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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?

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,

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,

 

 

How to Talk to Kids about the Las Vegas Shooting

After the terrible shooting on Sunday, October 2nd, that took place in Las Vegas killing 59 and injuring more that 500 people, parents are left wondering what to say to their children about the Las Vegas shooting. Let’s acknowledge that it’s becoming less rare to wake up to bad news lately- hurricanes, earthquakes and this senseless shooting makes us wonder when the loss of life and destruction is going to end. I get that. Our children are starting to get hear bits and pieces about these tragedies and those who haven’t will likely hear about them in time. So what do we do or say when tragedy strikes?

Resources:

  • I was interviewed for Morning Dose TV on this topic yesterday- right here.
  • Since I wrote something that is fitting when the Barcelona shooting happened– giving both tips and scripts, I’d like to give that to you now, again.
  • On my podcast, Joe Primo and I discussed How to Talk to Kids about Death & Dying if answers around grieving and death are in need.

And just a few quick words on talking to kids when tragedy strikes:

  • Be the first source– let them hear it from you. News sources are abrupt and made for adult audiences- you know best how to talk to your kids. Tell them; “I am here to answer your questions, there is nothing you can’t ask me. I may not know all the answers but I will find out what I don’t know so I can put your fears to rest.” As children get older you can ask, what do you know about this? How do you feel about this? To open up the conversation.
  • Let them know about the helpers who are working to keep everyone safe and assure them that the man responsible for the deadly act is unable to hurt anyone anymore because he is dead. Tell them; “those in law enforcement and the medical community are doing everything they can to keep us safe and take care of anyone who was hurt. Do you know how Aunt Karen takes care of people in the hospital since she’s a nurse? That’s what the people out there are doing too. Lots of people are helping.”
  • Allow them to be the helpers too– ask, how can we help someone who is suffering today? How might we help the kids who are dealing with these strategies. Something therapeutic for anyone of any age is drawing pictures and writing letters to those in Las Vegas who are suffering. They can write thank you notes to law enforcement and medical staff or raise money for a charity. As an adult, you can give blood and talk to your children about why you are doing it.

Read more

10 Powerful Conversation Starters to Teach Kids Confidence

Do you want your children to learn how to be confident but you aren’t sure how to start the conversation? The Powerful Word of the Month for June is Confidence! Confidence us a combination of trust, conviction and assuredness. Confident people are aware of their strengths (but don’t brag about them) and they also know their weaknesses and what they need to work on (but don’t shame themselves). They have a feeling of inner certainty and overall, believe in themselves.

Gather your kids around the dinner table, talk to them in the car, chat on a walk or snuggle in to discuss before bed– there is no perfect time so anytime will do! The key? To have the conversations. Yes, just have them. Our children want to hear what we have to say and want the opportunity to tell you what they think! The more we talk to kids about their lives and what they believe, the more likely they are to share.

Even kids who try new things and walk into a room with an air of confidence can feel nervous, worried, scared or shy at times. These skills are for everyone.

Ask questions like; where and when do you feel the most confident and sure of yourself? What advice would you have for a friend who wasn’t feeling confident? What are some ways you can show that you are confident? Of course, share your own feelings and stories as well. Kids love hearing how we have overcome feelings of insecurity– stories can inspire, explain and give everyone a feeling that what they are going through is normal!

Enjoy these 10 powerful conversation starters- and let me know how they go! Feel free to share!

Warm regards,

PS The podcast episode released this week is about courage- a cousin of confidence- so listen in to How to Talk to Kids about Being Brave with expert guest and best-selling author, Margie Warrell!

10 Powerful Conversation Starters to Talk to Kids about Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship, showing respect for the rules, the participants and the spirit of competition, is an important powerful word all kids (and adults) must learn when competing with others. Given that May is Sportsmanship month for Powerful Words Character Development, this is a great time to discuss sportsmanship with your children.

How can you start the conversation about sportsmanship with your kids? Here are 10 Conversation Starters that will allow you to teach your kids about sportsmanship– as well as learn what they think, feel and believe about good sportsmanship.

Topics may range from what a good sport or bad sport means to how we can be gracious winners and refrain from being sore losers, to specific issues of cheating, boasting and failing in competition. What are some ways that your children can show great sportsmanship? Why do we need to follow these respect-based rules anyway? How can our actions at a game impact the spirit of competition?

We have all seen terrible sportsmanship- from what we see on TV to what we see on the fields right in front of our faces. What have you seen? What actions do you think are okay and which actions do you feel need to be addressed? When we stay silent, it could look like we approve. And interestingly, your kids may have a great deal to say about what they have seen and heard– it will be great to get their perspective.

What do your kids think? Do you see good or bad sportsmanship around you– and how can your family contribute to the positive end of sportsmanship? Hopefully you are talking about this topic in classes this month with all the scripts and tips from Powerful Words on sportsmanship- we’d love to hear about it!

Feel free to share- and discuss!

Warm regards,

PS A podcast on Sportsmanship will be coming out in the next month or so. Keep a look out and subscribe– so you can be the first to know! You can look right here on the podcast page or subscribe on iTunes (or whatever podcast site you listen through) and I know- you’ll love it!

Double the Fun! Two New Podcasts Out on Empathy and the Death of a Pet

Good morning! Aren’t Tuesdays fun?

For one thing, they aren’t Mondays—and for another, another episode of How to Talk to Kids about Anything is available! And you know what? THIS Tuesday is double the fun because we have TWO episodes available for you as an extra bit of love for you this week.

***First, we have How to Talk to Kids about Empathy and Entitlement by the amazing best-selling author & Today Show contributor, Dr. Michele Borba.

Based on her new book (softcover version out TODAY!), UnSelfie, Michele provides us with outstanding tips and scripts to raise empathetic, caring kids in an “all-about me” world. Michele has traveled widely and studied this topic for years—you don’t want to miss it!

“Once you realize you can nurture empathy, that our children are hardwired for it, you’ll look for dozens of just simple little daily moments to weave it in, take it up, and let your children know it matters. That’s how we produce a better generation of kids: A group of children who are unselfies, who think we, not me.” ~Dr. Michele Borba

***And, as a bonus, for anyone who has a pet or is suffering from pet-loss grief, we have How to Talk to Kids about the Death of a Pet. Best-selling author, Wendy Van de Poll, provides tips to help adults know how to help a child grieve when a pet dies as well as what to say to a child when a pet is sick and death is imminent. She also provides ways to help support a child in moving forward to engage in positive memories to help heal the grief.

The relationships that children have with animals are purely magical.” ~Wendy Van de Poll

You can get any of the podcasts on my website as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and other podcast delivery sites.

I can’t wait to hear what you think! And if you love this episode like I did, it would be so awesome to have you subscribe, rate and review it on iTunes so that others learn all about it. And please, feel free to share it!

Happy Listening!