Two of the Most Dangerous Words to Say to Your Child

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Two of the most dangerous words you can say to your child: "You're Special" They are dangerous not because they are a lie. They are dangerous because they can be about YOUR need to have a "special child". The burden the child then bears is one of "not enough". The fear that being his normal, imperfect, human self is not impressive enough. This costs him. Because against the burden…

Stop Blaming Your Parents

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Stop Blaming Your Parents. כִּי־אָבִ֣י וְאִמִּ֣י עֲזָב֑וּנִי וַֽיהוָ֣ה יַֽאַסְפֵֽנִי׃ Though my father and mother abandon me, God will take me in. During this month, Jews have a custom to read chapter 27 of Psalms where the above verse is found. I believe that on one level, King David is speaking of a moment that every human…

"Please Don’t Make Your Child Behave"

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I was browsing the library when two children, a boy and a girl were running up and down the aisles of books playing a noisy and apparently very enjoyable game of tag. The elderly gentleman sitting on the other side of my laptop station got up and found mom who was at one of the library computers. “Are you their mom?” his question burned. “Yes”, the blond thirty something distractedly responded.…

10 Suggestions for Encouraging a Jewish “Growth” Mindset in (ourselves and) Our Children:

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EMPATHIZE AND MODEL   1. Be open with them regarding your own past struggles and share the work and the process that led you to overcome the challenge. 2. Admit that there are (many) things that you still struggle with every day, haven’t yet mastered, and continue to work on and improve in. NORMALIZE AND EMPOWER 3. Normalize the struggle by explaining that God created us with “competing…

Your Child's Brain as Co-Parent

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One of the most difficult questions new parents ask is: “How do I know when to punish my child?” Like most parenting matters, this is best answered with guiding principles rather than specific formulas that may or may not apply to your child or your circumstance. We are blessed to possess deep insight into how the brain works and we should use that knowledge to collaborate with our child’s…

Self Esteem Junk Food

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I know a creative child. He writes short stories, builds bows and arrows from things he finds on the street, makes pottery and writes poetry.  So, when he asked me: “Rabbi, what should I put in my first YouTube video”? I was surprised. I asked and discovered that he wanted to showcase….something, something that a lot of people will see. He’s just not sure what it is. It was clear from our…

The Next Moses?

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I recently witnessed a well meaning rabbi communicate to a room full of elementary school age Torah students: “The next gadol hador (leading Torah scholar of the generation) may be sitting in this room!” I wonder if this message unintentionally does more harm than good. Surely, it is meant to inspire, but isn’t our goal to encourage each child to deepen and strengthen his/her unique connection…

Parent? Be a Leader Not a Boss.

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Are you a parent? How do you see yourself? How would you define your role? This is important. It will impact everything you do with your child and how you do it.  With the growing influence of gurus like Simon Sinek, business culture has begun to change from a management focus (A “boss” model) to a leadership focus. CEO’s still require expertise in management, but the major shift has been…

To Open Your Eyes, Move Your Feet

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Saddened and pained, Abraham is commanded to banish Hagar and the child he bore with her – Ishmael (Genesis 19:11). They are in the desert, the boy is dehydrated, ill and on the verge of dying. Seeing this and not wanting to witness his death, Hagar places him under a desert shrub and sits at a distance. She wails, she cries. Although there is no mention of his crying, screaming or wailing, the…

When Your Child Asks: "What's This?!"

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A number of years back Rabbi Aaron Ross of Yavneh Academy in New Jersey posted the following on LookJed, a Jewish educator’s forum: “Being an educator is a tricky business.  What inspires one student can turn off another student, or perhaps can turn off the same student on a different day.  We are called upon to constantly be sensitive to the characters and needs of our students and to do…