Thank you! We Just Broke 100,000 downloads and I’m So Grateful!

Hello Sweet friends!

Wow. I am beyond humbled and excited to share with you the exciting news! With the last two podcast episodes, we plowed through 100,000 downloads of my parenting podcast, How to Talk to Kids about Anything! 🤗

When I first started the podcast about 16 months ago, I had interviewed some of my trusted friends and colleagues to get things underway. They believed in my desire to not only provide parents and educators with tips and strategies to help all kids thrive but also to provide them with the scripts of EXACTLY what to say when challenging, uncomfortable or sensitive topics were broached.

After 68 podcast episodes so far, we’ve covered subject matter from how to talk about death, divorce, ADHD, tantrums, technology and anxiety to how to talk about sex, porn, failure, bullying, neurodiversity, (this week’s on challenging behavior with best-selling author, Dr. Ross Greene!) and so much more. I have taken copious notes, had my mind blown, and even squirmed in my seat along side of you as we learned from the best– top experts and best-selling authors who knew their stuff cold. It’s been one master class after the other and I feel privileged to be learning, growing and expanding my mind along side of all of you. I feel truly honored to be the host of How to Talk to Kids about Anything.

And as I write my book, based on all these amazing lessons I am gathering from this podcast, I hope you’ll continue to share with me what tips and scripts you are using in your families that you’ve learned here. We are all part of the same tribe. And I hope you’ll remember, even on the days we fall short, you are 10X the parent (and teacher!) you think you are. Parenting is the ultimate do-over and you are exactly where you are supposed to be.

So, sweet friends, here’s to the next 100,000! May it continue to make us better, stronger and more open parents and educators. I’m right there with you. I hope you’ll celebrate with me! ❤️🎈🎉 And if you love this podcast like I do– would you kindly rate and review it– it means so much!

Let’s continue expanding our minds together– it’s a win for our entire parenting community and of course, to our kids.

Love to all.

xo,
Dr. Robyn

Top 10 Family Rules with Dr. Robyn Silverman

Family rules. Something every family needs but likely has not formally discussed or written down. Think about it– does your family have known, documented family rules?

Rules make the household “work.” They keep things safe and fair for everyone. With rules, kids know what is to be expected and can rise to the occasion. Of course, without known rules, it’s very hard to enforce them, use them for guidance or for each family member to know when they’ve crossed the line.

As I’m getting ready to release my very first Family Action Blueprint (forthcoming) package that centers on family rule development and discussion, I certainly have tons of ideas!

Below is an example of 10 rules to get you thinking of what you’d like to post on your fridge and discuss in your family meeting. However, I encourage you to ask your children to contribute to the family rules as I’ve continued to learn that when working with young people; if you say it, it can be ignored or challenged, if they say it, it becomes the gospel truth.

You can ask directly; Read more

Body Image and Girls: 8 Ways to Help Our Daughters Thrive in a Thin-is-in World

It was 1996, my Freshman year of college, when I came face-to-face with a truth that still follows me today- one unifying concern that almost all girls and women seem to share is that they want to change something about their bodies. I still remember when it happened, as it came as a surprise to me. One of my friends asked me if my thighs touched. This gifted young woman, with big brown eyes, a sharp brain and warm heart worried that how close her thighs were to the other cancelled out her talents, intelligence and overall value.

It stuck with me. I spoke to countless other women and teens along the way who felt similarly. Despite the strengths they had to offer, they felt that “looks” were more important than their other attributes.

In graduate school, I studies body image. In fact, I wrote a qualifying paper and my 167-page dissertation on the topic. As it turns out, even research tells us that despite all that women and girls have to offer this world, 96% of girls and women want to change something about their bodies.

I completed my book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It, based on my dissertation work, in 2009 with my newborn baby girl, Tallie, strapped to my chest. The book was published in 2010. It’s 2018– and the issue is just as prevalent today as it was then. But of course, my own mothering love and worry for my now 9-year-old daughter and her beautiful friends, sheds a much more personal light to this prevalent problem.

So, how can we help our girls thrive? Read more

Controversial Videos Create Negative Reputation for 9-Year-Old Child Lil Tay

I was interviewed for Nightline this week regarding a story about a young girl, LilTay, her controversial videos, the adults who are profiting off of her negative reputation and her very popular Instagram account.

What’s happening?

I think this is a story of a young child who is being used and fed a script to garner attention and gain money. She is the puppet and the adults in her life are pulling the strings. While others might say she is making her own choices, she is 9 years old—and while she is fully equipped to make some choices in her life- pursuing music over gymnastics or art—who she wants to be friends with- what she wants to wear, when the stakes are so high, the persona is so public and the footprint so big—we need some strong adult influence here—if it’s positive, then great things can happen but if it’s negative or not in the best interests of the child, it certainly can do more harm than good.

Is this detrimental?

I believe that a negative reputation can have a profound effect on a young, developing girl. Children are shaped by their connections and by their experiences. Her experiences are being shaped by the adults in her life and by what they are having her do and say. What happens down the line when she is 13, 15, 20 or 30—and she wants to go a different path? Her managers have created such a large footprint that it will be difficult for her to shake this contrived reputation if she would like to do so.

Her reputation proceeds her knowing who she is– the key adults in her life are helping to  create a reputation that Taylor will need to fit herself into for the rest of her life.

Is a 9-year-old equipped to make these decisions?

Children don’t yet have a fully developed pre-frontal cortex that allows us to make decisions based on different factors. In other words, children’s brains are not fully developed—that’s why we have parents, teachers and coaches to help guide the way.

Who is accountable?

An online reputation that embraces such a negative persona, even if it’s orchestrated (why I think it’s orchestrated), can have a negative effect on how others see you. At his point, people are asking her where her parents are—as they are accountable now– but eventually, they will be holding her accountable.

What is our responsibility as parents?

It’s our responsibility as parents to help guide our children to become the best versions of themselves—to become kind, contributing citizens who use their gifts to inspire and help others. My concern is that this negative persona actually takes away from her gifts—it says “look at me” instead of hear my music or my message. It is really up to us as parents, leaders and educators, to help our young people though connection, conversation and example, to highlight their gifts, develop their character and contribute something positive to this world.

Why are likes and comments so important to the kids who use social media?

We know that many young people look to social media to gain attention—likes and comments become validation for their existence and that can become addictive. It feels good to be seen and heard—even if it’s not for the right things.

What kind of effect can all those negative comments have on this young girl?

A young child does not have the capacity to simply turn a blind eye to nasty, lewd or threatening comments. They can reek havoc on her developing self esteem, self worth and sense of self. The internet is not a bubble. She, with the help of the adults in her life, is creating controversy and backlash. Her brand will continue to garner negative attention which will be hard to shake as she grows.

What do YOU think of this situation? Full Nightline video here. Do you find these videos problematic or entertaining? Knowing that most people will only see the videos in which she curses, uses offensive racist terminology, flashes money around and talks smack about everyone in her path– are the adults in her life setting her up for positive stardom or a negative reputation that is problematic and harmful?

Leadership: More than Just Showing the Way

Leaders don’t just show the way, know the way and go the way. They inspire others to feel competent, confident and courageous. They believe and also help others to believe in themselves. So leading is not just about standing out in front, it’s about being the person who sees the potential in others and helps them to see it in themselves.

#Leadership is not just about standing out in front, it’s about being the person who sees the potential in others and helps them to see it in themselves. Click To Tweet

See there’s a difference between watching someone achieve a goal and seeing that it’s possible for others and seeing someone achieve a goal and thinking “it’s possible for me too.”

There’s a difference between watching someone achieve a goal and thinking that it’s possible for others and seeing someone achieve a goal and thinking -it’s possible for me too. #Leadership Click To Tweet

Whether it’s a fitness goal, academic goal, parenting goal, athletic goal or business goal, we all need leaders who inspire us into action because we feel that we CAN achieve.

When I present a #keynote or write curriculum, it’s then, not about me. It’s about giving the skills and the scripts that make people say; “yes, I can do this.” I want my audience to leave feeling ready and able. I want them to say; “I’ve got what I need to do this now.” So yes, I can tell stories illustrating the “doing it” but if we don’t impart the skills and highlight the gifts that the other person has to feel competent and able, we are falling short on this #leadership front.

Whether you are a parent, teacher or coach, you know what I mean. We can inspire action not by simply doing it ourselves, certainly not doing it for them (that undermines everything) but by helping them see that they have what it takes to do it. And yes, of course, we may need to provide help in some form or another but isn’t the goal to get them to feel that they can ultimately take the lead in the task at hand?

Here’s to all you great leaders out there.

.

Xo-

Dr. Robyn

Confidence Comes from Experience

Someone asked me how to help her child become more confident– especially give that she felt she lacks confidence too.

You can’t will yourself to be confident. There’s no trick. There’s no magic button. In order to become confident you need to do the thing that scares you. You need to look in the face of uncertainty and still keep going.

You need to be louder than doubt. Bigger than the barrier. Bolder than the fear.

Remember when you ??? You know that time when…??? Conjure up those experiences when you kicked insecurity aside and did what you had to do. You can do this. You can do this.

Yes you can. Just do the thing. When you do the thing that scares you, you realize, it’s not so tough. It’s not so bad. It’s not so scary. And along the way, you become better at the thing, don’t you? And becoming better at it often makes us feel more comfortable. Or at least you can say, “well, I’ve already done it once so I can do it again.”

So speak up. Stand up. Try the activity. Get up on stage. Have the conversation. Put yourself out there. Make the call. Plant your feet. Look them in the eye. Walk to the front of the room. Go for that run. Teeter, totter, slip, fall, fail and wipe out. Then get back up. Try again. Go for it. Your confidence depends on it.

xoxo-

 

 

 

 

How to Be a Happier Parent When Happier Moms and Dads Mean Happier Kids

HAPPIER PARENTS= HAPPIER KIDS!

Do you want to be a happier parent? Most might say yes. Would it surprise you to know that for many years, research has shown that non-parents are happier than parents on an everyday basis? It’s true.

In today’s world where many parents are often shuttling kids from one destination to another, coping with high anxiety around school, sports, college, their children’s friends, their children’s interests, screen time, keeping their children safe and perhaps also trying to keep up with the Jones too- there seems to be a “happiness gap” between childless adults and those who have children. This is NOT what we had imagined when we pictured family life, is it?

So the question is- is it possible to change our families and our family lives so that they are full of the joy that we always hoped for?

Turns out- yes we can be happier parents! We need to turn our attention to the habits and concessions we’ve made and make some important changes. And don’t worry about feeling guilty. Parents who are happier have kids who are happier!

What makes you happy?

  • Laughing with a friend over coffee?
  • Performing on stage?
  • Dancing?
  • Biking?
  • Exercising?
  • Yoga?
  • Playing an instrument?
  • Reading a good book?
  • Going out to dinner with your main squeeze?

NOW– Want to know exactly what to do? I interviewed New York Times contributing editor and columnist (remember Motherlode?), KJ Dell’Antonia about her forthcoming book, How to Be a Happier Parent, and we discussed some things we have to stop doing and some things we need to start doing to ensure our happiness. She says some controversial things like “don’t put your children first unless they are bleeding” which may make you dig your heals in and question how what she is saying applies to you- but it’s kind of like the whole airplane directive (put your own mask on first before assisting others).

Take a listen. It’s right on my #talktokids podcast over here.

Here’s to you and wishing you a lifetime of happiness (starting…now!)

Xoxo,

Before the Tragedy: The Work We Must Do with Children Right Now

Dear Sweet friend,

How do you make sense of a senseless act?

When 17 people, students and staff, are killed in and around their school, a place typically regarded as a safe haven for those who attend, how can we explain it to children? How do we explain it to ourselves?

I’ve written several articles on how to talk to kids when bad things happen (like here and here). But we’ve gotten to a point when there is much more to the discussion that dealing with the aftermath, don’t you think? I would imagine you would agree, we need to turn our attention to what’s going on with our children these days that is laying the groundwork for such tragedies to occur.

We need to turn our attention to what’s going on with our #children these days that is laying the groundwork for such tragedies to occur. #ParklandSchoolShooting Click To Tweet
  • Mental Instability and the need for help: It’s easy for people to point to a killer and simply say, “he is mentally disturbed.” And yes, there are clearly mental issues happening here–chemical imbalances that need to be addressed. But what does this really tell us? What we need to take in is the fact that many people who have mental issues were once children or teens who needed help. Perhaps they needed counseling, medication or more. This is not something people can wish away- mental illness must be considered and treated appropriately when we see it.
  • Lack of empathy: I interviewed internationally adored, educational psychologist, Dr. Michele Borba, for my most recent podcast and she talks a great deal about the lack of empathy as a precursor for future violence. When we can’t put ourselves in someone else’s position and feel how they feel in that moment, our behavior can become cruel and unfeeling. What does this tell us? It says that we must make working on empathy and other key powerful words with children a priority. Helping children identify their own feelings, read the faces and body language of others, predict future actions based on their behaviors and repair damage done is vital. We can’t only attend to academics. Character and whole-heartedness must be on our daily agenda too.
  • Isolation and a need for a mentor: When I present to parents, educators or other adults who work with children, I often talk about the youth development research. One sobering statistic from a study done with Search Institute said that the majority of young people feel that they don’t have at least 3 adults to turn to in a time of need or challenge. What’s more is that many young people don’t feel that adults understand them or that adults can give them bad advice or leave them scrambling on their own when the advice doesn’t work. We need to help make things better, not worse. What does this tell us? It means that young people need us. They need us to take an interest, to listen, if asked for- they might need advice, but ultimately, they need someone to care for the long haul. Let’s be one of the three.
  • Seen for their faults: In today’s society, people often feel scrutinized for how they don’t measure up. They “compare and despair” as my podcast guest, Debbie Reber said, which can only serve to make them feel like they can never be enough. One of the issues I often discuss in my presentation Be a Strength Finder, Not a Fault Finder is that often our labels (whether self-imposed or given by others) can define us and lock us into a negative state of being. “I am ugly…I am lazy…I am stupid…I am a bad kid…I will never amount to anything” – these become repeated mantras that don’t only play with our minds but guide our actions. They become self-fulfilling prophecies. So what does this tell us? It says that while we need to provide guidance and corrections for our children, we also must illuminate their strengths. We need to tell them of the gifts we see in them and in others—and hold a mirror up to them so that they can see themselves for what they bring to the table. When we lead with strengths, they guide us forward. When we lead with faults, they hold us back.
When we lead with strengths, they guide us forward. When we lead with faults, they hold us back. Click To Tweet

We are shocked, or tragically, perhaps not as shocked now, when school shootings occur. In the moment, it is so jarring and we feel like there is nothing we can do. Thoughts and prayers are lovely but they don’t address the issues. The actions we must take are ones that happen in the years before the shooting. And that means, let’s start on it now.

  • Get children mental help when they need it.
  • Do social skills training with kids who are lacking in empathy.
  • Be a mentor or help find a mentor for children who can use some guidance.
  • See children for their strengths, not simply for what they lack.

These are small things that make a big difference. And lord knows, we need a difference right now.

Xoxo

Confidence Building in Parenting: How to Let Go So Your Children Can Soar

Hello Sweet friend,

I hope you are doing well on this last day of January! It’s amazing how time flies by—we are already 1/12 of the way through the year!

So the other day, I took my family roller-skating at the same roller rink I used to go to as a kid. Other than being full of nostalgia as the same disco ball hung from the middle of the ceiling and remnants of the light up board that used to direct us to “all skate” or “couples only,” I was also a little bit anxious. This was my son’s first time roller skating and he can sometimes have an ugly tape inside his head telling him he can’t do something even before he starts. Do you have anyone in your life that gets that?

He asked me to go out on the floor with him so he could hold my hand. As a parent, this can get a bit dicey. You want your child to feel comfortable but not reliant. We don’t want to feed the “I can’t” monster or the “only if you help me” monster. We went out onto the floor together, and we held hands. I held his and he held mine. As he got his bearings, we went very slow so I was sure he was moving his own feet and I wasn’t pulling him along. After a few times around, I let him hold my hand but I wasn’t actively holding his. Then we progressed to him only holding my finger, using his own balance and momentum to take the lead and pull me along a little. So when the moment came when my daughter said; “You’re doing great Noah, now all you have to do is let go!” He did. And off he went. Shaky at times but completely on his own.

It can be hard to let go. But even before that, it can be hard to slowly transition from taking the lead to allowing your child to do so. And yet, this is one of the key ways that they gain confidence. Self-reliance and taking healthy risks allow a child to learn to trust him or herself. To get up when they fall. And they will. And though it’s hard, we will grin and bear it as they gain the grit to bear it themselves.

I love exploring how to gain confidence and when I keynote on this topic, talk about the many barriers that get in our way and how we can push through. We want every child to lead their life knowing; “I am capable, I can do it and I will do it.” Don’t you agree?

For more on this topic, I have three recommendations.

1. My newest podcast episode on How to Talk to Kids about Anything is with Sue Atkins where we talk about how to raise confident, happy, resilient children. Sue has such a warm and welcoming way about herself- and lots of hands-on tips.
2. One of my most popular podcasts is on “The Gift of Failure” with Jessica Lahey. She talks at length about how we step back and allow our child to take the lead even though s/he may falter. After all, this is how they learn to succeed.
3. For those raising girls or working with girls, a recent podcast with Katie Hurley, author of the just-released No More Mean Girls (wonderful reviews and tools- recommended!), details how we can raise strong, confident, compassionate girls that defy the mean culture we hear about so often.

Can we raise children who are confident and resilient? I think we can. But as Sue Atkins says on yesterday’s podcast; “Confidence is an inside job.” Our children need to develop confidence from what they do rather than what we do for them.

Looking forward to hearing what you think! Come up on Facebook or I’m now on Instagram–> Let’s chat!

Wishing you a great week, sweet friend.

Warmest regards,
Dr. Robyn

Parents: How Do We Talk to Kids about Fairness?

Do you hear “that’s not fair!” a lot in your home or school? Many children believe that “fair” means “the same.” But often, “the same” is not fair at all. If you can imagine a bunch of different people, all with different needs, wants and interests- we’d never think that we should give them all exactly the same thing! Dividing up the pizza, time, help, snacks or privileges in equal-sized packages, quite simply, does not often make sense. Of course, other times, people should receive “the same” and that is, indeed, the most fair situation.

Fairness is the “Powerful Word of the Month” for Powerful Words this month and is also the topic for my US News & World Report article and infographics for October.

Ask your children what they think of fairness and come up with scenarios the illustrate when fairness means “the same” and when it means “different.” Here are some of the questions you can explore:

(1) When does fairness mean “the same?”

(2) When does fair mean that everyone should get a “different” amount?

(3) What do yo9u do or say when you see unfair things happen to other people?

(4) What are some of the rules at home that ensures fairness?

(5) What happens to fairness when someone doesn’t follow the rules?

Also, explore some of these talking points I discuss in my US News & World Report article this month:

Talking point No. 1: Discuss people’s varying needs, since fairness is often based on what each person needs to be successful and healthy.

Talking point No. 2: Explain that fairness is sometimes based on desire and interest. Everyone likes different activities, foods, games, colors and books.

Talking point No. 3: Have a conversation about merit, hard work and perseverance. We want to send the message that people who put in the most time and effort often get the largest share.

Talking point No. 4: Talk about fairness and appropriateness. Let your child know that depending on a person’s age, experience and ability, what’s fair may change.

Talking point No. 5: Life, unfortunately, isn’t always fair.

In a quiet moment, talk about what you think is really unfair in life, whether it’s people who are suffering – like a friend who has lost her parent to cancer – or kids who are homeless, or it’s societal inequalities that make life difficult for certain groups of people. This will provide some perspective for your children, while you ask them to take a walk in another person’s shoes. They may even want to find ways to be able to help those in need!

I discuss these fairness talking points in Ask Dr. Robyn this month:

Come up on Facebook or Twitter and let’s discuss it!

Warm regards,