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Ask Dr. Robyn: How Can I Help My Child Show More Courage?

silverman_headshotCourage is the Powerful Word of the Month! How do we encourage our children to try new things? Meet new people? Stand up for what they believe in?  Dr. Robyn Silverman, child and teen development specialist, answers one reader’s question about developing courage in her child. Several tips are provided– which ones resonate with you?

 

 

What will you try with your children this month? How have you helped your children to show more courage?  Please share here or on our Facebook page— We’d love to hear from you!

Dr. Robyn introduces the Powerful Word of the Month: Courage!

Happy March! The powerful word of the month is courage! Let’s help our children (and ourselves) face fears and challenges with determination.

Courage Quotes:

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” –John Maxwell

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” –Mary Anne Radmacher

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” –Winston Churchill

“Clear thinking requires courage rather than intelligence.”–Thomas S. Szasz

“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.”–Charles Dubois

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.”–Soren Kierkegaard

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt

“The rewards doesn’t necessarily go to the biggest, the brightest or the best.  It goes to the one who has the courage to keep trying until success is inevitably achieved.” — Dr. Robyn Silverman

“If we’re growing, we’re always going to be out of our comfort zone.” — John Maxwell

Wishing you a powerful month of trying new things, meeting new people, and courageously standing up for what you know is right and fair.

drrobynsig170

February 29th: Teaching Children about Leap Year

Teaching Children about Leap Year 2012

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

leapyearleap-222x300Are the children asking you about leap year? I know, as a parent, I get pelted with questions about just about everything! If you want to be ready– here are some answers to frequently asked questions about leap year:

Leap Year Defined: What is a leap year?

A leap year is a year in which February is longer than it typically is in a non-leap year year. In a leap year, February has 29 days in it instead of 28 days.

Why do we need a leap year?

In order to align the Earth’s rotation around the sun with our seasons, leap year was started. Even though we acknowledge that a year has 365 days in it– that statistic isn’t completely accurate. Actually, it takes approximately 365.2422 days for the earth to travel around the sun in one year. So, in order to get “lined up,” we give one extra day to the calendar every 4 years to account for the additional time the earth takes to travel around the sun.

When is Leap Year?

This year, 2012, is a Leap Year. Leap year occurs every 4 years (believe it or not, with some exceptions every few hundred years). It’s celebrated on February 29th– a day that only occurs in a Leap Year.

Trivia question: How long is 365.2444 days?

Answer: 365 days 5 hours 48 minutes 46 seconds

How do you calculate a Leap Year?

According to the Gregorian calendar, there are 3 rules used to determine if a year is leap year or not a leap year.

  • Rule 1: Leap year is divisible by 4
  • Rule 2: Exception to Rule 1, any year divisible by 100 such as 1900 or 1800 is not a leap year
  • Rule 3: Exception to Rule 2, any year divisible by 400 is a leap year such as 2000

Were you born in a leap year?

2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, 1996, 1992, 1988, 1984, 1980, 1976, 1972, 1968, 1964, 1960, 1956, 1952, 1948, 1944, 1940, 1936, 1932, 1928, 1924, 1920, 1916, 1912

Fun for the Kids:

How many leap years old am I? (For someone who is 40 this year they are 11 leap years old.)

How many leap years old is Grandma/Grandpa/Mom/Dad?

How many leap years old is my school?

Did you know? Leap Year Traditions

In Ireland, every February 29th, women were allowed to ask for a man in marriage. A man was fined if he refused the proposal.

Leap Year has been the traditional time that women can propose marriage. In many of today’s cultures, it is okay for a woman to propose marriage to a man. Society doesn’t look down on such women. However, that hasn’t always been the case. When the rules of courtship were stricter, women were only allowed to pop the question on one day every four years. That day was February 29th.” Read more about it.

Leap Year Activities for Kids

frogpuppetFrog origami

Making a leap year frog out of a paper plate

Pin the Crown on the Frog Prince

Musical Lilly Pads

Frog CupCakes

Frog Hunt and other Frog Games

Make a Frog Bean Bag

Paper Frog Puppet alternative

How to celebrate leap year:

It is rare that we get an extra day out of life.  Celebrate it by:

  • Making it a day when you show gratitude for your family, your friends, and other things in life.
  • Taking a courageous leap to do something different or try something new.
  • Reiterating a goal that you made in January as part of your New Year’s Resolution.
  • Play leap frog or do a special leap year craft with your kids!

Have a powerful Leap Year Day!

drrobynsig170

Completing Any Goal: From Tripped-Up to Triumphant

eye_clock-300x300It’s February.  Only a month and a half ago many of us set goals and made New Year’s Resolutions.  How’s that working out for you? Are you making strides or are you…stuck?

It’s OK. Many of us get tripped up on the path to triumph. You’re at a critical point at this moment though– you can choose to throw in the towel or push through. When you have trouble imagining how you’ll ever achieve your goal (whether it’s writing a book, completing a dissertation, moving up a level, enrolling more people, or making headway on a project, etc) it’s time to stop and go through a visioning process.

When I work with clients one-on-one or in groups, I take them through several visioning exercises.  One that I often begin with has 5 steps:

(1)  See it: Close your eyes.  Look at your goal square in the face.  What does it look like when it’s finished?  When you look around, who do you see?  Where do you picture yourself?  Get specific.  I often encourage my clients to put together a vision board that keeps these pictures in the forefront of their minds.  What images remind you of your goal?  What lies beyond once that goal is achieved?

(2)  Sense it: This may take some practice– especially if you are filled with stress and angst right now.  What will it feel like to achieve your goal?  What do you hear around you?  What does victory taste like and smell like?  The more visceral you can make your goal, the more driven you will be to achieve it.

(3)  Say it:  We are often caught using the future tense when talking about the completion of a goal.  “I will finish it” might sound good to you but it doesn’t put you in action.  In fact, that kind of language can invite procrastination.  Who says when the “I will” will actually take place?  When speaking to about your goal, say it as if it is happening right now; “I am completing my ________ by April 1,” “I own my own home in December 2012,”  “I have straight As on my report card,” or “I am a graduate of XYZ University by June.”

(4)  Believe it: Sometimes we feel as if we are lying to ourselves.  Do I really think I’ll finish?  That kind of goal-robbing gremlin needs to be put to rest.  If you don’t really believe that you’ll be able to succeed, you probably won’t.  When you have unwavering commitment and conviction in your goal, nothing can stop you.  Be sure to put any voices of doubt to bed so that you can concentrate on taking action and making things happen.

(5)  Achieve it: This is an active process.  Achieving your goal means following your plan, ticking off your check list, and moving forward.  Are you closer to your goal than you were yesterday?  If so, you are in the process of achieving your goal.  And of course, once you check off the last item on your list, the final part of achieving your goal is celebrating your success!

Where are you in the visioning process?  Have you set your goals and intentions?  Have you created your plan?  Once you established where you’re going, the path is clear.  Now all you have to do is follow it!

drrobynsig170

Walmart Kidnapping: How can I keep my child safe from unkind strangers?

brittneybaxterMy Facebook page is hopping today after I posted about the little girl, Brittney Baxter, age 7, who fought her way out of getting kidnapped from Walmart yesterday, when a man grabbed her, covered her mouth and tried to subdue her.  The girl is safe and the alleged kidnapper in custody, but these stories of attempted child abduction always leave a trail of fear, frustration, concern, and questions from parents and educators.

Several parents and concerned citizens have gotten in touch because they are unsure about how they can protect the children in their lives from a similar situation. I wanted to reach out to you to provide some tips.  Please feel free to pass it on and repost the link as this is an issue on many people’s minds today.

In terms of “stranger danger,” what are we supposed to tell our young kids?

(1) People are mostly kind…but some aren’t:  For the most part, people are good, kind and helpful.  But not everyone. “Most people are very kind. When we go to the store, there are many kind people who are there to help you, right? Most people want everyone to be safe and happy. But some people are not kind.  Some people do not make safe and kind choices. We don’t always know who the kind and unkind people are because there are no superhero or villain masks in real life.”

(2) Stay by the person who brought you:  Your school age children should be told to stay by you or the person who brought them.  “When we go out, please stay where I can see you and you can see me.  Please don’t wander into the next aisle alone because I won’t be able to see you.  Wandering off is an unsafe choice.  Staying by me is a safe choice.”

(3) State what you want in the positive as well as in the negative: Wedon’t want to just say “don’t wander off” or “don’t leave the store” but also “please stay where I can see you” and “stay in the store.” Children respond well with what “to do” rather than just telling them what not to do.

(4) Yell as loud as you can: This is not the time for inside voices.  “If someone grabs you, yell: “This is not my mom/dad! This is not my mom/dad! Help me! This is not my Mom/Dad!”  Make sure they understand that they should not just yell “no” or “leave me alone” because some patrons might simply think that your child is throwing a tantrum with his parent.

(5) Get physical: We always tell our children to keep their hands to themselves.  In this “stranger danger” situation, they need permission to get physical. That means kicking, hitting, biting, or whatever they need to do to stay safe.  Tell your child to move their legs like they are riding a bicycle as this makes them hard to hold. If someone puts their hand over their mouth, continue to kick—and bite the person’s hand.

(6) Stay aware: It’s easy to get distracted by the toys and games in a big store.  Brittney was looking at toys when the kidnapper tried to restrain her.  Being aware can give your child time as well as vital information. Say; “keep your eyes and ears open.  Know who is around you and what’s going on.”

(7) Don’t go anywhere with a stranger: Educate your child about some tactics to lure young children.  Gifts, promises of puppies, toys, or even lies like “Your Mom told me to get you” or “Your Dad is hurt…come with me” might be used.  “When you are in a store, you are to stay in the store unless we leave together.  Never leave the store without the person you came in with unless Mom/Dad tells you that you can personally.”

(8) If you’re lost…here’s where to go: We don’t want our children to panic if they can’t find us.  Tell them to look for someone in the store uniform, go to the service desk, find a cashier, or, it’s often a safe bet to approach a mom with children. “Ask that person for help.  Tell them your name and who you are looking for. Tell them that you are lost and you need to find us right away.”

(9) Stand with confidence: Body awareness can be one of the first lines of defense. Think about it; two children—one standing with confidence, head held high, walking as if he knows where he is going and what he is doing vs one who has his shoulders rolled, head and eyes down, unaware of his surroundings.  For additional body awareness and self defense, enroll your child is a top notch martial arts academy that teaches children more than just kicking and punching.  If you need a recommendation, please ask me—our Powerful Words Member Schools and Personal Development Centers are all over the world.

(10) Trust your gut: This is really a message about all choices.  “If your tummy feels weird or you have a little voice inside you that tells you ‘this doesn’t feel right’ or ‘run’ or ‘get closer to Dad/Mom’ then listen to it.  That’s your gut speaking. Your gut—that little voice inside you that tells you when something is right or wrong– is very smart.”

The last thing I would tell you is to allow your children to practice.  Have them practice yelling, kicking, screaming, punching a pillow, and moving their legs.  Have them practice talking to a store clerk and bring them to a store and encourage them to speak to those in uniform so that they get comfortable doing it. My hope is that the children in your life will never need to use many of these tips—better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.

To the wellness and safety of you and yours-

drrobynsig170

Huffington Post article about the kidnapping.

Baggage: Are you letting your “once was” dictate your “to be?”

bag2_written21-300x173

Everyone comes with baggage; roads traveled, tears cried, and scars of recent and distant past.  But we also come with gifts, strengths, and dreams.  Don’t let your “once was” dictate your “to be.” Write the ticket. Then go! —Dr. Robyn Silverman, from Creating a Community of Character, Keynote presentation

Tabula rasa is dead. And it’s OK.

We are all born into current states of something.  Good or bad, bad or good, we come in with a suitcase and we fill it up as we go along.

Some might view this as depressing. I guess it can be depending on how we choose to look at the contents of the suitcase.

What are you carting along with you? When you take inventory on the contents of your baggage you notice…

(1) Life experience wears on you vs Life experience makes you stronger: Well, which one is it? Maybe it’s a little bit of both at times—sometimes events in our lives make us feel tired, frustrated, angry, alone and sad.  We’ve all been there—some more than others. Many choose to stay in this state of unrest for months, years, and sometimes even their whole lives.  Others find ways to remain hopeful and move forward.  They use their life experiences to help them make decisions for the future and for that, they are grateful.

scar-300x199(2) Scars keep me guarded vs scars remind me that wounds heal in time:Betrayal, loss, pain and suffering have a profound effect on the human spirit.  Some are cut deep and remain closed off from others—concerned that the wound will easily open and they will be hurt again.  While we take a chance with trust, this is no way to live.  We guard ourselves from hurt but also from joy.  So many choose to try again. To trust again. To love again.  And for those who do, they give themselves a chance for new happiness and fulfillment.

(3) Challenges hold me back vs challenges urge me forward: When you feel challenged, do you push back or do you cave in?  There are many challenges in life.  Some are dealt what can be seen as a very bad hand—disabilities, unsupportive or unplugged families, poverty, illness—and yet, some thrive.  And those who do often use their challenge as a stepping stone rather than a boulder holding them down from their dreams.  One of my friends had major learning disabilities and ADHD growing up—moved from school to school hearing that she’d never be good enough– she’s now a special needs teacher who helps many children every year learn, grow, and believe in themselves.

(4) Labels stick vs labels are just one person’s opinion: Children are labeled at a very young age.  Negative labels, whether true or not, can make an impact on a young person’s psyche. “She’s shy.” “He’s not athletic.” “She’s awful in math.” Some children, teens and adults self label. Others receive implied labels by comparison, for example, “His brother is the book worm” or “Her sister is the real ‘go-getter’ in the family.” And then there are the name-calling labels such as “bitch,” “player,” and “slut,” that can pigeon hole, hold people back and keep them from attempting new goals and meeting new people. Children, teens and adults tend to live up to the expectation set forth for them.  Unless…we learn that one person’s opinion is not necessarily reality.  As mentors, business people, parents, teachers and leaders we must demonstrate that we make our own reality.

(5) Yesterday’s noted characteristics haunt me vs help me: Were you called “argumentative,” “spirited,” “headstrong,” “stubborn,” or “opinionated” when you were little?  Sometimes the old traits that frustrated our parents and teachers in the past are the very characteristics that serve us well in the future. Reframing those opinions in the positive—perhaps seeing “opinionated” as “assertive” and “headstrong” as “determined” can show that you were always in training to go after your dreams.

suitcase-300x199(6) Old baggage stored vs dealt with or dumped: Remember that bully you never faced in elementary school?  Can’t forget that one thing your parent, teacher, or friend said to you in 9th grade? Wish you said sorry for something you did in college? Negative memories can hold a lot of weight in the baggage we cart around in life.  But they don’t have to.  When I first got onto Facebook, I reached out to a bunch of people who I felt I wronged in some way in childhood or adolescence.  As a different person now, I wanted to be accountable for my mistakes.  I also remained open to others who wanted to do the same with me.  They were different people now too.  The band aid was finally pulled off—and the memories were reframed, explained, and changed.  Some of you can do the same. If the chance has passed by due to death or inability to get in touch, write the letter, say the words, have the conversation with someone else you trust so you can forgive and let it go.

(7) Negative people accommodated or released: Everyone has housed negative, rude, unsupportive, and detrimental people in their lives for some period of time.  Some have taken permanent residency in our lives—even seated in the driver’s seat or at least backseat driving us to an unhappy place each day. When it’s a family member, it can be hard to let go.   And when it’s a friend you’ve had since childhood, it can seem wrong.  Still, it may be best to literally or figuratively dethrone that person in your life.  That means cutting ties, having a frank conversation about the need for change in the relationship, spending less time with that person, or what I call “demoting them” in level of importance in your own head space.  Sometimes, the negative people are no longer in our lives but we still repeat their ugly words in the privacy of our own head—shine light on that—and let them go.

The weight we give our so-called deficits, weaknesses, negative life experiences, leaches, and unsupportive labels actually is up to us.  It’s not always easy to let go, reframe or disempower whatever has been weighing us down—but it is possible and it is time.  When we commit to making this shift, our strengths become more obvious, our happiness more likely, and of course, our baggage more manageable, lighter, and quite nice to have along for the ride.

drrobynsig170

Colds, Colds, and More Colds! Getting Healthy During Cold Season

dadanddaughter_sleep-199x300Well, I like to think of it as an indicator of just how close my family is– when one has a cold, we all get it.  It’s hard to avoid, you know, with my almost 3 year old giving lots of hugs and kisses to everyone and my 19 month old putting his mouth on everything and then coughing and sneezing in our faces.  Fun times in the Silverman household.

chickensoup2-300x225 remember how it once was—no problem avoiding colds.  If my husband, Jason, had one, I would simply pistol-pack Lysol in one hand and Fabreeze in the other, spraying everything in sight– doorknobs, sheets…Jason. I’d wash my hands every chance I could. Avoid touching my face. Took vitamins and downed my share of the very awful-tasting Grapefruit Seed Extract.  Not to mention, I would make a huge pot of chicken noodle soup (made it last night, as you can see from the pic, and hoping it’s not all gone by the time I get home today!), an offering to the cold gods to please, please, please overlook me if I just took care of the rest of my family and friends who already were laid up.

Of course, I didn’t have young kids back then.  The cold gods have no mercy for parents.

So here’s the scoop about colds during Sneezin’ Season:

Cold Symptoms

  • Usually develop 2-5 days after exposed to someone else who kindly shared their cold with you. (My 19 month old started sniffling on Tuesday, my almost 3 year old on Wednesday, and my husband and I on Thursday).
  • May include: Fever, runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough, headache, and muscle aches. (What a joy!)
  • Mucus: Likely starts off clear then turns green or yellow after 2-3 days (let’s not even go there). This does not automatically indicate an “infection” as the medical world used to believe.
  • Symptoms usually get worse over the first 3-5 days and then slowly disappear over the next 10-14 days. (What ever happened to only 7 days?)

Treating a Cold

  • It’s not a bacterial infection, so antibiotics won’t work. Taking them is pointless unless you or your child has an ear or sinus infection. If you are concerned, make sure you take him/her to the Pediatrician.  My son starts to lose his balance when he gets an ear infection–he is a bit prone to them.
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you or your child: Take in extra fluids, use a cold humidifier, and rest a lot—well, if you can—which most of us probably can’t…but we can dream, can’t we?
  • You may want to get a bulb syringe or saline nasal drops to clear nasal passageways for young kids who don’t “get” the whole idea of blowing their nose yet. Of course, anyone who has a young child in their life knows that this bulb syringe (which we call the “Booger Bulb” in our house), is not received with the greatest fanfare by the child in question.
  • Some say that over-the-counter meds might help ease symptoms like fever, congestion, and cough. Talk to your pediatrician about all medications before giving them to your child.  Many are not made for young children or do not have the right dosage for young children listed on the back of the bottle.
  • Zinc lozenges should not be used by children because they’re not often tolerated well and haven’t been shown to be helpful in children.
  • Some are turning to natural remedies like honey. Doctors often recommend putting honey in tea or giving a spoonful to your preschooler to help soothe throat pain.
  • Consult your pediatrician for more information for your specific child. Be aware of possible interactions with other drugs or allergies that your child might have before trying to treat cold symptoms.

Do you have any great cold remedies? Please share here or on our Facebook page!

drrobynsig170

 

Mind Your Manners! Top 10 Tips for Helping Children Show Manners during the Holiday Season

boy_potatoes-199x300Joey, a seven year old boy with big brown eyes and a proven love for mashed potatoes did the unthinkable.  Sitting around the holiday table, Joey wanted to show his Aunt Theresa that he could be part of the “clean the plate club” just like his Great Uncle Lester.  With great conviction, he picked up his plate and licked it—sending his leftover turkey onto the floor, his unused gravy into his lap, and his mashed potatoes up his nose.  Then he sneezed…and no, he didn’t cover his mouth or nose.

Joey’s mother, Trish, told me during one of our coaching sessions, “Perhaps it would have seemed funnier if half my guests weren’t covered in remnants from Joey’s dinner…my mother-in-law included.”

Holiday time can be unpredictable. It can encourage parents to push the limits of their credit cards and children to push the buttons of their parents. The excitement of these special days coupled with “once-a-year” guests, competition for parental attention, anticipation of gifts, power shopping and elaborate meals can inspire children to do things that they might not try at any other time of the year.

How can you help to ensure that your child doesn’t do a repeat performance of Joey’s dinner disaster?

(1)  Expose them to role models with manners: It’s challenging to teach good manners if a key adult or older sibling in the house isn’t modeling them. Actions speak louder than words. Children must be shown as well as told what you would like to see with regard to manners. Older “cool” friends or siblings who have great manners can be a particularly powerful influence. If your children see others showing great manners, your children will learn to do the same.

(2)  Set the expectations: Talk to your children about how you would like them to act in certain situations before they arise. Role-play these ideas.  What would you like them to say when someone gives them a present (even if they don’t like it)?  How should they behave at the holiday table?  Give them the step by step and allow them to help you generate ideas.

(3)  Start practicing at home: Going to someone else’s house for the holiday? Manners begin at home.  If you want your child to use manners out in public or in someone else’s house, they must be reinforced and used in your home.  Practice using a napkin, asking someone to pass the food, saying thank-you to the host, and saying goodbye to the guests.

(4)  Be consistent: Children retain what you repeat.  “Please” and “thank-you” will only become habits if you teach your children to say it every time it’s appropriate.  This does not mean you should nag.  Remind your children without making a big deal of it.

(5)  Use books and posters to show examples: If you have worked with me, you know that I like to compile children’s books by category such as manners, discipline, courage, and other character education words.  The use of books and posters can be great visual ways to start a conversation about manners during holiday time as well as throughout the year.

(6)  Play the “what if” game: Provide scenarios and questions and allow the whole family to discuss manners in this interactive way.  I like to provide about 18-20 questions for each of my clients to use so that each person in the family can answer several questions.  When you do this as a family, it makes it fun as well as educational.

(7)  Play the “messy manners” game: Another fun game I encourage people to play is the “messy manners” game.  During this game you can brainstorm all the rude manners one might exhibit at the holiday table.  You can even role play these “messy manners.”  Everyone gets a good laugh but most importantly, it provides a springboard for the questions, “Why shouldn’t we do that?” and “What should we do instead?”

(8)  Review the Powerful Greeting: Any child who attends a Powerful Words Member School or has worked with me during a presentation at a school knows about the “Powerful Greeting.”  This greeting is really quite simple.  First, teach the child how to shake an adult’s hand.  Then, teach him how to look at someone in the eye.  Finally, teach him to say, “hello, my name is ____, it’s nice to meet you,” or “Hello, it’s nice to see you again, thanks for having us.”  Everyone is always very impressed and the praise the child receives from others always makes the child feel really good!

(9)  Teach the Child How to Write Thank-You Notes: In the age of email, we all know how simple it is to send a quick note.  However, we also have to admit that getting thank-you card in the mail is better.  Teach your child how to write a thank-you card if he has received a nice gift for the holidays.  Young children can draw a picture and sign their name to the card.  You can even take a picture of that child with the gift and send that along as well.  It doesn’t need to be perfect or complex; it simply shows children the importance of saying thank-you.

(10) Praise it if you like it: When you compliment children on good behavior, they’ll want to do the same thing again.  Be specific with your praise.  What did you like?  “I like the way you helped clear off the table without anyone asking.  That really put a smile on my face and shows that you have very nice manners.”  Children will be looking to do a repeat performance and find other ways to make you proud.

Good luck with your holiday plans.  Remember to try and relax through the hustle and bustle of it all.  These tips are sure to prepare you for a great day. And if the mashed potatoes still end up flying in the face of your mother-in-law during holiday dinner, don’t forget, there’s always next year.

drrobynsig170

Bah Humbug! 7 Ways to Spread Holiday Cheer to the Cheerless

sad_dog-201x300Not feeling too cheerful this holiday season?

We all know that some people aren’t feeling particularly cheerful this holiday season.  Perhaps you are in that same boat. Recession. Poor health. Bad breaks.  Family frustrations. Maybe it isn’t even you—but you are constantly surrounded by doom and gloom such that you feel that you have to be (as one of my friends confided in me) “the proverbial daisy popping through the cement sidewalk for all.” Whatever your specific frustration, the holiday music reminding listeners of white snow and the commercials demanding that you buy the latest gadget are probably not helping.

So how are you supposed to bring cheer to the cheerless…especially if you’re the one who just wants to say “Bah Humbug?”

(1) Reach out to those who put a smile on your face: While you may not be able to leave your frustrations behind, you can catch a little time on the phone, on skype, or even in person with one of your favorite friends.  Sometimes the temptation is to block out all cheerful people to wallow in your own challenges but this will leave you in the same place you are in now.  You don’t really want to feel this bad, do you?  It is true that when you surround yourself with positive people, you feel more positive yourself…even if it is just for a little while.

Ask yourself; Who makes me feel good?

Pitfalls to watch: Going to someone who used to make you feel good but is now a toxin in your life. Going to someone who doesn’t make you feel good but asking them to do it anyway. Telling yourself you don’t need anyone.

(2) Grant a wish: Helping others can take you up a notch.  Whether you know of a friend who has fallen on hard times and can’t afford a holiday gift for her child or you know of a military family in town who could really use a home cooked meal, volunteering and charity might be just what the doctor ordered.  There is even a charity service called Wish Upon A Hero where you can grant wishes for others right in your area or around the US.  There is something about helping others that can really help yourself too.

Ask yourself; who can I help?

Pitfalls to watch: Getting sucked into someone else’s problems and taking it on as your own.  Spending hours reading about the problems in the world and actually taking no action.

(3) Treat yourself to something you love: Whether it’s taking a trip to the park, a walk with a friend, a massage, a hair cut, or even whipped cream on your hot chocolate, do something that feels good to counter the bad.  Perhaps this is the time you take the drive to see your old friend.  Maybe going south for the weekend would give you a little refuge from your current situation.  A movie? Night out with friends? Reading your favorite book again?  No doubt you have favorite things—break ‘em out.

Ask youself: What helps me to feel good?

Pitfalls to watch: Spending money you don’t have. Putting off treating youself.

(4) Ask for help: Sometimes we feel like we’re on our own little island.  We have so much to do and we can’t catch a break.  Is this really the truth?  Or is there something—anything—that someone else can do to help you out.  Maybe it’s having a friend babysit for 2 hours so you have coffee out with a friend—or having a classmate’s mother pick up your child from school so you can go to the gym.  Maybe it’s having someone come over at night to be there while your elderly mother sleeps so you can go shopping with your sister while having peace of mind.  Perhaps it’s asking a neighbor if they could put leftovers aside for you one night so you don’t have to cook.  These are little things.  They really aren’t a big deal—but they may mean a few moments of sanity for you.

Ask yourself; who can I ask for help?

Pitfalls to watch: Not seeing that help may be right in front of you.  Making excuses that keep you from asking for help.

(5) Do things that make you laugh: We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine.  What brings you to tears…in a good way?  A hilarious book? A funny movie? A new comic on TV?  Maybe you just need to hang around with your 2 year old niece who literally says the darndest things or your uncle who never censors what goes through his head.  These are all little bits of medicine we can give to ourselves to relieve some of the stress and tension that is building…and building…and building.

Ask yourself; What makes me laugh?  What were the last few things that made me laugh so hard I cried?

Pitfalls to watch: Wallowing in self pity.  Telling yourself you don’t deserve to laugh or be happy.

(6) Get out: Get out of your room. Get out of your house. Get out of town!  Sometimes changing the scenery, even if it’s just for the day, can give you a difference perspective. Or some distance.  Or a refuge. Don’t know where to go? Sometimes it doesn’t matter much.  But I would say somewhere that gives you peace.  Open space.  Beautiful views.  The park.  The beach. The mountains. Or towards someone who adores you (see number 1)—a friend, a sibling, an older relative that would just plotz to pieces with joy that you came for a visit.  You could use a little plotzing with delight. (Note: To plotz means to collapse from surprise or excitement).

Ask yourself; Where can I go? What place makes me feel at ease? Where can I go that makes me feel happy?

Pitfalls to watch: Telling yourself you haveno way to get out, nowhere to go and no way of getting there.  Where there is a will there is a way.

(7) Move your body: Walk. Run. Ski. Work out. Turn on the music and dance.  There is nothing that can change a mood like a great piece of awesome music.  Turn it up and be a fool.  You can even break out the air guitar if you’ve got the notion.   Ask some friends to join you.  You might be surprised how many people could really use a good jig in the middle of the holiday season.

Ask yourself; What physical thing do I love to do?

Pitfalls to watch: Laziness, lethargy due to feeling sad or depressed.

Now I know what some of you are doing.  You are making excuses.  Shall we list a few? I don’t really want to see people…I want to stay in bed (get into my pjs, cry by myself, bury myself in a bowl full of rocky road icecream…) I don’t want to laugh. I hate asking for help. There’s nobody to ask for help. Everyone has their own problems…

Now stop it.  That’s not helping at all.  It may not be easy but the choice itself is quite simple. Commit to doing at least 1 of the 7 tips above.  Today. If you are feeling really ready to make a change, commit to doing 2 or 3 or more.  Then go do them.  People often quote Mahatma Gandhi “Be the change you want to see in the world”but it has to start with you.  So be the change you want to see in yourself.  You can do it. All you need to do is take the step and have a little faith in yourself.  You deserve it.  You really do.

Happy Holidays, my friends. Peace, joy, and love.

drrobynsig170

Dr. Robyn Silverman on The Anderson Show: Plastic Surgery & the Pressure to Be Perfect

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Plastic surgery is a booming business. In 2010, there were 296, 000 breast augmentations, 252,000 rhinoplasties, 203, 000 liposuctions procedures and 116,000 tummy tucks.  I imagine you can guess who are the most likely consumers of these procedures: women.

And it’s not just for adults. The latest figures from the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery show that the number of such procedures performed on youths 18 or younger more than tripled over a 10-year period – from 59,890 in 1997 to 205,119 in 2007. Liposuctions rose to 9,295 from 2,504, and breast augmentations increased nearly six-fold, from 1,326 to 7,882. (Info here from my body image book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It)

In the above video, I’m speaking on The Anderson Show about body image and how, in a society where plastic surgery is becoming the norm, we can build positive body image in our girls and young women.  This can be particularly complicated when, in one of the families featured on the show, the father is an established plastic surgeon who performed plastic surgery on his daughter when she asked but is now saying no to addition procedures.

Fathers are so integral in how they shape their daughter’s self concept and body image. They are the very first man in their daughters’ lives.  They answer the questions for many girls; “Am I beautiful?” “Am I valuable?” “Am I enough the way I am?”

When parents are watching the program today, I hope you’ll come away with this nugget: Tell your daughter over and over that she is beautiful just the way she is.  But don’t let beauty be the only thing you compliment.  Remind her that she is strong, powerful, talented, and valuable for all the things that make her uniquely herself.  Even if you think she isn’t listening, she is taking your opinions with her everywhere she goes—from childhood to adulthood—and if you are really consistent, those opinions will be what helps to shape a very powerful, healthy, and positive self concept and body image in your daughters.

More to come! (Additional info on the Anderson Cooper Website)

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