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Post  Mon, Jan 03 2005, 10:31 am
Today's Hayom Yom:

My father proclaimed at a farbrengen: Just as wearing tefillin every day is a Mitzva commanded by the Torah to every individual regardless of his standing in Torah, whether deeply learned or simple, so too is it an absolute duty for every person to spend a half hour every day thinking about the Torah-education of children, and to do everything in his power - and beyond his power - to inspire children to follow the path along which they are being guided.
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Post  Tue, Jan 25 2005, 6:14 pm
Teamwork Parenting
By: Yaakov Lieder

At one of our workshops, we discussed the importance of teamwork in parenting. One of the participants expressed her frustration by saying, "My husband and I often have different opinions on how to discipline our teenagers. If I say yes, he will say no. When he wants to deal with the situation in a nice way, I want to be tough. Our children sense the difference and play us one against the other. They ask permission to do things from the parent who will give the preferred answer. Why can't we be like other couples who always think alike?" she asked.

My response was, "If you and your husband were to think alike, there would be one of you too many..."

One of the beauties of marriage is that it unites two people who are so different in almost every physical, emotional and intellectual aspect. Moreover, it is because each parent contributes in his or her own individual way that the child can derive the full benefits of a healthy upbringing. However, some parents who do not enjoy a healthy relationship with each other may get caught up playing the "good cop/ bad cop" game. They think they will earn the child's love and respect by being nicer than the other parent is. In realty, it is just the opposite. While the "better" parent may gain love in the short term, they will lose respect in the long term, as well as doing harm and causing confusion to the child.

Differences between parents can occur for a number of reasons. One parent may be more assertive by nature, the other more laid back. One may have more patience than the other. Alternatively, they may simply be modelling the parenting styles of their own parents. The most common difference, however, especially when it comes to teenagers, is the degree of emotional involvement on the part of the parent. With a young child, it is usually easier to separate your emotions when approaching the child's misbehaviour, by reminding yourself that he or she is only a child. This becomes harder to do this as the child gets older and becomes a teenager. One of the parents may get into a "combative" mode in his or her relationship with an adolescent child, while the other retains a greater degree of objectivity.

I suggested to the woman that she should formulate with her husband the following approach to discipline: all issues should be discussed between the two of you, in private, and you must reach a conclusion on a policy that you are both happy to use. If one of you is not happy with your parenting policy, it will lack the consistency that is a vital element for good discipline. If necessary, you may want to consult a third party whom you trust, in order to find an approach that both of you can agree with.

Once the policy is established, sit down with your teenager and explain the rules that both of you as parents are going to apply. Be very clear that these rules are not negotiable, and that in the case that changes may be appropriate, only you, the parents, acting together as a team, will consider any changes that might become necessary.

If one of you becomes emotionally affected by what the child has done, it is wise to allow the other parent to deal with the situation, or to wait until the agitated parent has calmed down. You can tell your child how upset you are and that you think it is wise not to deal with the situation now. You will be teaching your child a lesson that you, too, are human, and that sometimes it is best to wait until the emotions have calmed down in order to make rational decisions and take sensible action.
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Post  Sun, Feb 13 2005, 12:44 pm
Labels Are For Shirts
By: Yaakov Lieder

Labels are for shirts, not for people
-- The Lubavitcher Rebbe

Telling a child "You are a liar" or "You are a lazy person" is giving them a label and, in time, he or she will start believing that they actually are that sort of person. Eventually the child will live up to this expectation. If my parents or teachers say I am a liar -- s/he will reason, consciously or subconsciously -- then I can tell lies; if they say I am lazy then that is exactly how I should behave, since that is what I am.

Our perception of who we are is deeply influenced by the labels that other people attach to us. And when it comes from people who are important to us, these labels stick much longer.

When it is necessary to criticize our children's actions, we should say things such as, You are an honest person and should not be saying untruthful things" and, "You are a person who works hard at accomplishing things, and it is unlike you to procrastinate. We should condemn the action, not the person. We need to say: "You are such a good person; such action does not fit you." If this is said strongly enough and often enough, eventually the child will see him or herself this way and strive to be the good and kind person his or her parents say s/he is.

We cannot make permanent changes in our behavior unless we make permanent changes in our own minds about who we are. A drug addict can temporarily stop taking drugs, but as long as he still believes he is a drug addict his behavior will eventually return because his actions will be incongruent with what he believes he is. Only when we "re-program" ourselves into a positive self-image can we effect true and enduring changes in the way we act and relate to others.
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Post  Thu, Apr 21 2005, 9:41 am
The Fifth Question
By: Yanki Tauber

Mah nishtanah halailah hazeh... "Why is this night different from all other nights?" our children ask us at the Passover Seder. Because, we answer, we were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and G-d set us free.

Free? Are you free?

Can a person with a mortgage be free? Can a person with a mother-in-law be free? Can a person with a job be free? Can a person without a job be free?

Freedom! Is there anything more desired yet more elusive? Is there a need more basic to our souls, yet so beyond our reach? How, indeed, do we achieve freedom from the demands, cares and burdens of daily living?

But look at your child. Observe her at play, immersed in a book, asleep and smiling at her dreams. Assured that father and mother will feed him, protect him and worry about all that needs worrying about, the child is free. Free to revel in her inner self, free to grow and develop, open to the joys and possibilities of life.

This is why Passover, the festival of freedom, is so much the festival of the child. For it is the child who evokes in us the realization that we, too, are children of G-d, and are thus inherently and eternally free. It is the child who opens our eyes to the ultimate significance of Passover: that in taking us out of Egypt to make us His chosen people, G-d has liberated us of all enslavement and subjugation for all time.

The child is the most important participant at the Passover Seder. The entire Seder is constructed around the goal to mystify the child, to stimulate his curiosity, to compel him to ask: Why is this night different from all other nights?

The child asks, and we answer. But there is another dialogue taking place -- a dialogue in which we ask, and the child explains.

Take a good look at your child this Passover. Pay her close attention -- enter her mind, view reality from her perspective. For how else might we taste freedom?
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Post  Tue, Mar 07 2006, 10:24 am
Twelve Ways to Build your Child's Self-Esteem
By: Yaakov Lieder

Self-esteem is a very important ingredient for a successful and happy life. A person can be blessed with intelligence and talent but if he or she lacks self-esteem, this can be an obstacle in achieving success in a job, a relationship and in virtually every area of life.

The early years of a child's life are the foundation for a positive self-esteem.

As parents, we cannot control everything our child sees, hears or thinks, which will be contributing to his or her self-image. But there is still much that we could do. We have the child at the earliest years of his life; G-d has given us a special gift--a new human being with a "clean slate." During those early years, what goes into the child’s mind is very impressionable. Parents are therefore provided with a unique, never-to-be-repeated opportunity to set up a "self-esteem bank account" in which the child will store many positive things about him or herself. In the years and decades to come, this "bank account" will balance out negative experiences, which are unavoidable.

So how do we endow our child's bank account? How can we, as parents, build up our child's self-esteem? The following are some suggestions:

1. Show love and affection to your child. All our dealings with our children, starting from infancy, should be done with a lot of affection and love. A baby who was dealt with love and affection will get a subconscious feeling that s/he is worthy and important enough to be loved.

2. Compliment your child. Give your child compliments as often as possible, whenever they do something right. Say, "I am very proud of you. You are very special. I like the way you have done it."

3. Make your compliments credible. It is important, however, that the compliments be credible. Exaggerated compliments like, "You are the best in the world. You are the nicest person that ever lived" can actually be counter-productive. The child will develop an inflated ego, and that can affect his relationship with friends, which in the long run will have a negative effect on his or her self-esteem.

4. Set goals for your child. The goal should be something attainable--to get dressed by herself, to get a certain mark on his next test. Set goals that are suited for the child's age and capabilities (setting a goal which is unattainable will have a negative effect). As the child works toward the goal, coach her along and compliment her success each step along the way. Once the child reaches the goal, compliment her achievement and reinforce her self-image as an achiever.

5. Criticize the action, not the person. When the child does something negative, say to the child, "You are such a good and special child, you should not be engaging in such an activity," instead of saying, "you are a bad child."

6. Validate your child's feelings. When your child suffers a blow to his self-esteem, it's important to validate his feelings. For example, if the child gets offended by a hurtful comment made by a friend or a teacher, say to the child, "Yes, you were offended by what that person said" or "you were offended by the fact that the other person doesn't like you." Only after the child feels that his feelings have been validated will he be open to you bolstering his self-esteem by pointing out the people who do like him, and the positive things that others have said about him.

7. Be proud of your child. On a regular basis, we must remember to tell the child how fortunate and how proud we are to be her parents.

8. Talk positively about your child in the presence of important people in his life, such as grandparents, teachers, friends etc.

9. Never to compare your child to others, saying, "why aren’t you like Johnny?" When such comparisons are made by others, reassure your child that she is special and unique in her own way."

10. Make sure that others dealing with your child know your child's strengths. At the beginning of the school year, speak with your child's teachers and tell them what your child's special strengths are and about the areas in which he or she excels, so that the teacher will have a positive outlook towards them and will continue to build on those strengths.

11. Tell the child on a regular basis that you will love them unconditionally. When they fail, or do the wrong thing, remember to say to them, "You are special to me, I will always love you, no matter what!”

12. Tend to your own self-esteem. You need to see yourself in a positive light. Parents who lack self-esteem will have difficulties bringing up a child with a high self-esteem. A good positive parent is a parent who knows that he or she is not perfect but values him or herself, while always trying to grow and improve.
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Post  Tue, Mar 07 2006, 10:42 am
Its true that in order to teach children respect, you must respect them but this goes for everything. If u want your children to talk nicely, we must speak nicely to them.. if want them to not yell, we must not yell, if we want them to be generous, we must give tzedaka and not make fun of beggars etc.....!! Its hard but true that however we want our kids to be, we must be ourselves....
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