Do you believe words can change the world? In this episode of SuperPower Mommas, Gretchen Burman, author of Character U, joins SPM host Laura Greco to discuss the most powerful 12 words she knows. While pregnant with her first daughter, Gretchen asked herself the question, “How can I teach my daughter to feel good about herself on the inside and display kindness and respectl to others?” Listen in and hear her share her journey as a mom and learn more about the awesome tools she has created to serve parents everywhere.
Hello and welcome to SuperPower Mommas. I am your host, Laura Greco, and I’m so excited. We have a really great show today, and the topic is 12 Words Can Change the World. How about that?
My friend, Gretchen Burman, is an author. She has founded the Character U, which empowers elementary children with character building tools to feel and do their best. She believes children who have the skills to feel good on the inside are more likely to do well on the outside and behave with respect and kindness and appreciate each other’s differences. The concepts are brought out and into life in the book that she has assembled, and also she conducts author visits, workshops, and so on. So we’re going to learn more about her and how she empowers not just children but also how it’s impacting the world.
Welcome, welcome to our show, Gretchen.
Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be with you and your audience.
Yeah! And welcome to our audience. Welcome everybody. So, yeah, you’re doing really a wonderful work, and I have actually finally gotten to meet you in person although we’ve done interviews before. It’s very exciting to be again together.
Yeah. It was great to meet you as well, and I’m excited to be here with you.
Yeah. We always start our show off with the first question, which is what is your momma superpower and what would you say to that?
This took me a little while to think about and ponder. I’d say lifting others up. I think of myself as a mentor or a coach type of person who really wants to help kids learn these skills at a young age. So I can just help them throughout life, so they can appreciate and enjoy life’s journey. I mean, I think about when I grew up, I just, a lot of us in that era just didn’t necessarily grow up having the social and emotional tools. You learn them with age and with life experiences, and so I guess my goal is to bottle that a little bit, some of those experiences with the skills and tools, and teach them proactively to kids, so they’re more aware at a young age and can take it with them. So, lifting others up but particularly starting at a young age.
Yeah. Love that. I just want to say because I do know about your business, and as mommas we want, we want our children to turn out to be very successful, happy people in the world, right?
We’re also contributors, and yet it always, I always say it starts with mom, right. So you’re building this beautiful platform for mommas to be able to teach their children, and I wonder how does super power, the superpower that you have, how does that affect you personally as a mom and a parent?
I came up with these 12 words; I call them the 12 C’s when I was pregnant 11 years ago now. I mean, I worked for Marriott for 15 years. This was not necessarily my background, but I really thought about how am I going to be a good mom? What do I want to teach her so she has these qualities, these skills, so she can be a happy, well-rounded, and productive person?
It started with confidence. If she has confidence and believes in herself and her abilities, then really anything is possible. That is to me such an important thing to teach and it’s not so easy to teach. I’ve done a lot of research on how to teach it and then it was courageous. How do I teach her to have the guts to go for her dreams, and be careful, so safety. And then it really, so I was like, “Ooh, I have three C’s,” and then it kept going. It took me about a year to really, really think about what I wanted to proactively teach her. Some of the C’s are communication, compassion, commitment, centered, choices, cognitive, which is really about positive self-talk and mindset.
After I came up with these 12 C’s and I started practicing them with her and introducing them with her. I mean, it was really probably around 4 years old. I just started dabbling into courageous. So let’s say she was scared, I’d be like, “It’s okay to be scared but you can use your courage and push through that fear.” The idea was to have this common language that eventually she would know. So, not right away, but start at 4 and then by 8 or 9, she would know these words and we would continue using them and be more aware of them and practice them.
I even put a mural in her bedroom. It’s beautiful and it’s got the 12 C’s. We’ll be lying in bed, and not every day because that would probably get annoying for her, but every so often we’ll just look at them and be like which C’s did you practice today or which ones do you think well on and which ones are you struggling with? When I tuck her in at night, I’ll just stare at them and I’ll do it. I’ll say which C’s am I struggling with or which C’s have I done well today or this week? And it just stays top of mind, and even my 5-year-old, we use them all the time and she really gets it. The cognitive piece, the two characters in my book, Green Glory and Red Rant, that is almost become the theme of the 12 C’s. It’s really positive self-talk and mindset and how do Green Glory and Red Rant sound for each of the 12 C’s.
So, let’s say it’s on communication. Red Rant may say, “You’re not my friend anymore,” and it’s about behavior as well. So, “You’re not my friend anymore,” but once you say that, then you’re like, “Ooh, that was Red Rant. Ooh, I’m not listening to you, Red Rant. How can I change you to be more Green Glory?” It’s not about hating part of yourself because Red Rant is part of us, and I teach that to kids. It’s you don’t want to hate Red Rant, might be an annoying part of you, but you don’t want to hate Red Rant because it is part of you. But you can tell it to be quiet and there’s no emergency, and there’s no reason to be freaking out and to be quiet, so you can listen to Green Glory. I just think that awareness is very powerful.
One other thing I want to add to that, when I teach and I do the workshop and even the assemblies, we get into it with the other kids. Even just the power of my brain and the neurons and the connections that happen. They’re multiplying faster during childhood than any other time. I just love that I am getting in there young so they’re building these positive pathways because I read it can take 10,000 thoughts to become like that positive habit, and so if they start young, how awesome. I didn’t learn this until I was probably 35, and you can always improve, but how cool is it to learn it young. My true passion is teaching this to as many kids as I can.
This is awesome, Gretchen, very awesome.
Including my children. My kids come first and so after I came up with the 12 C’s and it’s awesome. I love it and my family loves it. How can I help other kids? So I wrote the book and it really brings the 12 C’s to life through stories and tips and activities. So, parents and teachers, it’s meant to be read by children and adults together. Reading by themselves, but it opens up dialogue and conversations, and that was great.
I did that, and I was like, “Oh, I want to help even more,” and that’s when the workshop came to be. I did lots and lots of research which was hard work but also really fun. I didn’t know I was going to like the brain and be fascinated with neurons, like whoever would’ve thought that about me back 11 years ago, but I am fascinated by all this character building world that out there that I didn’t know existed. I’m having a lot of fun with it. So the workshop was then next and then school asked me to do an assembly and that’s been a lot of fun too. I’m so excited I’m doing an assembly at my elementary school where I graduated next month.
Oh, wow. How exciting. Gretchen, I’m going to interrupt you for one second. We have to take a small break. Please tell everybody where they can find you. What’s your website? And we’re going to resume this conversation after, so go ahead.
Beautiful. Thank you, Gretchen, and hang on everybody. We’ll be right back as we continue our conversation with Gretchen on 12 Words Can Change the World.