In the 1950’s, bestselling author Rudolf Flesch offered to give a friend’s son, who was a struggling reader, some help with reading. He soon discovered that the problem did not lie in the boy’s intelligence, but rather in the way that reading was taught to him in school. To set out his reading principles, Flesch wrote a now famous book entitled, Why Johnny Can’t Read – and What You Can Do About It. In it, Flesch outlined the basic approach of phonics, an effective and important manner of teaching reading.
Avital walked into the test feeling great. She had studied the night before and she was sure to ace her grammar test. But, suddenly, when her teacher passed out the test paper, Avital found her palms sweating and her heart racing.
Dear Dr. Yael: My seven-year-old daughter is having a very difficult time socially in school. Another girl is making fun of her, and I do not know how to fix the problem. Because she wants to be friends with this girl (although I am not sure why), she puts herself in situations where she is the target of the girl’s ridicule.
Meet Noam, a ninth grader I worked with several years ago. Noam came to my office because he was struggling with his biology curriculum. Though Noam was extremely smart, he had ADHD, which made it hard for him to focus on all of the material presented during class. Before we even looked at the material together, I asked Noam how he learned best. His face was blank as he responded, “Um, Mrs. Schonfeld, I really am not sure.”
When an opportunity for a fresh start is handed to us, when that new door opens, it is often viewed as a gift from Hashem. In most cases in order to completely realize it, we must fully embrace it. For people transitioning into marriage the second time around this is often the reality they face: a new opportunity seldom comes without a price, without us having to, in some way, compromise the life we were accustomed to. Seamlessly blending “pre re-marriage” life with “post re-marriage, new blended family” life is difficult at best and often times takes many years to sort its’ way out.
Conversations in my head always there but never to be said, Can't escape my childish dreams, my fantasies, the unreal realities, Talking to myself again no one seems to be around, I hide myself inside myself, never thinking I'll be found… -Jamie Sue Reinhart
In Part I of My Soul Is On Fire, I told my readers about Allan, a very distraught nineteen year old who, in a moment of dire pain, told me he felt his soul was on fire.
Allan is a very troubled nineteen-year-old who has been coming to see me since August. Actually, I’m never sure if Allan will make it to the next appointment. Since we first met, I have been amazed at the amount of emotional turmoil and pain he is in. Every appointment seems to bring another “cry” for help. His anguish is noted by his constant crying and threats of harm to himself and others.
In a recent New York Times article, Robert Lipsyte, a sports author, posed the following question: “Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?” For years, I have been dealing with this question in my office. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education’s reading tests for the last thirty years show boys scoring worse than girls in every age group, every year.
It still amazes me how the Internet has completely changed our lives and how we view communication these days. My children hardly believe me when I tell them that there was a time when being in touch with someone, meant we actually saw them, spoke to them on the phone, or wrote them a letter and mailed it.
He recognized me before I recognized him. We were in Yerushalayim on different sides of the street. He was six foot two waving and yelling my name. “Noach, Noach, Noach Schwartz, the social worker! It’s me Yechiel Klein! Don’t you remember me?” He was wearing a hat, white shirt and suit and looked like a regular bochur from the Mir or Brisk. He did not look like the Yechiel I had met ten years earlier at a clinic in Boro Park.
Dear Dr. Yael: I am married and have a two and a half year old son. He is a wonderful child, but when he does not get his way, he often has a tantrum. Sometimes, I just give him what he wants because we are in public and his behavior is embarrassing. But I cannot always give in, especially when what he wants is dangerous or unhealthy. It is then that I do not know what to do.
I have often been talking about parenting the “explosive child” or a child who struggles with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). In that context, I often mention Dr. Ross Greene’s groundbreaking work on using “Plan B.” However, recently, another approach has been gaining popularity. It is from Daniel J. Siegel, MD and is often used to promote “the whole-brain child.”
I watched them tear a building down; A gang of men in a busy town. With a mighty heave and a lusty yell, They...
Parents often bring children into my office when they are already failing several subjects in school. These students are dejected, frustrated, and often depressed. They believe that because of their past performance, they will never succeed in school. It is not strange that constant effort and subsequent failure have taught them to believe that failure is the only option.
Sixteen years ago, when I married my husband, I did not give much thought to whether he was Askenazi or Sefardi. Having grown up in what was then a small close-knit Jewish community, it held little importance; my concerns were focused around whether or not my bashert (intended) was Jewish according to halacha, someone who was upstanding in both ideals and actions, and a man solidly committed to a Torah lifestyle.
I have often talked about parenting the “explosive child” or a child who struggles with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). In that context, I often mention Dr. Ross Greene’s groundbreaking work on using “Plan B.” Both in my office and in my columns, I have great responses to my work with explosive children using Dr. Greene’s techniques. However, recently, another approach has been gaining popularity, both in my office and in parenting circles. This approach is from Daniel J. Siegel, MD and is often used to promote “the whole-brain child.”
“But, I want it NOW!” Yankel screamed as his mother lifted his baby sister, Leah, out of her car seat. “Yankel, we can’t get ice cream now. I told you we could have it for dessert. We have to get inside to feed the baby.” “No! I will not go inside! I’m going to sit in the car until you give me ice cream.”
A couple of years ago The Jewish Press published a letter I wrote about how people treat “kids/teens off the derech.” I wrote about my daughter who had totally left religion and how I felt people could make a difference in these children’s lives; they either inspire them or turn them off. The response to my letter was overwhelming. People contacted me wanting to help and others wrote about their children in similar situations.
In Part I, we discussed how misunderstandings trigger anger and how different people can see the same trigger differently. I wondered if we could identity a common denominator in most disagreements and if so, was it possible we could eliminate teen aggression, couple aggression and arguments between friends, family and peers? Is there a way to bring about fewer altercations, better family unity and understanding between people with less arguments and fighting?
I feel truly blessed these days. The experience of becoming a grandmother for the second time to a beautiful, and thank G-d, healthy baby girl is quite honestly indescribable.
Just a few days ago, I bumped into a former student in the supermarket. When she saw me, she stepped away from her shopping cart full of fruits and vegetables and warmly hugged me. “Mrs. Schonfeld, I wanted to tell you something that you said to me a few years ago that has stayed with me until today.” We had worked together on social skills to help her feel more comfortable when meeting new people. I tried to jog my memory and remember something specific I had said to bolster her confidence, but nothing particularly stood out. Instead, I smiled and said, “Yes, Sarah, what was it that I said?”
Dear Dr. Yael: I have five children, and am struggling with my oldest son. He can be so good at times, but then he will...
How do we teach our children to keep themselves safe from the adult predators in our midst? Are our schools teaching them what they need to know? Are parents teaching our youth what they need to know? Does your child feel safe enough to approach you if their personal space is being invaded? How do you know?
Parents often bring children into my office when they are already failing several subjects in school. These students are dejected, frustrated and often depressed. They believe that because of their past performance, they will never succeed in school. It is not strange that constant effort and subsequent failure have taught these students to believe that failure is their only option.