Dean's Letter Tetzaveh

Rabbi Gidon Goldberg's picture

Dear Parents,

Creating a home filled with simchah in the month of Adar – Mishenichnas Adar Marbim Besimchah

Adar is the time when we want our families, children, and students to exude happiness. Often, for some reason, school or home is not as pleasurable as we might like it to be. I attended the third Love and Logic Seminar, where we came together to learn new techniques and strategies. One of the beauties of this series is the ability to apply teaching strategies into our homes as parents.

In Rick Curwin’s book Discipline with Dignity, he focuses a lot on choices and often closes with the statement: “The choice is yours. Good luck. I hope you make good choices!” Our Love and Logic trainer began her lecture suggesting that parents and teachers should give children control, which will automatically make them want to make good decisions. An example of this could be that you are trying to control how many toys are out at any given time. Many of us say, “You can’t play with the Lego till you put the blocks away.” Imagine rephrasing the statement and saying, “I can see that the blocks are out. Do you want to continue playing with the blocks or would you rather put them away and play with the Lego?” We can see from here that a simple rephrasing offers the child control, thereby increasing the chances that only one toy will be left out at a given time.

From as early as a child begins to talk, the word NO is often the first one to come out of their lips. Mrs. Becky Udman, the trainer, remarked that we can often use a YES statement as a replacement for the word NO.

An example of this might be if a child says, “I want to have a sleepover with all of my friends tonight.” The natural answer that we normally come up with is, “We never have sleepovers during the week. You won’t be able to concentrate at school. You won’t complete your homework,” etc. A simple replacement in this case to the answer NO might be: “There is a break from school on Presidents day weekend, which might be a great time to have a sleepover!” You have just said NO to the desired sleepover tonight, but offered an alternative.

Another example of this strategy is when, for example, a child who is putting beads on a rod, instead of doing the activity in its desired way, starts throwing the beads at his siblings and all over the playroom. One response might be: “You are making such a mess and disturbing your siblings while they are trying to do their work.” A Love and Logic response would be to say, “You seem to have forgotten the way that we work with the beads and rods.” Often this redirect allows children to return to the task and display the desired behavior. What do you do if the strategy doesn’t work and the child made the unfortunate decision to continue throwing the beads and messing up the playroom?

The next planned activity was for the children to go swimming. Do you reward the poor behavior of your son and leave the playroom a mess? A better response might be, “I can see you really want to go swimming. I would love for you to be able to join the rest of the children in the pool. As soon as the playroom is cleaned up you can join us in the pool,” – and then walk away. Empowering children and then using “enforceable statements” helps us to become more effective parents.

Parents often share with me that they try to enforce certain behaviors at home, but they don’t seem to be working. Parents may set expectations, offer incentives, and make all kinds of demands. Sometimes the result is that children do not respond to incentives; their efforts backfire and can even create a belligerent environment in the house, one dreaded by all.

As we enter Chodesh Adar let us try to employ some of these powerful strategies to be loving and caring, while still getting our children to do their required chores. Using these strategies can turn arguments into happiness and allow our homes to become ones that are filled with simchah.

Let me know how you are doing!

As has been the case in past years, my wife and I spend our Purim fundraising for the school in Lakewood New Jersey. We will be making a meaningful contribution the school in lieu of mishloach manos that would normally be sent to each of you individually. In a similar way, we appreciate all of your well wishes and support of the school and wish all of our families a Happy and enjoyable Purim!

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman