Construct Before You Deconstruct (Behar-Behukotai)

In the 1st portion of our double parsha we learn about what behaviors God expects from us when we enter into Israel (Leviticus Ch. 25).  In the second portion we hear of the positive outcomes when we do as God expects from us (ibid., Ch.26:3). We also hear about the punishments that will happen if we repeatedly fail to live up to those expectations.

Parenting behavior should follow a similar sequence:

  1. State the specific behavior that you expect from your child. (“After dinner, I expect you to clear your plate from the table, scrape it into the garbage and put it into the sink”)


  1. Give them time to practice that behavior and reinforce it with attention and positive regard. (Smiling – “I really appreciate you following through, taking care of your responsibility and helping clean up.”)


This alone will rewire the brain and create the neural pathways for the behavior to continue. The older unused pathways are removed by the brain’s self pruning mechanism. 


  1. Only if this is given time and is stubbornly not working do you need to figure out how to best deconstruct the old habits while supporting the new one. This is where properly administered punitive measures may be used.