Tag Archives: character development

Ask Dr. Robyn: COURTESY

8-23-2015 6-15-34 PM

Dear Dr. Robyn,
In a conversation with my children’s grandparents the other day, they pointed out that so many children these days don’t use common courtesy. It’s all “me, me, me!” I think they are right. Can you provide some tips so we can make sure our children aren’t part of the problem?
— Jade & Pete G, Omaha, NE

Dear Jade & Pete,
In order to raise courteous children, we need to make sure we teach them and show them how to be courteous! But we also need to expect them to show courteous actions without dismissing disrespectful actions. Sometimes, we do one without the other.

In order to raise courteous kids:

(1) Take the extra moment to teach your child: When your child does not remember to use manners, hold the door or help others, don’t jump in and rescue. Take the moment to teach your child the right thing to do. Ask them politely, “Please hold the door for the person behind us. It shows courtesy and it’s what we would like others to do for us too!” Even small children can show courtesy!

(2) Expect courteous actions: Whether it’s at the dinner table, walking into a store, taking the groceries into the home or interacting with friends and family, expect your children to show courteous, developmentally appropriate conduct. Expect table manners, holding the door for others and a helping hand. When we expect kind conduct and relay this to our children, they are much more likely to show it.

(3) Provide courteous opportunities: When you see an opportunity to lend a helping hand or overtly use manners, take it! Say to your children; “that elderly woman is struggling with her bags and getting to out the door– what do you think we should do?” Allow them to hear the courteous way you order from a restaurant and ask them to shadow you by ordering in the same way after you. You can even go to a public area with the intention of looking for courteous opportunities.

Finally, get your family involved with charity: When we can show our children the many people, animals and places that are in need to help, it can ignite their empathy and desire to help. It can also help to underscore how fortunate they are and help them to see that they have the ability and resources to help others. Through charity, our children can learn to show concern and kindness for others and do something that can help others!

Here’s to your success!

Dr. Robyn Signature

Kid Martial Arts

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6-9-2015 6-37-56 PM

Dear Dr. Robyn,
My child tends to be very trusting of her friends even when they don’t deserve the trust she gives to them…How can I teach her to be more discerning about her friendships and the people she trusts? — Cathy M, Seattle, WA

Dear Cathy,

For many children, the desire to connect with their peers is joined by trusting too quickly. Telling secrets, investing time and
expecting promises to be fulfilled can be met with disappointment when the friendship is not founded on trust. When I present to parents, teachers or students about friendship I say; “Trust respected is a friendship protected.” In other words, without trust, friendships are vulnerable to deceit and regret.

How can we teach our children to be discerning about friendships?

(1) Ask them to define friendship: What words come to mind when you think of a good friend? Fun? Encouraging? Trustworthy? Helpful? Use these words to create a personal definition of friendship.

(2) Ask them how well their top friends adhere to their definition of a good friend: So if their words are “encouraging, trustworthy and fun,” how (and how well) do the people they deem “great friends” show these qualities?

(3) Determine if time together is toxic or beneficial: When your children are with their top friends, does the experience leave them feeling valued and good or frustrated and deflated? If your children come away with negative feelings each time they are with certain friends, that friendship may be toxic.

(4) Encourage discussion: If your children notice a negative pattern with a certain friend, encourage your children to talk, with kindness and candor, with the friend in question. You might teach them to say; “I like you and value our friendship. Lately, when we are together, you say mean things about my other friends. You don’t have to like them but I would like you to stop saying mean things about them. It makes me feel bad.”

(5) Teach that it’s OK to let go: Sometimes, friendships aren’t meant to be. When a peer consistently shows him/herself as a bad friend, it may be time to cut ties. Teach your child that it can be difficult but healthy to let go.

Here’s to your success!

Dr. Robyn Signature

Kid Martial Arts

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Dr. Robyn Introduces The June 2015 Powerful Word – TRUSTWORTHINESS

6-3-2015 9-49-31 AM

This month we will focus on the powerful word; “trustworthiness.”

Trustworthiness declares its definition in the word itself. One who is trustworthy is “worthy” or deserving of someone’s “trust” or confidence. While straightforward, trustworthiness is not easily achieved. Trust must be earned.

Trustworthiness is earned by (1) consistently telling the truth, (2) keeping promises and commitments, (3) maintaining confidentiality, (4) refraining from stealing or cheating, (5) choosing to do the right thing and (6) being accountable for one’s mistakes.

While some might believe that people become more cynical and untrusting as they age, a growing body of research shows the opposite. In fact, a new study out of Northwestern University suggests that trust increases as people get older and that those who trust more are also more likely to experience increased happiness over time (Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2015).

On the flip side, some might believe that children are all very trusting. However, research has shown that children by the age of four are able to discern who is and who is not trustworthy.

Who teaches our children about trustworthiness? Those in our families, schools and communities can certainly have a strong, positive influence.

However, there are also many negative influences. Public figures in sports, government and media have been caught lying, cheating, reneging on promises and even breaking the law. Whether we like it or not, many young people look up to these public figures as role models when they are, in fact, “anti-role models.”

The more we talk about trustworthiness with our children, the more they will learn what we expect of them and what they can expect from us. We want young people to know that trust is earned and must be treated with respect.

Thank you for your support. You are pivotal in helping to make our school one of the best personal development centers in the world.

Best Regards,

Dr. Robyn Signature

Kid Martial Arts

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Dr. Robyn Introduces the May, 2015 Powerful Word – TEAMWORK

5-5-2015 10-15-40 AM

This month we will focus on the powerful word; “teamwork.”

When a team works together, great results can be expected. Successful teamwork can shorten the time, divide the effort, and increase the morale of a group that is working towards a common goal.

Great teams accentuate strengths, compensate for weaknesses, and bring out the best in every member. Goal-getting just seems easier. Perhaps that’s why T.E.A.M. is said to stand for “Together Everyone Achieves More” or sometimes even “Together Everyone Achieves Miracles.”

We want all children to learn about the benefits of teamwork and effective teams. Of course, all teams do not guarantee the production of teamwork nor do they always guarantee success. Sometimes teams can house toxic members, poor management or a negative culture.

Therefore while we must teach children the many positive functions of teams, we also must teach them when to speak up and challenge the culture of the team. Speaking up can be tough for anyone, especially children who just want to be accepted. Yet, this is a necessary practice for leaders.

Studies tell us that youth sporting activities tend to build initiative, teamwork, and ability to regulate emotions– all vital skills that can serve them in future leadership roles. A study out last month shows that a simple game played together in sync on a computer led 8-yearolds to report a greater sense of similarity and closeness immediately after the activity (PLOS ONE, Apr 2015).

“Synchrony is like a glue that brings people together,” says author Tal-Chen Rabinowitch. Synchrony occurs when people interact together in time. It’s a fundamental prerequisite for activities such as playing music, singing, dancing and rowing. We often see synchronicity in our own classes! We are thrilled to provide opportunities for students to exercise teamwork.

Thank you for your support. You are pivotal in helping to make our school  one of the best personal development centers in the world.

Best Regards,

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Ask Dr. Robyn – LOYALTY



Dear Donna,
Thank you for writing in about this interesting dilemma. Loyalty is a tough concept for children to understand, especially when it comes to friendship, family and doing the right thing. We want our children to be a loyal person with strong character.

Here is where I would start:

(1) Help to define what loyalty is: Loyalty is being faithful and committed to someone or something. It says to the person you care about; “I have stuck by you, I am sticking by you and I will stick by you in the future.” But we must also be loyal to ourselves and our values. At times, the best way to be loyal to someone is by looking out for them. It may result in doing something that the other person doesn’t like. We must help those we like or love do the right thing as it is part of showing that we care for that person.

(2) Help to define what loyalty is not: Loyalty does not mean
that you will allow your friends to break the rules, do dangerous acts and compromise their values without standing up for what is right. You can stick by a friend without endorsing their choices just as you can value your friend without denouncing your own values. That means, if you care about your friend, speak up when s/he starts going in the wrong direction. That’s what friends do.

(3) Commend loyal acts: It’s not always easy to be loyal. In school, many children will choose popularity over sticking by a friend who has fallen out of favor. And it’s easy to see how a child might join in when friends are making unkind jokes about another friend instead of sticking up for that person. Loyal people will stick by and stick up for those who they care for even in challenging circumstances. When you see your child making the tough choice, recognize him for it. Tell him; “I know what you did wasn’t easy. It shows your loyalty and your strong character. It was not only right but courageous.”

Loyalty is confusing for children so be sure to continue to discuss it. Provide hypothetical scenarios at the dinner table and ask your children “what would you do?” Offer your thoughts and listen to their thoughts as well. Over time, they will learn how they can be a loyal person with character.

Here’s to your success!

Dr. Robyn Signature


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