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October 22, 2014 / 28 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Boruch Hashem’

Eight Ways To Stop Yelling At Your Kids

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Many parents admit they yell too much, but do not know how to avoid exploding when irritated. It takes effort and discipline to defeat any addiction, whether it’s overeating or cigarette smoking and the screaming addiction is no different. Thankfully, when we really want to grow spiritually, we are given Heavenly guidance.

To get their needs satisfied, children have only five tactics: get mad, bad, sad, sick or crazy. It is up to parents to be role models and show them more mature ways to cope with life’s frustrations and losses. The following will help:

1. Get adequate sleep. People are more irritable and aggressive when sleep-deprived. With less than seven hours sleep, the body produces stress hormones that cause you to be agitated and make it difficult to control your harmful impulses.

2. Avoid junk foods. Sugar gives a short-term lift, but robs the body of essential B vitamins, weakening the nervous system. More than 150 mg. of caffeine a day (about 2 cups of coffee) reduces calcium, which is nature’s tranquilizer.

3. Dispute the toxic beliefs. Violence feeds on lies, like:

“Screaming reduces stress by letting off steam. So it’s really a good thing to scream at them.”

“Parenting tips are for normal children; mine are not normal; they are wild, defective and bad.”

“Screaming is the only way to get them to behave.”

“I can’t help it. They make me scream. I can’t control myself when I’m nervous.”

“Wimpy parents who don’t hit end up with spoiled brats who walk all over them.”

“I got hit and it didn’t harm me.”

Replace these beliefs with spiritual truths:

“They’ll mimic my behavior, leading to more abuse. Screaming is ona’as devarim, as destructive as eating traif.”

“Every act of patience will come back ten-fold when they are older! If I scream, I teach my children that screaming is the way to solve problems. I can train them to be disciplined only if I am disciplined.”

“If I were given $1million each time I refused to yell, I wouldn’t yell! In fact, I’d beg them to misbehave so that I could earn more. This proves that I can be disciplined if I focus on spiritual rewards.”

“I can be firm and set limits without violence.”

“It did harm me! That’s why I lack self-control today and have such low self-esteem!”

4. Thank them for irritating you. Critical parents send the message that, “Messes and mistakes are dangerous.” The thought of danger produces stress hormones that weaken the nervous system, making it more difficult to be disciplined. Train yourself to think, “My children are my personal trainers. All irritations are Hashem’s way of forcing me to be self-disciplined.” Practice in your imagination. Imagine a child misbehaving, like mashing banana into his hair, hitting a sibling or being insolent. Imagine saying, “Thank you for giving me another opportunity to improve my middos.” It sounds crazy, but it works! The words push you out of your lower brain and into your upper brain.

5. Separate yourself from the child. If you feel like you are a nuclear reactor about to spew toxic radioactivity, get away. Do not talk, as you are likely to say things you will regret. Go to another room, close the door and take slow deep breaths until you are calm.

6. Recognize trivialities. You can hear about a plane crash, God forbid, and feel nothing, yet get frantic because the floor is filthy. Ask yourself is it ikar or tafel?

Ikar refers to events which are life-changing, truly dangerous or of lasting significance, such as birth, death, marriage, major illness, abuse, etc.

Tafel refers to events that are uncomfortable, inconvenient and irritating, but with no lasting scars: minor physical pain, mood swings, delays, cancellations, traffic, things that break, wear out, fade, get stained or lost, shrink, appliances that break-down, clothing issues (unless it’s immodest), food issues (cold/hot, salty/spicy, fancy/plain, etc.), appearance (weight, hair, etc.), social snubs and slights to one’s honor, minor monetary losses and minor embarrassments.

Most of life’s irritations and frustrations are trivialities, although your initial response may be, “This is awful! I can’t stand it!” Saying the word “triviality” signals your brain to “work it down” and avoid the drama, anger, blame, guilt and fear which do nothing but elevate cholesterol level, raise blood pressure and create more inner anguish. Saying “triviality”does not mean that we ignore the problem, but that we handle it as calmly and as effectively as possible.

To help keep trivialities in the realm of tafel, think of a ruler with calibrations from 1 to 10, with 10 a true disaster and anything in the area of 1 to 5 as a triviality. Use the ruler to measure your level of sadness, frustration, anger, etc. Remember, trivialities often don’t feel trivial at first. Take 3 seconds to measure. And never tell others that their “10″ is only a “1.” This is insulting and alienating. For example, when my daughter complained that her son, almost three, is not yet toilet trained, I wanted to say, ‘It’s a triviality.’ Boruch Hashem, I didn’t! For her, it is a major event, as it affects whether he will be accepted into a cheder and impacts on her self-esteem as a mother. I did say that anger will make him more tense and delay the training process. And I showed her a one-day training plan.

Do not trivialize issues affecting your mental or emotional well-being:

“My eight year old told me that his teacher slapped him for not having his finger on the word. Some parents might ignore this behavior, but I was determined to speak up about it.”

Just as we avoid bal tashchis, not wasting food or damaging a physical object for no reason, we must try not waste our emotional energy on anything that is not eternal. “I saw the effect of teaching my children to recognize trivialities. My ten year old got a pair of gold earrings for her birthday and lost one within a week. Yet she was able to say, ‘It felt like a 10, but I know it’s really a triviality.’ I hugged her and told her that this was a big victory.”

Put up signs on the fridge that say: “Material losses are trivialities. We fix or forget it. We do not get upset about anything that has no eternal value.”

7. Do not extrapolate into the future. Often, what bothers us most is not what the child is doing now but our fear of how it will affect his future:

“If he’s wetting the bed now, it means he’s a total failure.”

“If she’s such a slob now, she’ll never get a shidduch, and if she does, she’ll be a terrible wife.”

“If he’s not getting good marks now, he’ll be a total failure as a human being.”

Put the future in a box labeled “Hashem’s business.” Our business is helping them develop good middos right now. We don’t know when the seeds we plant will sprout.

8. Reward good behavior. Many mothers hate good-behavior charts and prizes, but children need to see tangible rewards as much as adults need a paycheck. Talk the victory language even if you are feeling down – and especially when you are feeling down! Children need love most when they are least lovable. And we do, too!

Spiritual tests don’t look like Mount Sinai experiences with thunder and lighting and major miracles. The smallest irritation is an opportunity to develop our “soul powers”: kindness, self-control, compassion, determination, gratitude, humility, self-sacrifice and faith. Think of which middos you might use when:

The baby-sitter doesn’t show up: ______________

Your child loses his library book: _____________

Your child flunks a test: ________________

Your child is chutzpadik: ________________

Your child whines, “She hit me”: __________________

The children are fighting again: ___________________

Your child doesn’t want to get up in the morning: _____________

Be grateful for the opportunity to come closer to Hashem by working on your middos.

“I often told my children that the harder it is to do a mitzvah, the bigger the reward. It’s like firecrackers going off in shomayim [heaven]. One day, my seven-year-old said, ‘Since you told us about the firecrackers in shomayim, I now want to do only mitzvos the whole time.’ Then he gave me $1.00 from his own money for tzdakah.”

Have in mind at all times that your acts of self-control, usually unseen and unappreciated by anyone other than G-d, will be rewarded!

My KIDS TOOL KIT is now available. It contains rulers to measure difficulties, points to encourage behavioral change, COPING CARDS to transform pain into spiritual victories and other helpful tools for parents. Call Perl Abromowitz, 718-640-1878. Or order from www.miriamadahan.com or emett@netvision.net.il.

Pesach Cleaning… Early!

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Michal jumped up from the park bench. “I really must go,” she exclaimed, making a big production of looking at her watch. “See you, gals.”
 
That’s strange, Shoshi mused, I thought Michal said she had no particular plans today. She turned her gaze from Michal’s quickly retreating figure in time to see Ruti approaching with her stroller. Ahh, that explained it.
 
“Hello, Ruti,” Shoshi said, not without trepidation. “Where’s Dani?”
 
“He’s in playgroup. I decided I need my mornings now, you know.”
 
Shoshi knew. She just had to stop Ruti before it would be too -
 
“Shevat is here!” Ruti burst out joyfully. “You know what that means. Time to start Pesach cleaning!”
 
Chana rolled her eyes. “Cut it out, Ruti. We were all enjoying ourselves before you came. We have a good two months before Pesach; let’s spend them in peace.”
 
“Now there’s where you’re wrong, Chana,” Ruti began. Shoshi practically knew the coming conversation by heart. Every year Ruti would regale them with advice and suggestions for Pesach cleaning, which they ignored. “I just love to clean for Pesach! It’s a mitzvah that comes only once a year.”
 
“Years ago, when I was first married, I started cleaning for Pesach the day after Purim, and thought I was organized.” Ruti looked earnestly at Chana and Shoshi. “There I’d be at 2:00 in the morning, scrubbing kitchen cabinets, eyes closing, falling off my feet, wondering how to function the next day.  I thought that all Jewish women stayed up until strange hours, and that complaining about Pesach cleaning was part of life. Boruch Hashem, I met a neighbor who changed my life. She said the trick is to start Pesach cleaning early, in Shevat, and do a little each day. Start with one drawer far from the kitchen, in the bedroom, for example. Gradually get closer to the kitchen as Pesach gets nearer.”
 
“Uh, Ruti, isn’t it time to get Dani?” Shoshi asked. Ruti glanced at her watch, then reluctantly steered her stroller out of the park.
 
When Shoshi arrived home and tucked Dovid in for a nap, she realized she had a good hour until the other children came home. Maybe she’d actually clean out a drawer.  She drifted to the bedroom, and could hear in her mind Ruti’s instructions from last year.
 
“Start from the top and work your way down,” she’d said. “This way, any crumbs won’t get into what you’ve already cleaned.” Shoshi removed the first drawer from the dresser and dumped out the contents. She wiped out the little dust and unidentifiable specks, and neatly refilled the drawer. The next drawer held sweaters and turtlenecks. Ruti’s voice echoed in Shoshi’s head. “As long as you’re going through your things, get rid of what you no longer wear.” Here was a teal-colored silk sweater Shoshi bought ages ago. Ever since bleach spilled on it, she’d stopped wearing it. The bleach spots meant she couldn’t pass it on to anyone either, so into the “garbage” pile!
 
The next day, Ruti was expounding on “Pesach Cleaning Made Organized” when her cell phone rang. “Hello? Yes oy, I’ll get him now.” Ruti closed her phone and explained, “It’s Dani’s playgroup. He just threw up. Hope it’s just a virus.” She hurried out of the park towards the playgroup. The other ladies stifled their sighs of relief at Ruti’s departure.
 
That evening after the children went to bed, Shoshi found she could squeeze in an hour of cleaning before tackling the dishes. This is kind of relaxing, she thought to herself, as she sifted through the items in the last drawer. I can’t believe it – I never sent my parents or in-laws the photos from Dovid’s last birthday! I’m actually enjoying myself, but, Shoshi stubbornly decided, I’m sure not going to tell Ruti about it!
 
The next week, Ruti didn’t show up at the park. Concerned, Shoshi called to ask how Dani was. “He’s running around,” Ruti answered. “I’m keeping him home a drop longer so he won’t get the other kids sick, though.”
 
“Anything you need?” asked Shoshi.
 
“Well, Dani’s getting tired of his toys. You have some we can borrow?”
 
That afternoon, Shoshi dropped by with Lego and some toy airplanes for Dani. Ruti opened the door. “Come in. Thanks so much.” Wow, Shoshi thought, this apartment is immaculate. The afternoon light streamed in through the spotless windows and accentuated the polished floor. The framed pictures on the wall were without a particle of dust. Ruti noticed Shoshi’s gaze wandering around. “I take pride in a clean apartment,” she said simply, “and it also makes it a lot easier to clean for Pesach.” Dani ran in from the kitchen to see who arrived. He had Ruti’s golden brown skin and dark eyes, and was full of energy. He was thrilled to have something new to play with, and asked, “Ima, where can I play with these?”
 
“In your room, sweetie. I’ll unlock it,” Ruti said. “Once I finish a room for Pesach,” she explained to Shoshi, “I lock it so it stays chometz-free without me constantly screaming at the children to stay out. It’s important to me to have a calm house. Before bedtime, I make sure the children have cleaned themselves off, and then I unlock the room.”
 
Shoshi was awed. When she went home, she tackled her closet. When was the last time that I wore these sheva brochos outfits? They’re no longer my size and they never will be, either. She transferred them into a “give away” bag, and surveyed the closet with satisfaction. Now I have room to see what I do have.
 
Two days later, Ruti was back at the park. She retuned the toys, again expressing her thanks. Shoshi peeked into the bag. The toys looked in better condition than before and had a smell of disinfectant. Ruti probably enjoyed cleaning the toys even more than Dani liked playing with them, Shoshi thought wryly.
 
“Peach cleaning is a matter of scheduling,” Ruti announced. “I clean in the mornings when most of the children aren’t around, and today I started the girls’ room. When they’ll be older, I’ll expect them to pitch in, but for now, it’s up to me.”
 
That afternoon, Shoshi made time to start her girls’ room. When her daughter brought home a ‘This Room is Clean for Pesach’ sign from pre-school, Shoshi proudly hung it up. It’s almost clean for Pesach, she told herself. At least I started.
 
The next day, Michal looked at Ruti suspiciously. “Boy, you look tired, Ruti. You’re overdoing it with the cleaning.”
 
Ruti straightened. “I know how to pace myself. It’s ladies who leave everything for the last minute who end up exhausted. What kind of impression does it makes on their children? Seeing their mother slaving away, drained of energy, and short tempered – this is simcha shel mitzvah?”
 
            The following week while Dovid was sleeping, Shoshi tiptoed into his room, and quietly went through his shelves. Some ‘artwork’ she put into a pile for grandparents; the rest she stuffed into the garbage. The fewer things there are, the easier it is to clean. The women spent less time on the park benches, as Pesach cleaning began in earnest for those who hadn’t started early. Shoshi was passing by Ruti’s apartment one day, and decided to drop in. She knocked, then noticed that the door was ajar. “Come in!” she heard, and pushed the door open.
 
Shoshi stopped in her tracks and her jaw dropped. Was this Ruti’s apartment? The living room was dark, even gloomy, and the windows were obscured with fingerprints and magic marker. The pictures hung crookedly, and the table was buried under papers, shoes, plastic bags, and pizza crusts. Shoshi looked for Ruti, and saw her huddled on the sofa, piles of laundry nearby.
 
“Ruti, are you OK?” Shoshi asked worriedly.
 
“I’m so embarrassed,” Ruti whimpered, tears trickling. “I know the place is such a wreck.”
 
“Forget how it looks, what’s with you?
 
“Hepatitis,” she mumbled. “I’m so sick and have no energy.”
 
Shoshi remembered Dani throwing up. “You got it from Dani, right?”
 
“Yeah, and he must’ve gotten it from the playgroup.”
 

“But when I came by with the toys, he was running around and looked fine.”

“Children get over it fast, Boruch Hashem. I kept him home so he wouldn’t infect the other kids, not because he needed it.” Ruti sighed. “I’m so behind in my cleaning I don’t know what to do. Serves me right for monopolizing the conversation about Pesach cleaning. No one ever listens to me anyway.”
 
Shoshi stroked Ruti’s arm. “Don’t cry. Actually, I’ve been using your ideas and it’s been my most relaxed, easiest Pesach cleaning ever. I enjoyed sorting through things and was calm, too.”
 
Ruti brightened up. “Really? You know, when I started to feel sick, I pushed myself to keep going out. I felt sicker inside, the baby still wanted his daily outing, and I wanted to inspire you ladies to clean. Why didn’t anyone tell me that I was making an impression on them?”
 
Shoshi tried to be tactful. “Maybe next time you could be a little more, uh, gentle about urging us to start cleaning early.”
 
Ruti nodded thoughtfully. “But what am I going to do about Pesach cleaning? I only have the living room and kitchen left. My husband suggested a cleaning lady, but I’m too mortified to have anyone see what a disaster the place is.”
 

            “I know!” Shoshi beamed. “Hire Bochurim to help. They won’t even notice how it looks!” And they both laughed.

Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 11/10/06

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories by e-mail to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215.

To all women, men or children who feel that they are at the end of their ropes, please consider joining a support group, or forming one.

Anyone wishing to make a contribution to help agunot, please send your tax deductible contribution to The Jewish Press Foundation.

Checks must be clearly specified to help agunot. Please make sure to include that information if that is the purpose of your contribution, because this is just one of the many worthwhile causes helped by this foundation.

* * * * *

Readers React To ‘A Disappointed Husband’ (Chronicles 9-29) (Part 1)

Dear Rachel,

I was very surprised when I read your answer to the husband who is turned off by the way his wife looks. I am a married woman with two children, and while I know it’s easier than caring for five children, I take care of myself and expect my husband to take care of himself too. “Disappointed” is not asking for her to look like a supermodel, but to at least lose some weight and put herself together. Every Shalom Bayis class that I have ever attended has discussed the need for both the husband and wife to maintain themselves and look good for their spouse. The fact that she is in the same snood and robe every day shows a lack of caring for her husband.

I work outside the home full time and never put on a robe when I get home. On Friday night I always get dressed to honor the Shabbos and my husband. How hard is it to put on a nice shirt and skirt as opposed to a robe to put yourself together for your husband? By the same token my husband puts himself together and makes sure to keep his weight in check.

While men should not be looking at other women, the fact is that he does work in the business world and will see well-dressed, pretty women. Her children are not babies (he mentioned they are of camp age), and therefore the baby weight excuse is long gone. Taking care of oneself is the Torah way. She should make it a priority to cook healthy meals and to make regular exercise a part of her life. There are many ways to work in some exercise without expensive gym memberships. I go bike riding with my kids, take walks around the neighborhood with friends and work out to videos right in my own home. All it takes is 30 minutes, three or four times a week to make a change in her life. I am sure that her husband would watch the kids for a half hour while she exercised.

I am married for over 17 years, and my husband is still very attracted to me and does not have the need to look elsewhere. He has what he needs right at home.

Boruch Hashem, happily married

Dear Happy,

Good for you! You obviously have what it takes to keep yourself (and your marital union) in top form. As life would have it, however, different circumstances call for different strategies. (Read the letter that follows)

In truth, we have really no way of knowing what transpired between Disappointed Husband and his wife all this time. An ongoing lack of attention/communication, for instance, may have contributed to their current unfortunate situation.

What is certain is that both man and woman have an obligation to take care of themselves, and that husband and wife are to have a genuine concern for one another. (When a woman feels loved and appreciated by her man, she will more likely take steps to please him.)

Past columns have addressed the need for wives to look after themselves (i.e., Chronicle of 8-4). Even the response you refer to alludes to a wife’s responsibility in self-maintenance. To quote from my reply, “By neglecting to maintain an attractive appearance for her husband, she runs the risk of having him drift away, mentally (if not physically as well).”

Let us all exert every effort to motivate our partners to feel and look their best – and suppress the inclination to sit in judgment of another in whose shoes we have not walked.

P.S. A becoming Shabbos/YomTov robe can be as fitting to the occasion as a “nice shirt and skirt.” It is but a matter of personal preference and comfort.

Dear Rachel,

I would like to add a few points to the letter by a Disappointed Husband (Chronicle 9-29), which I think you answered well. I am a fat woman – obese through no fault of my own (medical problems). However, we did go through a very difficult time accepting it. We revamped our marriage by doing our utmost to respect one another. I have limited ability to do household chores. My husband helps out and does so gladly because I try to keep him happy.

If all you care about is having a body for a wife, I pity you. Look how long it took you to realize that your wife, as you say, is neglecting herself. Where were you before you went on holiday? Have you not been neglecting her?

Do one thing and say one thing every day to make your wife feel good. She will be surprised to begin with, but I am sure she will begin to try and reciprocate.

Suggestion: Try to obtain Rebbetzin Braunstein’s tapes on Shalom Bayis.

Good Luck in the New Year

Dear Good,

You have taken your G-d-given challenge and have met it head on with fortitude and intelligence. Instead of wallowing in self-pity and wishful thinking, you have zeroed in on the real test of true love: appreciating and treasuring the beauty within. May you and your husband grow old together and continue to focus on the good things in life conferred upon you by the Ribono Shel Olam.

Thank you both for your wonderful tips and pointers in how to improve the quality of married life.

Confidential to Besta Shvesta: May you continue your long-standing tradition of dressing your best in honor of Shabbos to please your husband (while exercising your good-natured tolerance for the robe wearers who grace your table) – for many more years to come. Happy Birthday!!

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/chronicles-of-crises/chronicles-of-crises-in-our-communities-41/2006/11/08/

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