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September 3, 2015 / 19 Elul, 5775
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Mind Your Manners: Raising A Respectful And Considerate Child


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Volunteer together. Nothing raises moral awareness like doing chesed for others. Find a project that you and your children will enjoy doing and make a commitment. Maybe the family can volunteer at a soup kitchen on Sundays or maybe you can do bikur cholim every Friday afternoon. Regardless of the activity, seeing people in need will give your child perspective on the world. In addition, giving to others will build their confidence and allow them to see themselves as contributing citizens of the world.

Use your dinner table as a moral forum. Try to eat together as a family at least three times a week. Then, spend that time discussing your children’s days, current events, and Torah issues. If you use your table as a place for discussion, you will be able to guide your children to think about issues through an ethical lens.

Have high expectations for your children’s moral behavior. If you see other children on the playground making fun of someone while your child does nothing, talk to him about it later. Explain that you expect him to stand up when he thinks something is wrong. Don’t allow him to simply do what others do. Gently demand that he stick to his principles.

Accept mistakes, but discuss them. If you volunteer, set a moral code, and maintain high expectation, there are bound to be mistakes. Your children will occasionally misstep. However, if you are truly a mentsch, your response should be calm and collected. Accept the errors your child makes and simply work together to ensure that they do not happen again. Take every mistake as an opportunity for learning.

A famous proverb states, “I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand.” Helping your child “do” good deeds will help him understand the importance of considering others and acting as a moral world citizen.

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@gmail.com.


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