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.
Menchlichkeit, good middos, patience and wisdom are the accolades I heard over and over again by stepchildren and stepparents when I asked them to describe the attributes of a good stepparent.
Dear Dr. Yael: I now see why so many children are insecure. I have been a day-care provider for many years. When parents initially consider day care they want a small group so their children will not be neglected. But problems arise when their children turn two, and nursery or playgroup becomes an option. All of a sudden a group of 20-25 children is not a problem because it is much cheaper. I refer to two-two and a half year olds, whose parents feel that they need to exclusively be with children their own age.
The alarm clock rings and Chaim pulls his pillow over his head to stifle the screeching noise. Mornings are Chaim’s least favorite part of the day; they always end in someone yelling. In truth, mornings are difficult for most of us, but particularly so for those who struggle with basic skills that are labeled “executive function” skills.
In all my years of teaching kriyah and English reading, I have encountered more boys than girls who struggle with the skill. We are even subconsciously programmed to think of reading as a female endeavor. Picture a reader in a comfy chair, thinking, “Wow, what a great book! I can’t wait to share this with my friends.” Was the reader you imagined male or female? Chances are, you envisioned a female reader. The idea that the majority of readers are female is consistent with reading scores around the nation.
Dear Dr. Yael: I am having a very difficult time putting my children to sleep at night. My four-year-old son constantly barges out of his room after he has been put to bed. This usually goes on for about an hour - no matter how many times I put him back in bed or threaten to punish him. I also have an eight- year-old who is afraid of bedtime because she can't sleep.
After my recent article about the difficult trials divorcing couples face within the court system (Family Issues 1-13-2012), especially when there are children involved, I received a heartfelt e-mail from a grandfather in tremendous pain over the demise of his son’s marriage and the subsequent custody battle over his beloved grandchild.
Dear Dr. Yael: My five-year-old son is a very difficult child. Most of the time he will not do what I ask of him, and he has a tantrum when he does not get his way. Interestingly enough, he is much more obedient when it is just the two of us, but if the other children are around he is very hard to manage. I know that as he gets older, things will become more difficult. Thus, I want to help him change his middos now.
11-year old Avi was just awarded a trip to visit his cousins in Detroit – because he didn’t get into trouble in school or fight with his siblings for one week. The prize his parents originally had in mind was a new speed bike, but when that failed to motivate him sufficiently, they searched for a more appealing incentive.
Mrs. D., the mother of two children under the age of four, came to see me – she was in the seventh month of her third pregnancy. This baby was unexpected. She had “difficulty” after her last pregnancy, and already tearful, she wanted me to get to know her now, so that I could help her later, when the depression hit. She was not sure she would be able to handle it all again.
Dear Gary, As Pesach approaches, I get worried because I want to have a great Yom Tov, and yet, every year, the seder ends in some sort of fighting and arguing. My husband wants the seder to be all about divrei Torah and so do I, but between the younger children (who we want to be awake for the whole seder) and guests, we somehow end up in stern looks and squabbles. I'm happy we have guests or else we'd probably start yelling at each other and even Eliyahu Hanavi would bail. I know everyone jokes about how tough Pesach is, but I can't see the humor anymore – and neither can my children. What can we do to manage a calm (I don't even wish for happy) seder? A Sad Mom