig170 The Revolution Reveal: 20 Day Swimsuit Challenge

The Revolution Reveal: 20 Day Swimsuit Challenge is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

From Princess to Trucker: How Girls Can Color Inside & Outside the Gender Lines

splitscreen-300x214My daughter loves to twirl around in a tutu.  She loves to play “trucks” and “doctor.” She pretends to be a fairy princess and a dinosaur. She climbs.  She runs. She kicks. She investigates bugs and touches worms. She plays with dolls, gets elbow deep in water play at the sink and digs in the sand at the playground. Oh, and she gets dirty.  Boy, can she do that well. She loves it all.

My husband and I have chosen to let her find her own way when it comes to her passions and her preferences.   We expose her to all different kinds of experiences and watch what she enjoys.  We don’t pigeon hole or steer clear of anything because it’s too “girly” or too “boyish.” I don’t really care what the labels are.  She is who she is and I love it.

Last Saturday she dressed up as a princess for her good friend’s “royal” dance party.  Pearls, a tiara, a fancy pink dress with a tutu attached.  She was in her glory.

On Sunday we took her to “Touch-A-Truck” where she could get in real tractors, cranes, buses, ambulances and back hoes and work the levers, pull the horn, push the buttons, and open and close the doors.  Again, she was in her glory. She is free to float up and down the preset gender continuum and it’s a beautiful thing.

If we are to help our daughters and our sons truly become all that they can be, they can’t be boxed in, pushed down and told to remain strong-footed on one side or the other of some prefabricated line. As parents and teachers, it is up to us to open our children up to the whole world rather than closing them off to a part that might make them truly feel at home.

For us, we feel that if our daughter is to become the person she was meant to be on this planet, we can’t limit her. Keeping safety and character in tact, we simply don’t keep her from experiencing, exploring and experimenting.  I want her to keep all 5 senses open and sharp so she can discover…herself.

No boxes, no ceilings, no lines. Just her. In her glory.

drrobynsig170

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From Princess to Trucker: How Girls Can Color Inside & Outside the Gender Lines is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

From Princess to Trucker: How Our Children Can Color Inside & Outside the Gender Lines

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Tallie; on Saturday as a princess and on Sunday as a trucker!

My daughter loves to twirl around in a tutu.  She loves to play “trucks” and “doctor.” She pretends to be a fairy princess and a dinosaur. She climbs.  She runs. She kicks. She investigates bugs and touches worms. She plays with dolls, gets elbow deep in water play at the sink and digs in the sand at the playground. Oh, and she gets dirty.  Boy, can she do that well. She loves it all.

My husband and I have chosen to let her find her own way when it comes to her passions and her preferences.   We expose her to all different kinds of experiences and watch what she enjoys.  We don’t pigeon hole or steer clear of anything because it’s too “girly” or too “boyish.” I don’t really care what the labels are.  She is who she is and I love it.

Last Saturday she dressed up as a princess for her good friend’s “royal” dance party.  Pearls, a tiara, a fancy pink dress with a tutu attached.  She was in her glory.

On Sunday we took her to “Touch-A-Truck” where she could get in real tractors, cranes, buses, ambulances and back hoes and work the levers, pull the horn, push the buttons, and open and close the doors.  Again, she was in her glory. She is free to float up and down the preset gender continuum and it’s a beautiful thing.

If we are to help our daughters and our sons truly become all that they can be, they can’t be boxed in, pushed down and told to remain strong-footed on one side or the other of some prefabricated line. As parents and teachers, it is up to us to open our children up to the whole world rather than closing them off to a part that might make them truly feel at home.

For us, we feel that if our daughter is to become the person she was meant to be on this planet, we can’t limit her. Keeping safety and character in tact, we simply don’t keep her from experiencing, exploring and experimenting.  I want her to keep all 5 senses open and sharp so she can discover…herself.

No boxes, no ceilings, no lines. Just her. In her glory.

drrobynsig170

 

We’re talking about this on Facebook! Join us!

From Princess to Trucker: How Our Children Can Color Inside & Outside the Gender Lines is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System

Time Magazine’s Cover Promotes More Competition in Moms: Are YOU Mom Enough?

time_breastfeeding1-225x300I’m not going to belabor the point.  I do, however, feel it important for me to address the underlying message women–mothers– get when looking at the May 2012 Time Magazine cover featuring 26 year old Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her three year old son, Aram.

There are so many messages out there pitting one mom against the other.  Who works, who stays home. Who is class mother and who writes the check for more school supplies. Who is soccer mom and who can attend a game only from time to time.

Someone always loses out.

In this cover article, it’s not the breastfeeding component that strikes me.  it’s the title. Are you Mom enough?  What’s implied is that some are and some aren’t.  And of course, the self-critical voice inside your head has to ask; where do I fall?

I don’t like it. How many more times do we need to bash ourselves as Moms? Who’s thinner? Who’s prettier? Who’s more popular with the in-crowd in town? Come on. Parenting is hard enough.

How do you feel about it? I have to wonder if I’m the only one who was frustrated about the secondary implications of this article…

Time Magazine’s Cover Promotes More Competition in Moms: Are YOU Mom Enough?is a post from: Dr. Robyn Silverman – Child Development Specialist, Body Image Expert, Success Coach & the Creator of the Powerful Words Character Development System