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January 19, 2017 / 21 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘David Pelcovitz’

Teaching Children To Act As Their Own Internet Filters

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Tens of thousands of Jews filled Citi Field in Queens on Sunday and heard from haredi Orthodox leaders that the Internet should be avoided in the home at all costs and used sparingly at work, and then only with a filter blocking content that could be damaging spiritually.

Debate as you will what some may see as draconian edicts to protect the Jewish community from moral corruption. But at the heart of the matter is a question that should concern us all: How do we keep our children safe on the Internet?

We know we cannot work around the Internet. Research from the Pew Foundation indicates that 54 percent of children say they go to Google first when they have a question, as opposed to 26 percent who say they go to a parent and 3 percent to a teacher. Rather, we must figure out how parents and teachers can make this important tool work safely and effectively for our kids.

The difficulty is that even the simple solutions are incredibly complicated. Powerful filters can block illicit images and material, but those filters often block out the good with the bad and limit far too much useful information. This solution has been discussed and debated on our own campus concerning Internet access in dormitories.

Some yeshivot have considered avoiding technology altogether and sticking with books and blackboards. But that would leave students without the digital competence required to succeed academically in college and beyond, not to mention that it would rob teachers of increasingly exciting and effective educational tools.

The only real answer is that as parents and teachers, we must instill in our children a strong value system based on Jewish morals and traditions that allows our children to become their own filters when exploring the Internet. That would be far more powerful than any protective software.

The onus is clearly on us because it seems children will listen to our rules, at least when it comes to the Internet. Only three in 10 young people reported to a Kaiser Foundation survey that they are given clear rules about how much time they may spend using a computer, watching TV or playing video games. The average child with no rules spends more than three hours per day on such media. Those who are given rules spend considerably less time.

Yeshiva high school students said they would be receptive to rules. More than half of those surveyed by researcher Debbie Fox, director of the Aleinu Family Resource Center, a program of the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, said that they would welcome more guidance from parents regarding Internet use.

These same students, in fact, said they would be far stricter with their own future adolescent children regarding responsible Internet use than their parents, and would monitor their children much more closely.

The dangers of the Internet are not limited to challenging content. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation study showed that about half of students in grades seven through 12 said they do their homework with media open that do not pertain to their task at hand. In other words, about 50 percent of middle and high school students are doing homework with divided attention. And while some kids may believe they are being more efficient, multitasking has been proven in adults to cause higher levels of stress and lower levels of efficiency.

While some kids can multitask well, it’s up to parents to actively determine if their children work more efficiently while doing so or while focusing on their work without interruption. Parents should collaborate with their children to test whether they are more efficient when not being interrupted or distracted, and then meter their background activity accordingly.

The greatest challenge of all, however, may be making sure that our kids completely separate from the Internet at times. According to the Pew Foundation, 75 percent of American teens prefer texting to in-person contact with friends. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that this generation’s empathy levels among adolescents are significantly lower than those of previous generations.

It may seem that adolescents in every generation feel isolated and tuned out at some point or another. But it turns out that their computer habits may be compounding the problem. Parents need to teach children that some of their relationships must include direct face-to-face interaction without the distraction of text messages and cell phone calls.

Dr. Eliezer Jones and Dr. David Pelcovitz

Mind Your Manners: Raising A Respectful And Considerate Child

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Have you ever noticed that when four year olds play baseball every member of the team runs to field the ball? Do you pay attention to the fact that toddlers are eager to help with clean up regardless of whether they made the mess? And that three year olds want to push the button on the elevator for every person who walks in? Or that children of all ages enjoy handing money to the cashier at the grocery store?

All of these examples are instances in which children naturally wish to help those around them – whether in a sports game or a mundane activity. Lawrence Shapiro, the author of How to Raise a Child with a High EQ: A Parents’ Guide to Emotional Intelligence, explains, “Kindness and consideration are part of your child’s genetic coding, but if these traits are not nourished, they disappear.”

The question for parents is how to nurture these “helping” traits in order to continue to raise your child’s emotional intelligence. In other words, how do you raise a mentsch?


Balance: The Key To Mentschlichkeit I recently heard Dr. David Pelcovitz speak about how we can raise our children to be mentschen. He touched on the idea of creating an environment of love and limits. What does he mean by love and limits? This is something that I see in my practice on a daily basis.

Love, in this case, is exactly what it sounds like. Most parents have unconditional love for their children. They provide them with food, shelter, enrichment, and attention (just to mention a few!). Knowing that a parent loves them unconditionally is an important part of self-esteem building for children. The parents become “home base,” a safe haven in which they know they will always be accepted.

All children need rules and routines to govern their lives. Some limits include bedtimes, junk food regulations, and no playing until after homework. Each house has different rules and guidelines.

These help impose order and schedule into children’s lives. They help them understand the world around them through specific limitation. These limits also help prepare children for the idea that there are other considerations in the world besides their own.

All Love, No Limits But what happens when children are brought up in a home with unconditional love and no limits? Often, these children will not have the safeguards in place to teach them that they are not the center of the universe. They will grow up believing that the rules do not apply to them. After all, in many cases, they have never heard the word “no” in the home.

In the end, children who grow up with no limits will often end up selfish and egocentric. As opposed to healthy self-esteem, these children will grow up with inflated senses of self. Ultimately, when faced with a negative response, children brought up without limits will be unsure how to function.

All Limits, No Love On the flip side, a home that emphasizes limits, but does not have space for unconditional love creates a different set of problems. These children might have trouble building their self-esteem because they do not have a secure space to start from. While they are used to hearing the word “no” when they make extravagant requests, they do not feel comfortable in their own skin.

Eventually, with too many limits and not a lot of love, children may become angry and rebel. Without a strong connection to the family unit, these children may not feel that there is a reason to follow their parents’ directions.

Weighing the Scales With the right combination of love and limits, children can grow and develop ethical and moral character. That combination is perhaps the most important element in raising a mentsch. However, if you are looking for specific hands on ways to instill menschlichkeit, take a look at some of the following suggestions:

Rifka Schonfeld

Study Examines State Of Orthodox Marriage

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

   The state of marriage in the Orthodox community is hard to gauge, but the Orthodox Union, in alliance with the Aleinu Family Resource Center, took up the challenge last year by engineering an online survey taken by thousands of married observant Jews.


   Data collected by the responses to the questionnaire include the Orthodox world’s overall level of marital satisfaction, concerns with regard to health and fertility issues, and the toll familial stress can exact on each spouse’s quality of life. The results, parsed by the OTX research and consulting firm, ranged from predictable to surprising.


   At last week’s unveiling of the study’s conclusions, Dr. Eliezer Schnall, an assistant professor of psychology at Yeshiva College, began with the good news: “Seventy-two percent of men and 74 percent of women rated the status of their marriages as very good or excellent,” he said, adding that “almost 80 percent of our respondents say their spouses meet their expectations, with a similar number reporting that they would marry their partner again if the clocks were ‘turned back.’ ”


   Schnall noted that “academic research suggests the relative strength of marriages in the observant community is traceable to a positive coupling of noble religious ideals with a healthy set of family values.”


   The sampling also indicates that a significant number of couples report some measure of discontent with their relationships after having been married for several years.


   “[It resembles] a U-shaped curve, where satisfaction dips and dips, eventually rising again for those couples who remain married for several decades,” said Schnall.


   “Debra Umberson, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, recently wrote that the academic world took note of this roller-coaster-like continuum of marital life in the 1950s, when it was concluded that a marriage’s quality diminishes after the birth of the first child, and does not begin to improve until children leave the parental home.”



Orthodox Union Executive Vice President Rabbi Steven Weil responds to a reporter’s question at the press briefing on the OU survey of Orthodox marriages.


   Debbie Fox, director of the Aleinu Family Resource Center, said that “there seems to be five key points of friction between spouses that develop [during particularly straining periods of a] marriage: problems with communication, a lack of quality time spent with one another, financial stresses, religious conflicts, and issues with intimacy.”


   “With this knowledge in hand,” she said, “it really is about what we can do to make sure that the [stressors] are better handled by helping people gain insight into how to best deal with them, thereby leading to an increase in overall marital happiness.”


   A significant red flag raised by the survey is “the affliction of ‘affluenza’; a seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon which refers to the over-representation of financially well-off families who have children at high risk of involving themselves in deviant behavior patterns,” said Dr. David Pelcovitz, a professor of psychology at the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish education.


   Pelcovitz expressed the belief that the emergence of delinquent offspring will almost certainly add to any existing strife between a husband and wife.


   “The anomaly of the ‘wealthy young derelict,'” he said, “has been studied by Dr. Suniya S. Luthar, a professor of psychology and education at Columbia University. Dr. Luthar posits that a preventative solution to the issue of delinquency may rest in not over-pressuring one’s children to bring home straight A’s, really being present for one’s kids…and teaching our youth the intangible benefits they will gain by devoting some of their time to helping others.”


   Frank Buchweitz, the OU’s director of community services, summed up the marriage survey’s core purpose by expressing his hope that its results will serve a vital step in guiding the Orthodox community to “… proactively use new methods to prevent irreconcilable spousal conflicts from ever arising. Just as we teach mathematics and other subjects of import in our schools, marital guidance should be [offered to the younger generation] too; you’re not buying a used car when seeking a prospective spouse.”

Eli Perlow

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/community/study-examines-state-of-orthodox-marriage/2010/01/20/

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