Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pro-Active Parenting

Friday night I had R’ Ackerman from Project YES speak in my house. He went over what he spoke about 2 weeks ago, with Expectations and then he went on to discuss Pro-Active parenting.

He mentioned the importance of calling a child by their name when giving them praise and not just when criticizing them. So that a child shouldn’t associate their name as meaning they did something wrong. Where a child would hear their name and cringe thinking “what did I do now?”.

Now what is pro-active parenting? It’s where things seem to be going smoothly, the child isn’t getting into trouble or doing anything to upset you. But yet you notice something is different and therefore take on an active role.

For example, your daughter usually plays with friends on Shabbos, and you notice for the past few weeks she has been sitting on the couch and reading a book instead. Now on the surface everything seems fine, she isn’t getting in your way. But you realize something is different and therefore want to address the situation.

So you say to your daughter “I notice you have started to read books on Shabbos instead of playing with your friends, What happened that was different?” Now since the child is in middle of reading a book you can’t expect them to shut the book and talk to you. You have to think about the child, and tell them that you would like to talk to them, and ask them when they can.

Then once you start talking to your daughter and say “What happened”, your daughter may say that one time when she was playing with her friends, one girl was very mean to her and called her names and made her cry. Now as the parent it hurts to see your child upset so you may want to dismiss her hurt feelings and say “I’m sure she didn’t mean that”. But it is important not to say that! By doing so you are not validating your child’s feelings. You are saying they don’t know what their saying, and this will cause the child to feel worse.

Instead, say “I understand that must have been hurtful”. “What happened next” Now your daughter may surprise you here with what she continues to say. She may say “Then afterwards I took out a book to read, and another girl came over and we started talking about the book”. Then you say “sounds like you had fun with the other girl”. Then she’ll remember the good time and say “yea, I had a good time with her”.

Now at this point it could be all the child needed was somebody to listen to her. So after expressing her feelings and telling over the story with what happened, she may feel all better and say “I feel better now, Thanks Mommy for listening”. And then she will go on continue playing.

Just listening, is often what children need, for us to give them our attention, and be all there for them. Not always do we have to “fix” things for them. And often times there may be no solution, or it may take a long time to solve. Now after listening, you can ask the child what they wish would happen next time. Say “if there’s any way I could help, please let me know”, so the child knows that you are there for them. Remember that the child is the expert, and they will tell you how you can help them.

If there comes a situation where a child comes home telling you what happened and you just don’t know what to say. You can say “I don’t know what to say. What do you wish I would say?”. Now at this point it could be an hour after the event occurred and the child can be angry, and what they say now might not be the same answer they say the next morning when they have to deal with the consequences.

If a child comes home from school all upset and says that their Rebbi called them a bum and told them to never open their mouth in class again. As the parent you promise the child that the Rebbi must not have meant that. Because you weren’t there, so you really don’t know, and can’t predict. You cay say at this point that you don’t know what to say, and ask the child when they would like to talk about this some more.

If the child says they would like you to talk to their Rebbi, then ask them “what would you like me to say to him”. Also, keep in mind that your child is going back to school the next morning, and dealing with the Rebbi for the rest of the year. So you should talk it over with your child and spouse before you make any quick decisions. Often times there may not be a solution, rather a picking of “the worst evil”.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Yesterday was my birthday and I turned 21! I had an amazing birthday Thanks to SN.

I went to SN for Shabbos, and got to see how his Shabbos routine goes. I enjoyed the zemiros and Divrei Torah from him and his family. I got to meet his friendly neighbors, and go to shiurim with him. I also got to go to Auror’s house, and talk with her and all her siblings. Over Shabbos I tasted so many new foods! Gefilte Fish, Bartenurah wine, eggs, and tomatoes, to name a few. I enjoyed spending time with SN, and learned more things about him that I admire.

Then Sunday, we looked at an apartment that I was really hoping would work out. B”H it did, and Monday we decided to take it! Now I feel relieved that we have an apartment, and can start focusing on buying stuff for it! Fun Fun!

Monday I went for my first gown fitting, and picked up one sheitel, which I’m going to bring back another time to have it styled some more.

Tuesday, was my Birthday! The day started off with me going to my future sister in law to check out the sheitel that she ordered for me. It was great talking with her, and she was so nice in helping me out with buying stuff, recommending where to go and what I would need to get.

Then I went to my grandparents store, where I picked out some robes and tried on some pre-tied’s, they gave me lots of stuff! It was fun trying on the pre-tied’s and looking like a “Mommy”!

Then after I finished with the robe store I was walking to try to find the city bus stop to go back home, but I didn’t know where it was, so I was walking down the Avenue. Then I BBM’d SN that I was done with my grandparents store, he BBM’d back that he was in the neighborhood, then he offered me a ride, happened to be we were a block away from each other.

So I meet him in front of a pizza store, and I see him coming to me with a huge Happy Birthday Balloon. It was such a nice surprise, and I loved how it wasn’t planned, and that we just happened to be in the same place at the same time. So we ate lunch together. Meanwhile it was still early, 3 ish, so SN was in middle of his working hours. So after lunch he was supposed to go to another place, but they were going close before we would be able to get there, so SN ended up coming to my house. I brought down my laptop and I got to watch SN work. It was fun to watch how he works.

Then after an hour, we went back to his house, where I helped him with some more invitations that he didn’t get to send out yet. Then we went to a candy store where we had fun going through the candies and picking some out. I saw 2 interesting “candies” there. One was Individually wrapped Jelly beans, and the other was a “coloring page cookie”, where you get to color on the cookie, to fill in the picture how ever you want it to look, and it’s all edible!

Then we went out to eat at a nice fancy restaurant, where we had yummy food! SN gave me a beautiful birthday present, of diamond earrings. He played a song for me on his phone that we both really like. Then we went back to the car, where we ate some candies and played “our song” for our wedding.

Then I got to see how SN does one of his side computer jobs. We went to this persons house, and it was cool watching SN doing stuff on the computer, and I can’t wait to learn how to do all kinds of things and help him out with his jobs. Then the mother in the house asked me if I wanted a tour of her house. So I said “okay” and boy what a tour it was! She had painted everything in her house, it was all amazing! She told me how she got lots of stuff from ikea and designed her house, and everything. I told he that she can be on one of those TV shows, doing home makeovers for people. Everything she painted was so professional and amazing. She painted on furniture into the kids bedroom, that look so real! She painted on the kitchen counter, and the backsplash of the kitchen, that all look so real! It was all really cool.

Then SN drove me home, and it was already late, where my family would be sleeping, so he didn’t get to come in and say hello to them. But we got to talk in the car some more, which I always enjoy. Lately, we’ve been talking till the clock turns _:00, but here it was at _:46, when a car needed to go into the driveway we were blocking, so we had to call it a night, and didn’t get to talk till the _:00.

I had an amazing Birthday! And great weekend leading up to my birthday! Our wedding is getting closer! I am so excited!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I was reading what HSaboMilner had to say on being a twin, and it brought back memories of my own.

If I had a dollar for every time we were asked if our twin was identical. Identical means exactly the same.

So many times people would ask if we were identical, and this came from adults too.

My mother is a twin, and always tells over the story of how my grandmother was giving birth. My mother came first, and the doctor said “It’s a girl”. Then 2 minutes later the doctor said “It’s a boy”, so then my grandmother said “Is it a girl or a boy? you can’t tell?”. We would all laugh at the story, thinking about the olden days.

I obviously don’t know what it was like when my mother was pregnant with us, but I do remember what it was like when she was pregnant with the second set of twins. I remember being so excited to finally have younger siblings to take care of. It was exciting to have 2 babies, to play with them and feed them.

When me and my twin were younger we were really close. We played together and did everything together. We went to the same school together, separate building for boys and girls, but we were on the same bus. We would have walkie talkies, and talk to each other. It was a lot of fun. We were partners. We would play school together, and do homework together.

I had such a deep bond with him, that I felt everything he felt. I would hurt for him. I didn’t have that same bond with my older brother. Me and my twin always got a long and were best friends. My twin brother was always so good to me, and wanted to take care of me. He would protect me in school, and tried to take care of me when we got lost. Even now he is so good to me. He gave me his blackberry when he got a new phone, which made me so happy since SN has a blackberry too. He asked me what I want for my birthday present, even though it’s his birthday too.

HSaboMilner puts it very nicely:

There is something deeply magical and mystical about being created at the same time as someone else. Growing together from a cluster of cells into human beings. Our bond was created 9 months before our birth – there is no way that anyone could ever hope to recreate that in the physical world.

As the years gone by, and there started to be a separation between boys and girls, we drifted a part, and became like regular brother and sister. Then I started to think it would be better to be twins with a girl, cause then you would really get to do everything together, and if you were identical you would get to switch places on people, like “Elizabeth and Jessica” did, from some story book I used to love reading. But then I would read stories about twin girls being in competition with each other, and I was happy to be twins with a boy again.

With my younger brother and sister, they were a different type of twins. They weren’t always together. They were on different levels, which made it hard for them to play which each other. It’s easy to explain to an older child that the younger child can’t do certain things yet, or that you have to be the big one and give in. But with twins it’s hard, because their the same age, so you can’t tell one they have to be “older” and give in, or that the other is younger and that’s why they can’t do whatever it may be.

Being a twin was really fun as a child, and I’ll cherish the memories. Now I still have a connection with my twin, but it’s not the same as before. Though we still get a long great. Now I feel connected to SN and hope to grow our connection to the upmost. 

Being that it seems like twins is in the genes of my family (3 sets) it makes me wonder if I’ll have twins, and which I would rather. I used to think that twins are so cool, and you get a lot of attention because of it. But parenting wise, I think singles are easier. But whatever Hashem gives me I will be happy with!

Saturday, January 9, 2010


Friday night I went to a great shiur by R’ Ackerman from project Y.E.S on the topic of expectations with children.

There are 3 rules to follow when formulating an expectation:

  1. The expectation has to be concrete. In that you can’t be vague in asking a child to do something.

    Example: Asking a child to clean their room is a vague request. What will happen if you tell a child to clean their room? You’ll come in and see a pile of clothing in the closet, and garbage there. So then you’ll get upset at the child, and say, “You didn’t clean your room!”, then they’ll say “But I did, look, there’s nothing on the floor, I put it all in the closet so that you won’t trip on anything. So the child had good intentions but just didn’t understand your request. Now if you would give a specific request, and say “I would like you to clean up the things from the floor, hang up the shirts in the closet and throw the garbage out.” Then that is a concrete expectation that the child can follow.
  2. The expectation should be a positive one. A parent shouldn’t tell a kid “Get your feet off the table” because then they will put their feet on the wall or the chair or any other place besides the table, and if you don’t want their feet in those places then you have to be clear and say, Put your feet only on the floor. So before you make a request for a child to do, think about what you want them to do, if you can’t think of a positive way to ask it, then wait till you can think of one.

    Also, there’s a way to ask a child to do something. It shouldn’t be “You have to be in your room in 10 minutes”. Rather, “I would like you to be in your room in 10 minutes”. There are 2 differences between the 2 sentences. 1 is changing the sentence from a “you” to an “I”. 2 is leaving out the word “have to”. If you request from the child nicely to go into their room then they are more likely to listen, than if they are being told to. In addition, if you use words like “have to” then what will happen? 15 minutes later the child is not in their room, so they realize they didn’t have to go to their room, and it makes the parent loose authority in their eyes.
  3. The expectation has to be realistic. You have to know what the child can handle at their age level, as well as the duration of how long they can do something. A little child most likely will not be able to sit at the Friday table for a long time. So you can’t expect them to. But yet, it doesn’t mean that it’s all or nothing. They can sit there for as much as they can handle. With such things, a parent shouldn’t ask the child “can you sit at the table?” because then it’s giving the child 2 choices, “yes” or “no”, but really they can sit at the table, just not for all of it, so rather you should ask “How long can you sit at the table for?”. Also, it is important to realize that each child is different, and that just because 95% of your other children were able to do something at a certain age, doesn’t mean it’s realistic for this child to.

Now after asking your child to do something, you should say over what you expect of them, and see if they understand. To clean up any misunderstandings. Then you should ask the child “What do you think of that”, so that you find out in advance feedback from the child whether they plan on doing what you expect or not. So that later when you have expected them to do something, and you find out they didn’t do it, you won’t be caught in the moment and get upset. So you talk it out in advance.

Now if the child has succeeded in doing what you asked them to, then you have to praise them on their success. You’re supposed to praise them, 500 times to the amount you criticize them. That is the key to building a child’s self esteem. If you find the child set the table, like you asked, then you say “Child’s name, you did such a great job setting the table, your such a good boy” or something like that. The praise should be able the child’s success and not about yourself, in that you shouldn’t say “you made me so happy by setting the table”. Though you can add that in to, but the focal point should be about the child accomplishing his task.

Now it says “adam nifal kefei poulasuf”, a child will become the way he acts. So that if you praise him for his success, then he will become successful. If on the other hand you always point out his failures, then he’ll think of himself as a failure. So that if a child does an expectation half way, you should praise him on that half way, so that you can build his success, rather than salvaging his failure. It’s much easier to build on success.

Now what if you asked the child to move some cups from the dining room table to the server, and then you find it wasn’t done, what do you do? You say to the child “I asked you to move the cups from the table to the server”. Then you say an observation, which should not be judgmental. You say, “I see the cups are still on the table”. Then it is very important to be dan likav zechus, and judge the child favorably, so that your not putting them on the defense. You shouldn’t say “why didn’t you put the cups on the server?” But rather say “what was hard for you?” Assuming that the child would have done what you asked if they had been able to.

Now when having a talk with a child about an important thing, you have to be Hakal Kan, all of you has to be there. You can’t have any outside distractions, as well as internal distractions, you have to realize everything is about the child, and not you being upset at the child. When talking with the child make sure you have eye contact, if their looking down, then say their name, to get their attention. Then go through the script, saying: “I asked you to do this, I see it is this way, what was hard for you?”

Then the reason will be one of 2 things. Either incompetence or non compliance. Which in most cases it’s incompetence, where the child was un capable of fulfilling your expectation. So they will explain to you why they couldn’t. Example: a child comes home and puts their coat on the floor, you find it there and then ask the child what happened, they will tell you that they hand to run to the bathroom so they couldn’t hang up their coat.

Now what happens if the child just says, “I didn’t do it because I didn’t want to”. Then you have to make sure it’s really not incompetence. You say to the child, “what happened when you tried to…” then  lots of times they will tell you, “I tried but then I couldn’t” They are just too ashamed to say that they couldn’t do something, so they say they didn’t want to do it. But once they see that you understand them, then they will open up to you and tell you why they couldn’t do what you asked. Now this is very important to find out that it’s really incompetence, as you’ll find out later.

If the child didn’t fulfill the expectation because of non compliance, there is one of 3 things that can be done:

  1. You can let it slide, you can figure this isn’t an important thing, and the child doesn’t want to do it. This does not mean “choosing your battles” since really parenting is not about a battle between parent and child, but rather helping the child grow to be successful, so you’re just making a decision, that this request is not an important one.
  2. You can threaten the child into submission. Now this one barely works, because then there will be a war between the child and parent, and you’ll be surprised how much punishment a child can handle, so that they shouldn’t loose. Rarely will they ever give in, and if they do give in, the relationship between parent and child has changed, and the child will not like his parent at all. So you have to question if this method will be worth it.
  3. You can give the child an incentive. Notice this is not a bribe, since a bribe is given to a judge so that they should do the wrong thing. Here you want the child to do the right thing, just since they don’t want to, you want to give them motivation so that they should. A child is an expert of themselves. So you ask them “What would you like to earn in order to do this thing that you don’t want to do”. You’ll be surprised at what lots of children will say to this, One child said “I want to play checkers with Totty on Friday nights”.

Now here’s where it’s important that you made sure it really was non compliance and not incompetence. Because what happens, if really the child is not capable of doing something, and then you offer them a reward if they do it. It’s cruel, because your hanging something they want in front of their eyes, but yet saying they can’t have it. Since they won’t be able to fulfill your expectation they won’t be able to get the reward. So all the charts won’t help, unless the child is capable to meet the expectation.