Dr. Robyn Silverman on Nurturing Our Kids’ Character and Character Strengths

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In this episode of the TiLT Parenting Podcast, I’m bringing to you a conversation with the fantastic Dr. Robyn Silverman, a child and adolescent development specialist who focuses on nurturing kids’ character strengths, and body/self esteem development during childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood. As a strong believer that children are assets to be developed not deficits to be managed, Robyn’s work reflects a positive approach that shows that with the right tools, all young people have the ability to thrive and succeed. 

Dr. Robyn has so much insight to share and this is definitely one of those rich conversations with many insights and useful nuggets, but the core focus of our conversation is character development, character strengths, and self-growth and how we as parents can best nurture the values and character traits in our differently-wired children that are so important to us. Again, we cover a lot in this talk—if you’re like me, you’re going have at least one or two a ha moments over the next half hour. I hope you enjoy it!


About Dr. Robyn Silverman

Dr. Robyn Silverman has spent more than 15 years researching, writing and working in the areas of leadership development, character education, body image, developmental psychology, social-emotional learning and most recently, grit, “strength-finding” and success. She recently launched a podcast, How to Talk to Kids About Anything, and is a frequently featured expert in the national media, including The Today Show and Good Morning America.


Things you’ll learn from this episode

  • How to see kids as assets to be developed, not deficits to be managed
  • Ways to help your child tap into his or her strengths
  • What character is and why we need to help kids develop it
  • The value in answering the questions: What would I want people to say about my kid? When I’m not there, what would I hope my child would do or say? What would my child say is really important to me?
  • How to avoid the pit of getting sucked into the “Fictitious Facebook Family” comparison
  • What to do when your child isn’t embodying the values and character traits you hold dear
  • How children benefit when we look at them through their strengths


Resources mentioned for nurturing our kids’ character


Episode Transcript

Debbie Reber  00:00

Hey there, it’s Debbie and welcome to Playback Friday. I’m going back into the archives and re-releasing some of my favorite conversations from years ago, every Friday. Unless you’re a longtime listener of the show, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard this one yet. And even if you are, you just may get something completely different from listening to it this time around. Here you go and enjoy the show.

Robyn Silverman  00:23

And lead with strengths. So often I see parents when they’re talking about their child, first talk about where they fall short. Well, he has this he’s this he’s that instead of starting with my child, he is so incredibly curious. He has an Explorer’s brain and when he is out and about in the world, he is the first to find things. The first to help you find something. He just has an eye for it. It is amazing.

Debbie Reber  00:54

Welcome to the tilled parenting podcast, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber and today I’m bringing to you a conversation with a fantastic Dr. Robyn Silverman, a child and adolescent developmental specialist with a focus on character education and body self esteem development during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood. As a strong believer that children are assets to be developed not deficits to be managed. Robyn’s work reflects a positive approach that shows that with the right tools, all young people have the ability to thrive and succeed. Robin also recently launched her own podcast called how to talk to kids about anything which is so helpful, as it provides practical language scripts and tips for making even the toughest conversations and parenting situations easier. She’s also a frequent guest on The Today Show, Good Morning America and a whole bunch of other media so she may already be on your radar. Dr. Robyn has so much information to share. And this is definitely one of those rich conversations with lots of insights and useful nuggets. But the core focus of our conversation is Character Development and self growth, and how we as parents can best nurture the values and character traits that are so important to us in our differently wired kids. Again, we cover a lot in this talk. If you’re like me, you’re going to have at least one or two aha moments over the next half hour. I hope you enjoy it. And before I get to the episode, a quick invitation to take part in our free virtual differently wired seven day challenge until parenting, the challenge features short daily videos and a private Facebook group all centered around helping parents be intentional and purposeful and parenting their eight typical kids, the challenge is free and it’s ongoing. If you want to join us sign up at tiltparenting.com/sevenday. And now I’ll get on with the show. Hi, Robyn, welcome to the show.

Robyn Silverman  02:58

Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here.

Debbie Reber  03:02

I’m excited. We’re doing this. We met so many years ago through Jess Wiener, I don’t even know how many years, maybe 10 years ago, or so.

Robyn Silverman  03:10

It was a long time ago. It really was a lot of projects ago and a lot of time ago.

Debbie Reber  03:16

Exactly. And it’s been really fun for me to see your brand and work develop. And I’m just excited to have you on the show today. So could you before we kind of dive into our conversation, tell us a little bit about yourself and the work you do with parents and you have so many areas of expertise and how you work with parents. But tell us a little bit about your core interests and your personal why?

Robyn Silverman  03:39

Sure, you know, I would say my main focus is helping the adults in children’s lives to see them as assets to be developed, rather than deficits to be managed, you know, every single child comes in with an amazing amount of strengths. But often they’re covered over by what I refer to as dirty laundry, you know, you’ve got to dig a little bit sometimes because they’ve been labeled, they’ve been, you know, made to feel inferior in different ways. They’re carrying around wounds and scars. And so many kids have these strengths that you know that some very few people might say, and yet, you know, we as a whole need to really help them to uncover them so that other people can see them and they can really see them for themselves. So that would be my main focus. I do that through speaking. I speak on leadership strength finding rather than fault finding. I speak on bullying body image and bringing about character in children. And I’m also an author. I’ve written books I’ve contributed to over 20 books, and I write articles on character education and parenting and I write a curriculum called powerful words, which provides scripts Doing and a full curriculum for afterschool programs around the world so that they can deliver a program to the kids that are at their facilities, whether it’s martial arts or gymnastics, swim, dance cheer, and they can sit down with the kids, when the kids are so excited to be there, they see these these coaches, these teachers as their mentors, they’re superheroes. And they allow that exchange to happen about really interesting topics. So I’d say those are the things that I’m doing. And I also do a lot with parents on how to talk to kids about all different topics, whether it’s stress management, or big feelings, bullying, divorce, sex, you know, and all different topics, how do you talk to kids about these topics, and help them to understand them, and then have the character when they are faced with frustrating situations, to behave in ways that you know, would be a great example of who they truly are?

Debbie Reber  06:04

Wow, when even just hearing you describe all of that you are working in so many different areas. And I’m realizing we could talk about, we could probably do an entire series with you. For the focus of today, we’re going to talk about character, but I just wanted to follow up on what you said at four. I love the way that you talk about assets and not deficits. I mean, that’s clearly a huge, foundational tenet for tilt is that we don’t look at these things as deficits, but rather differences. And I actually have another guest who’s going to be on the podcast, and by the time this airs it will have been on and we talked specifically about that idea of finding strengths. And that’s such a huge important part. And it is so counter, I think, to the way society in general treats differences. Yes, it’s true. So I love that idea of kind of flipping that on its head. And I’m just curious in the way that you talk to parents about that and getting them to start to look at their children’s differences and or their dirty laundry, as you say, do you find that a lot of your work is helping parents kind of reflect on their own baggage like is it a lot of it, their own stuff they bring to the table.

Robyn Silverman  07:20

It often is like, look, I was just writing about this on my Facebook page the other day, and I said it this way, parent the child you have not the child you thought you had not the child you wished you had not the child, you were told you were going to have parent the child you have. Because when you do that, that’s when you see their strengths. And when you can see their strengths. That’s when you know, they become all that they can be when we see our kids in terms of their deficits, then they can do no, right? When we look at them and see, you know, their kindness, their open mindedness, their curiosity, whatever it might be, that says this is who I am. That’s when you know, they can do great things for the world, that’s when their gift starts to make sense. Because you are the main contender in their lives, you’re their superhero, you’re the one that they go to. And when we can see them for that it’s really important. But we you know, it’s not to say it’s not difficult, because you know, when we conceptualize what it means to be a parent, and we think of the child that we’re going to parent, we often picture something very specific, we might picture ourselves as a child, we might picture our brothers or sisters, we may picture our friends, kids, and they are athletes, or they are great musicians, they’re amazing writers, they’re, you know, really outgoing and can talk your ear off from the moment that they walk in. But that might not be your kid. So I think it’s not just, you know, baggage in terms of, oh, I wish my kid was an athlete, but baggage in terms of who you thought you were gonna get. And then you have this child in front of you. And it’s not at all what you thought. And so now, you know, you have to move forward. And that doesn’t mean you know, I remember, you know, you’ve read something of, you know, that idea that when you have a child in front of you, who doesn’t meet what you thought it was going to be, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad thing. Right? It just means that it’s going to be different and different can be really good.

Debbie Reber  09:44

Absolutely. And it is a lot of it’s a lot of just letting go and surrendering, which I think is an ongoing process. You know, I remember when Asher was younger, I kept thinking okay, at a certain point I’m going to come to full acceptance of what’s going on. Hang on, like that was my goal. And you know, that’s when the book far from the tree had come out. And I watched his TED Talk. And I’m like, I can do this. But I was trying to force acceptance and realize that over time, that it really is a constant kind of evaluation of what you thought it was going to look like. And then acknowledging that’s not what’s going on, and then letting go a little more. It’s a journey.

Robyn Silverman  10:22

Yes, exactly. It’s a journey. And you have to, you know, go on that journey with an open heart and an open mind instead of this is what it was going to be. This is what I thought, and I, you know, we all let go in different ways. I mean, honestly, we adopted both of our kids, and I love them dearly. Did I think that that was the route that I was going to go down when I, you know, first thought about parenting now, but you know, you open your heart and you open your mind. And guess what, you know, you wind up with some incredible people in your life because of this newness. This difference?

Debbie Reber  10:59

Yeah. I love that love the way you phrase that. Okay, well, let’s shift into our conversation, then we’re going to spend today talking about character, and I know that a lot of the work you do is around recognizing and building character. So before we get into that, could you define what you mean by character? And why do you think that is such an important thing for us to be considering as we raise our kids?

Robyn Silverman  11:23

Well, I think of character is who you are, you know, and hopefully what you do to express who you are, you want those pieces to match. I think of it when I’m explaining it to kids, is what you do when all eyes are on you. And when all eyes look away. So, you know, there’s a lot of messages that tell us that things need to be bigger and faster, and the best and the most and the most expensive, and really characters where behavior starts and ends. How do our children show respect for others and themselves? You know, the environment, the animals, the people, they know, the people they love? Are they disciplined? Will they persevere? You know, what are they going to do in the tough circumstances when they can be impulsive, but they pull back, you know, when they are given the option to do the wrong thing, and they do the right thing? When they’re given the option to participate? And they step up? Or do they, you know, walk away and opt out. So, really, character is, who you are and what you do. And it’s so important that we teach this to our kids that we talk about it because while our kids are who they are, character does not happen by osmosis, you know, doing the right thing, in a tough situation is not easy. And we need to talk about it, we need to show it, we need to have high expectations so that our children, you know, move forward and do the right thing, because we’ve given them the foundation.

Debbie Reber  13:00

When does that start in your experience? I mean, is it really from day one, or when our kids really starting to develop their character,

Robyn Silverman  13:09

I like to do it from day one, I usually tell parents that the day one stuff is not about the kid, it’s about you. Right? So you’re the one who’s practicing, this is what I’m going to say to you when you’re three or when you’re five, you know, here’s how I’m going to explain this. And you just practicing how to talk about these tough topics, especially when you’re feeling like, I’m gonna fumble through this one, you know, I’m not good about taking talking about making mistakes, or, in my case, you know, when when it was, you know, talking about adoption, or, you know, whatever it might be that you are able to practice having those conversations when you’re talking to an infant, because they can’t, you know, they’re not, they’re not truly understanding what you’re saying. So, you know, this is the time to practice that. But as they’re getting older, and, you know, they, they, you know that babies start to receive information, they really understand what’s going on, they may not be able to express it in all the ways that we do, but they are taking things in. So what do you do when you get frustrated? You know, what do you do when you make a mistake? Are you showing responsibility? You know, do you react in a particular way, when the stakes are high? And your baby, your toddler sees those things? They take in what’s right and what’s wrong, because whatever you’re doing in their eyes is going to be right, because that’s what they see all the time. These very young kids. And then you’re, you know, you have the children around you who maybe have playgroups or, you know, they’re around other kids and you say, you know, this is how we share and this is why it’s important. Are they going to get every aspect of it when they’re really young? No. But as they get older, they take in more and more. And it’s important for us to keep providing the information so that as they can understand it, they take it in. And then they reflected back to you.

Debbie Reber  15:09

As you’re talking about it. This article came to mind that I read a number of years ago in New York Magazine, and it was about children and lying and the fact that they learned in a live from their parents. You remember when that came in? I absolutely do. Yes. So I imagine that there’s a lot of kind of accidental character development that’s happening.

Robyn Silverman  15:29

I love that “accidental character development.” You’re absolutely right. I mean, you know, you think about things like, what did your parents do? When you best behaved? You know, what did your parents do? When they didn’t feel like going to work that day? Did they get on the phone and lie to their boss? What do your parents do when they’re watching sports? On TV? or in person? You know, are they screaming at people? Are they saying, you know, hey, that was a good hit for the other team, even though it wasn’t the team that they were rooting for each piece of that, you know, each thing that we do, creates a script in the heads of our kids, and it’s good also creates a play by play the playbook of how to react in different situations.

Debbie Reber  16:16

That is terrifying to me. I mean, I’m just thinking, and I have been challenged in this particular time, in this post election season of how we talk about things that we don’t agree with, with Asher and how we speak respectfully about people who have differing views, and it’s really tricky, and what a huge responsibility, and that’s just scary to me, but of course, they’re watching and listening to everything.

Robyn Silverman  16:46

They are. And if we want our children to grow up to become adults with character, they need to see adults with character, you know, in action, but please don’t think you need to be perfect, I feel like one of the best lessons that I can teach my kids, anybody a parent can teach their kids is making mistakes and learning from them. You know, you’re if you’re challenged in the, you know, in that area of like you being able to speak about these difficult times, you know, in the political environment, with your kids without, you know, getting really revved up pissed off, and, you know, saying really negative things about certain people, you know, then you just say that, you know, you say, Look, I’m a human being, and so are you. And this thing really makes me angry. And I’ll tell you, at the core of it, it’s because I really value respect, or I really value this, you know, this is why this really, you know, makes me feel angry. And it’s something that I’m working on, and I am trying to, you know, use, you know, calming down activities, and, you know, take a breath, and you know, whatever, you talk through it, but you don’t need to be perfect. And even if you look back, I always say parenting is the ultimate do over, you know, look back and say, you know, when we talked about, you know, that one issue that came up in the news yesterday, and here’s what I said, I kind of wish I didn’t say that, here’s what I wished I said, because you know, I think it’s it’s more representative of who I am as person and, and just do it over. It’s totally okay to do it over, you have access to this person all the time. 

Debbie Reber  18:20

So, you’re good. Okay, so I was freaked out, I’m already feeling totally fine. So how do you help? Or do you help parents kind of identify what their core values or characteristics are? Is it something that we need to set aside time to consciously reflect on and get clear on together with our partner? Or do you find that most parents kind of do it subconsciously?

Robyn Silverman  18:45

Well, I think we do it subconsciously. I mean, when I’m doing this, I’ve talked about these issues, you know, in morning shows that I’ve been on, I’ve talked about them, you know, as a speaker, when I go around and speak to different organizations and schools and different nonprofits or, you know, camps, whatever, whoever brings me in, we talk about this, and I like to ask, I asked them a couple of questions. And I think that they would be, you know, useful here. So, you know, what would you want people to say about your kids, you know, when you’re not there? What would you hope your children do? Or say, you know, in tough situations, and you know, at the end of the day, what would your kids say is really important to you? You know, there’s been studies that have come out that have said, you know, that children believe that the most important thing to parents these days is how they’re performing in school, you know, how they do academically, and parents are like, wait, what? Now, that’s not the most important thing to me. What’s most important is that you’re kind to others. You know, my most important thing is that you finish what you start my most important thing is that you, you know, show respect for yourself and, you know, you you stand up your friends, whatever it might be, so So we need to convey it pretty consciously now, because kids are getting this other thought in their head, that the most important thing, because of all these messages that are coming out that the most important thing is how they’re performing academically, or that they’re the best, you know, athletically or, you know, whatever they may be getting subconsciously. So I’d say, you know, if you feel like, you know, you’re not delivering the message with a punch, that that might be a time to ask your kids, what do you think is most important to us, you know, about, about who you are, and how you act? You know, what’s what do you think is most important thing, and my kids, I’m sure I’ve, they’ve said it before that they know, it’s very important that, that people are kind and thoughtful, I so unbelievably important to me, partly from my own history, and, you know, partly just, it’s what I do, but I want kids, I want everyone to be kind and thoughtful person, and respectful to themselves and others. So can your kids say that? And? And if not, you know, that’s worth the conversation, you know, over dinner in the car. And, you know, in in certain situations, what would I hope you do in those situations? So you can do it consciously, and you don’t have to be like, Okay, today, we’re gonna have a conversation about this. You just say, you know, hey, I was listening to this podcast, and I was just wondering, you know, what do you think is most important to talk to us about who you are? What do you do? As a person?

Debbie Reber  21:35

It’s such a great question. 

Robyn Silverman  21:36

Yeah, I think it would uncover a lot. And then the conversation will just come from there. I do. You know, at the dinner table, we sometimes ask these questions. We actually have these questions in a jar that I’ve developed through my own stuff. And actually, I’m going to be making it available sometime this summer to people who are involved with my podcast and my book, but, you know, there’s questions that kids love, you know, they love finding out the answer to these questions. We go around the table and ask everybody, so it’s not just the kids, you know, like, what would you do in this situation? Or, you know, what does it mean to have, you know, great sportsmanship? Or, you know, what did you do today? That was really kind or courageous, you know, and these types of questions when we’re talking about them to kids, they’re answering them, and we’re learning about them. But then they’re hearing from us. Oh, what did daddy do? That was courageous today.

Debbie Reber  22:33

Right? Isn’t that interesting? Yeah, absolutely. And I also think kids love hearing our stories about when we were kids as well, they really, I mean, Asher will be like, Tell me another story about that. Can you think of another example when this happened, or when you felt this way? And so yeah, that’s great. And I, we are going to be having this conversation at dinner. I’m excited. I love that good stuff. So I have a question which I’ll see how clearly I can phrase it. But there are so many of us raising differently wired kids whose because of the way their child is wired, the way that they are showing up in the world, especially when they’re younger, and they are potentially, their behavior is more challenging, or more intense, then there appears in in the eyes of many people and appropriate, and they may not be kind of embodying the characters or values that are so important to us. And, you know, I’ll just say from personal experience, this was really, really challenging for me, because one of my highest values is empathy, and, and connection. And I had a child who, though now is an incredibly empathetic human being, he didn’t really display any of that when he was younger. And that’s really difficult for parents to kind of see this huge disconnect between what they value, and then their child isn’t reflecting that at all. So I’m wondering if you have thoughts about how parents can kind of go about going through that in a way that doesn’t kind of make them feel despair that their child is never going to get this or that of their child, it doesn’t really embody the things that they feel are so important.

Robyn Silverman  24:14

This is really hard. And it’s difficult not to compare. I call it the fictitious Facebook family. It’s alive and well. Yeah. You know, we’re given opportunities to compare our children to others. Every day is the first thing that some people see in the morning, the last thing that they see at night, and it’s, you know, we have the best weekend, my child, so, gosh, it’s very, very hard, right? Yeah. But we’re the ones who really see our children and we know their strengths. We know everybody’s not the same. And your child may seem behind in a certain area, but they may be really ahead in other areas, and I would challenge people to relabel their children in their own heads. based on strength, you know, how do you talk about your child? And yes, of course, you know, what, what do you hope, you know, they develop, what do you want them to develop, you want to surround your kids and yourself with the type of people who see your kids for their strengths. You want to talk about your own shortcomings, and you know what you did to work on them, and talk about them. As you know, these were my challenges. And this is something that I did to work on them. This is how it challenged me. But this is when I started to see myself move forward in that area, and lead with strengths. So often I see parents when they’re talking about their child, first talk about where they fall short, well, he has this, he’s this, he’s that, instead of starting with my child, he is so incredibly curious, he has an Explorer’s brain and when he is out and about in the world, he is the first to find things, the first to help you find something, he just has an eye for it, it is amazing. Instead of starting with, you know, my child, when everybody’s playing the game, is the last one to join in. He’s not the empathetic one, if somebody gets hurt, he’s not the one to run over, you want us first talk about your child in terms of their strengths, and really talk about in your own head, even as they’re working on their challenges, and find mentors for your child, especially when you feel challenged in a particular area. And you’re like, I just can’t be the one who works on it with my child, that you find the right people to work on those skills with your child, so that it’s kind of behind the curtain a little bit, right? And, yes, you know, they’re, they’re making progress, but that it’s not an area where you’re working on it every day, you know, and feeling frustrated and irritated because it can backfire. And then I’d say diversify your, your child’s friendship circles, so that they’re there with all different types of people, my child might do best with, you know, children who are a little bit calmer, and, you know, they might be, you know, more, you know, into doing this particular mutual interest. But the children that they’re exposed to all the time happened to be this other way. And then you wind up seeing the challenge more and more, right, the frustration level is really high, or, you know, they can’t deal with the noise. And they, you know, they feel intimidated. So you want to give them the right situation as well, so that they can, you know, they can move forward. But I know that it’s very easy to, you know, to compare and say, you know, my child was behind in this area, especially when it’s really important to you. And I would say to people try to look for the small incremental changes. Because if you look back and you say, you know, my child was not showing empathy in this particular area, I would say that, you know, your son’s 12, there were incremental changes, small things that happened. Now you’re looking back and like your child when he was seven may have been one way. Mm hmm. But there were slight changes over time. Oh, wow. He noticed that I was sad. In this particular at this particular time. That’s weird.

Debbie Reber  28:34

Yeah, I salutely. Absolutely. Yeah, I think you’re so right with that, you know, I call it comparing and despairing but it is so especially those of us who are raising kids who are moving through the world differently, there’s so much comparison that goes on, because there is this, you know, quote, unquote, normal standard that our kids aren’t fitting into. And even just you mentioning the importance of leading with strengths in the way that we talk about our children. I mean, you said that I’m like, I don’t do that. When I’m meeting someone for the first time, and I’m feeling a need to put Asher in context, I always start with the way he’s different and in a more challenging way.

Robyn Silverman  29:14

Yes, I think it’s so vital. And I think we all do it in different ways. You know, install comes in different different types of circumstances. And it’s very easy to get into that pattern. So I would just say, what is incredible about your child, and then start with that because what you’re saying is, this is who he is. Not. This is where he’s challenged. Start with. This is who he is. My child is incredibly curious. He is empathetic and kind and here’s what he does in these types of situations. And then yes, of course, you can say here’s Marius working on because then the challenge is not who he is. The character is.

Debbie Reber  29:58

That’s great. Both such an important distinction. How do kids then benefit? I’m just curious about the work that you’ve done with parents. How have you seen kids change when they’re being strongly supported by their parents or their teachers or their people around them in developing their characters and their strengths?

Robyn Silverman  30:18

I think everybody benefits. When we look at children in terms of strengths, everybody benefits, because that child then feels worthy. They feel like, you know how many times I’ve said, My child is the founder of all lost things, right? My child is the one who he is so curious, he is like, he will find anything that’s lost. And he’s the type of person that, if somebody lost something, he is going to be the first to say, Hey, let me help you find that because he knows his strength. He knows I’ve said it so many times, right? Like so. So they know that this is something that they can do really, really well. Well, I benefit, right? Because he finds all my lost things, right? Somebody lost a phone or you know, something between the couch cushions or a key remembers where it is. He just knows. Great puzzles. He’s great at spatial relations. Okay. This is one of your areas you can build like the dickens, my gosh, these the current things that you come up with, he knows I’ve told him many times, but it also winds up benefiting us, right? Because he could take that strength and how can I apply it, my daughter knows what a good friend she is to people. She knows that when somebody is on their own and alone, she’ll be the one who approaches her, she knows that, because that’s who she is. That’s how she’s seen. So everyone benefits from the different things that you know, people do. And then as you’re trying to develop more things, like anytime I, you know, my son jumps up and says, Let me help you with that. I take that moment. And I go down to his level, and I say, thank you so much, that really makes a difference to me. When you step up like that, I really appreciate when you step up, you are the kind of person who steps up when somebody else is in need. Okay, I’m developing the skill. Maybe he doesn’t have it all the time. He’s six, but it’s meaningful to me. Yeah. So you take the moment you do it to everyone, though, everybody wants to benefit from that. You benefit because you get the help, right? You’re developing this child that you think is really amazing. He benefits because he’s developing this skill. And then when he goes out into the world, and you’re not there, he’s stepping up, then he gets more positive reinforcement. So how do you want the world to be looking at your child? What do you want him to lead with? Everybody wants to be seen, but they want to be seen for their strengths, they want to be seen for what they, you know, bring to the table. And when the world wants to label you, by your wiring, rather than by what you bring to the table in terms of character in terms of who you really are. Because of your unique wiring, sometimes not even despite it, you are sold short. So who are you? What am I developing in you? And then how does it benefit the world? Let me tell you, the way is that benefits me. And you know, what, this is what I saw, this is what I heard about the way you use character in the world today, at school or with a friend and that is why those people benefited from what you did.

Debbie Reber  33:29

That’s great. And it’s such a boost to their self esteem. You know, I talked with Asher. I use similar language with him, you know, you’re the kind of person who really is concerned about equal rights. And that’s really one of your strengths. Or, you know, you’re the kind of person who… I notice you… and when I say those things to him, he just kind of gets a little taller. And it’s like, Thank you like he really feels it and owns it. So it is such a boost to their self esteem and confidence, which for a lot of differently wired kids isn’t necessarily as high as it could be.

obyn Silverman  34:05

Exactly. And they’re constantly being told that what they’re doing is wrong in regards to words, you know, that people give them that feedback so much of the time. So we need to be the ones who say, this is what you’re doing, right? This is what I see. When I look at you. This is who I say, and you know, for the child, to your 12 year old, for a child who’s six, they are compounded by the fact that they’re also their brain is barely developed. They’re right there like you know, they’re still really young and doing a lot of the behavioral choices of their age on top of maybe being differently wired. So they’re going to be getting that much more back to you know, the corrections. As they’re getting older. Then they get the you know, then they get the people are like well he’s already 12 He should be acting like this, right. So At that point, we need to really highlight their strengths, so that they can see that what those people may have said or reflected back to them isn’t actually the truth. And we don’t want to, you know, create the feedback loop of, you’re not good enough, then I’m not good enough. And then it goes back and forth and keeps, you know, building up steam. And they hear it that much louder. So we gotta break that up, and help them to see who they really are.

Debbie Reber  35:30

Do you have a few minutes to explain your core concept, which I know is about building self esteem, and I just loved the way you presented on your website. So tell our listeners what that is about.

Robyn Silverman  35:41

So when we’re talking about core, we’re talking about how do kids really see themselves? And CORE stands for comparison, observation, recognition, and expertise, or efficacy. So when we’re talking about comparison, I have two questions, how do I stack up versus what strengths do I bring to the table? So we were talking about that, right? We want to focus on what each person brings to the table, you know, in whatever circumstance they’re in, whether it’s, you know, to build a group or creating a family, and use that instead of comparison. So how, like, what strikes do I bring to the table? Observation is about the questions of do the messages I glean, demean me or support me? So what messages are kids getting at home, at school in the community, self esteem is really challenged when we’re being told we’re not good enough. So we want to surround ourselves with the right people who support us, not demean us. That’s what I was talking about diversifying your friendship circles, and really exposing your children to the right mentors. Recognition embodies the questions: are my qualities and assets overlooked? Or are they celebrated, that’s what we’re talking about. When every child comes in there, they have all these strengths that they bring, but often they’re covered over by dirty laundry, whether it’s different being differently wired, and people labeled them that way. Or they’re labeled the bitch, the shy one could be a whole host of things. Those with low self esteem are really likely to receive low praise. Because of that feedback loop, they put it out there, I’m not worthy, or something’s wrong with me. And then they get low praise. At the same time, we don’t want to give them false praise, you know, like, Oh, you’re great at everything. Good job. But that doesn’t work. Either. We want to celebrate meaningful strengths. I talked about character connecting. So what did your child do that made you know that made something happen? You know, one thing I know about you is that each time that you see somebody who’s upset, you’re the first one to go and say, How can I help you? One thing I know about you, is that when you say you’re going to do something, you finish it, you know, this is real praise, right? You’re praising who they are, like the character they bring to the table. And then expertise Am I honing? Or am I phoning in my skills, your drive, your perseverance, that’s what allows you to reach mastery. So you want to help your kid to develop their skills in something that really thrills them. You know, it’s really gratifying to people, when they achieve success in an area that’s meaningful to them, maybe, you know, some of the stuff in school, isn’t that meaningful? And they do really well. Well, great. You know, that’s, that’s good in some way. But what about the kid who, you know, really loves soccer, but not so great in it, you know, and then finally, is doing well, or, you know, the child who is challenged in the area of friendship, but finally, you know, makes really good friends. Like, that’s gratifying because it’s meaningful to them. So, you know, we need to, you know, develop those skills in our children, but find out what is it that they’re really hoping to develop, I know for my kids, you know, they’re really into science, they’re really into nature. So anytime that I have an opportunity to expose them to that, you know, if they have a day off from school, we’re going to be you know, often doing something around Science or Nature because they don’t get to do it as much in school, and then they can develop those skills that’s meaningful to them and that will build their self esteem.

Debbie Reber  39:32

That’s awesome. I will leave a link to this article on Robins website for listeners too because it just breaks this down nicely and gives you some great questions that you can go through with your child to kind of get into this and see how they’re doing with their self esteem, which I think is so important. So before we go, this has been first of all super interesting and I once again a page full of notes and lots of to do some personally that I’m going to be working on but love them Would you spend a moment just letting us know how people can get in touch with you and tell us a little bit about your new podcast?

Robyn Silverman  40:07

Sure. So people can get in touch with me at drrobynsilverman.com. Robyn with a y. So it’s drrobynsilverman.com. And they can also reach me on facebook.com/drrobyn silverman, I often post all kinds of interesting things up there, whether it’s other people’s articles, my own, my media appearances. And sometimes just a little bit of a pep talk, like I was talking about earlier about, you know, parent, the child you have, I get a lot of responses to those kinds of paragraphs that I put out there. And they’re things that I work on myself. So, you know, when I’m working on something in my own head, I put it out there for the world to contemplate as well. And twitter.com/dr Robin, and my podcast is how to talk to kids about anything, and what we’re doing, and you’re going to be on it. So that’s exciting. But what we’re talking about there is all those conversations that we should be having with our kids, but we’re not really sure what to say or what to do, or when to have them. We’re talking about them. And I’ve interviewed all different incredible experts who are at the very top of their fields, and interviewed them on these types of conversations we need to be having with kids, whether it’s how to deal with really big feelings and tantrums, or you know how to talk to kids about divorce, or, you know, the big ones like sex or drugs, bullying, adoption, you know, it spans so many different types of topics that have been so interesting. And I feel like people walk away with everything as for me as about tips, scripts, stories, and steps. So how can we get these conversations on the table? But also, what can we be doing, you know, to help our kids understand these concepts? And, you know, how can we best serve our kids, so that they walk away understanding, you know, about money, allowance, charity, you know, whatever the topic may be. And, you know, some of these topics are very intimidating, you know, and I was like, shrinking under the table when I was, gosh, I mean, when I was interviewing the woman about this woman, Dina Alexander, about sex, how do I talk to my kids about sex? Like, I know, you’re talking to me, like I like I know, you’re talking to me. And I was like, Oh, God, like, I can’t imagine saying these words. And yet, you know, once they’re out there, you have to do it, right, you have to do it. So it’s challenging for me, as my own person, but so interesting, and so helpful, you really feel like you have an expert who’s like, take you by the hand and say, say this, do this, it’s totally okay to mess up. We’re going to do this together. And then we’ll try again. So it’s, it’s been such a learning experience, and anybody can get How to Talk to Kids About Anything on iTunes, and I would love it, if you check it out.

Debbie Reber  43:05

That’s awesome. I can’t wait to listen, I will be including links for our listeners to check it out. And that work is so important. I am such a huge fan of scripts, like tell me what to say. And I will say it but yeah, and it often seems so kind of straightforward when somebody is like, oh, yeah, of course, that’s what you say. But when you’re so stuck in your head and your baggage and confusion, it’s hard to get there on your own.

Robyn Silverman  43:32

Exactly, exactly. It was so much of the time it is really straightforward. Like just say these words like you actually just have to say that I’m like, oh, but those words. Say those words. Yes, you have to say those words. And it’s, it’s so helpful. And then it’s like, you know, what do you do? You know, what do you do in this situation? I was interviewing somebody on, you know, allowance and saving money and spending money in teaching kids about that. She’s like, you know, kids are really financially illiterate. We have to teach them how this was Neil Godfrey that I had interviewed, and she’s amazing with, you know, really helping kids to understand money. And like, I’ve got to do this. And we talked about it at the dinner table that night, and it’s like, there it is already underway. And we’re already putting it into flow.

Debbie Reber  44:19

Yeah. Excellent. Well, congratulations. And I know you’re super busy. And so I want to thank you for taking the time to come by and have this conversation. I know it’s gonna really benefit our listeners. And I’m just grateful we got to have you on the show. 

Robyn Silverman  44:33

I’m so grateful to be here and to speak with you. It’s just been delightful. Thank you so much for having me.

Debbie Reber  44:43

You’ve been listening to the Tilt Parenting podcast for the show notes for this episode, including links to Robyn’s podcast, How to Talk to Kids About Anything  and the rest of the resources we discussed, visit tiltparenting.com/session61. If you like what we’re doing here, the podcasts please consider helping us cover some of the production costs. It’s fast, easy and pain free and for as little as $2 a month you can make a positive impact here at tilt parenting Central. To support us visit patreon.com/tiltparenting. And lastly, if you liked what you heard on today’s episode and you haven’t already done so, please consider Subscribing to our podcast on iTunes or leaving a review. Both things help our podcast get more visibility. Thanks again for listening. For more information until parenting visit www.tiltparenting.com


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