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November 28, 2014 / 6 Kislev, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Names Withheld’

Changing Schools (Part II)

Thursday, December 27th, 2007

Our 12-year-old son is not doing well in his 7th grade local yeshiva class.

We are considering moving him to another local yeshiva in mid-year, as things are rapidly deteriorating. We are not asking for specific advice, as you do not know him or us. But can you share with us what questions to ask and answers to give when making this difficult decision?

Names Withheld

Rabbi Horowitz Responds

Two weeks ago, we discussed the following questions parents ought to explore before making the decision to switch their child’s school setting:

Which mechanech (educator) knows my child best? Which rav knows our family best?

This week, we will talk about the following:

Have we explored all possible reasons for our son’s lack of success in the current setting? Is the difficulty he is experiencing a one-year phenomenon or does it follow a pattern of poor performance over a number of years?

There are many reasons why a child underachieves in a particular school setting. But they can be broken down to three basic categories: The shortcomings of the school he is currently attending, educational or social challenges that he may have, and poor chemistry between him (and family) and the current school.

I would encourage you to begin by focusing on the second of the aforementioned points, namely your child’s learning and social profile. That component will help you address the other two segments more easily. This is because it is not uncommon for parents to switch their child’s school, only to find out later that the issues that complicated their child’s experience in the initial school followed him/her to the new setting. (A similar pattern often manifests itself with “retention” – having an underachieving child repeat a particular grade, hoping things will improve in the next round. Recent studies indicate that in a significant percentage of these cases, the problems are merely ignored and not solved at all.)

Start by thinking back to the past few years of your son’s school experience and ask yourselves if there were any signs of the problems he is currently having. Keep in mind that children, like adults, rarely change their learning styles and/or personality traits. We hope to improve the weaker points of our overall temperament – but our DNA doesn’t change.

I encourage you to explore the learning profile of your son in order to better understand the challenges he is facing this year. Is he a visual, auditory or textual learner? (Keep in mind that I only addressed the main learning patterns despite there being other, lesser- known styles such as kinesthetic learners.) Does he have attention issues such as ADD? Does he have impulse control challenges? (Please visit my website, www.rabbihorowitz.com, to review three columns I wrote on learning profiles named “Different Strokes” along with three columns on ADD.)

Answering all of these questions will help you understand your son better, as you try engaging in a forensic analysis of what is really going wrong this year. Having this information will also help you develop the “medical records” (see previous column) you can share with individuals whose advice you may seek in deciding if you ought to switch schools.

Finally, I would strongly suggest that you get an educational evaluation from a credentialed professional. Most school districts in the United States offer free educational/psychological assessments of students – including those who attend non-public schools. Your child’s principal or the director of special services can probably direct you to the appropriate office to arrange for an evaluation. If you find it difficult to access district services, consider contacting Mrs. Leah Steinberg, director of Agudath Israel’s Project LEARN (Limud Education Advocacy and Referral Network). LEARN helps parents navigate the path from determining that their child has special education needs to obtaining the services they are legally entitled to. Mrs. Steinberg can be contacted at 212-797-9000 x 325, or via e-mail at lsteinberg@thejnet.com.

Part III: More questions: How well does our child adjust to change? Are we truly open to exploring the way we parent our children?

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder andmenahel of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey,and the founder and director of Agudath Israel’s Project Y.E.S.To purchase Rabbi Horowitz’s D’var Torah sefer, Growing With the Parshah, or his popular parenting tapesand CDs (including his 2-CD set on “Raising your Adolescent Children”) please visit www.rabbihorowitz.com, e-mail udi528@aol.com or call 845-352-7100 x 133.

Changing Schools (Part I)

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Asking the Right Questions:

Our 12-year-old son is not doing well in his 7th grade local yeshiva class.

We are considering moving him to another local yeshiva in mid-year, as things are rapidly deteriorating. We are not asking for specific advice, as you do not know him or us. But can you share with us what questions to ask and answers to give when making this difficult decision?

Names Withheld

Rabbi Horowitz Responds

Note to readers: This subject requires a series of columns, due to the high-stakes nature of the school placement/change issue, and the large number of parents who are confronted with making these difficult decisions. How prevalent are these questions? Over the past decade, the percentage of calls to our Project YES office dealing with school placement issues has consistently hovered around 40 percent. This means that four of 10 callers were requesting assistance with school placements for their children.

I hope you find these columns helpful.

* * *

I like the way you framed the issue by asking me to provide you with a list of questions. This will help you make the call yourselves rather than having me make it for you. I believe it is healthiest for parents – and parents alone – to be making these types of da’as Torah decisions. Thus, in the end, it is your decision to make – as you alone will need to live with the consequences.

I always encourage parents to discuss substantive matters with da’as Torah. However, I have found that there is a great deal of confusion as to the difference between an eitzah (advice), a p’sak (Halachic ruling) and a brachah (blessing). (I encourage you to visit my website, www.rabbihorowitz.com, and read my “Answers About Questions” column for more details on this complex and often misunderstood issue.)

As per your request, here are some questions. I’ll add some suggestions afterward.

1. Which mechanech (educator) knows my child best?

2. Which rav knows our family best?

I think these are, by far, the most important questions for you to explore. Most parents in your predicament often look for high-profile individuals who do not know their children – such as leading roshei yeshiva, rabbanim or mechanchim – to help them decide whether or not to switch schools and which school to switch to if a change is to be made.

However, I have found that regardless of their wisdom, tzidkus (piety) or stature people who do not know your son and/or your family simply cannot and should not be asked to give you substantive advice regarding such a complex matter like changing your son’s school placement. That would be like going to a renowned heart surgeon and asking him for medical advice (whether to operate) without giving him your medical records.

If that individual has the time to do everything necessary to get the “medical records” of your son, by all means take advantage of the opportunity. But keep in mind that the higher the profile of the person you are going to, the more likely it is that there are incredible demands on his time. Trust me, you do not need an overworked, busy person right now. Remember that getting the “medical records” would mean receiving input from the current rebbe/teacher, inquiring about your child’s personality and current social interaction, reading any educational testing you’ve done, and reviewing report cards. You get the picture.

If you have access to a leading rosh yeshiva, rav or mechanech, you will be far better served doing all your homework first and then, armed with all relevant information, consulting with him as per your final decision.

With that in mind, I suggest that you look for one of the following: 1) a current or former rebbe; 2) the principal (if you are comfortable letting him know at this stage that you are considering a school change); 3) your son’s summer camp rebbe or learning director; 4) your shul’s rav; or 5) an educator who lives on your block.

Picture the concentric circles of a bull’s-eye, and think of your son as being in the middle of those circles. Whoever is in the center of his life is best suited to give you the help you need.

More questions in Part II.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and the founder and director of Agudath Israel’s Project Y.E.S. To purchase Rabbi Horowitz’s D’var Torah sefer, “Growing With the Parsha,”or his popular parenting tapes and CDs (including his 2-CD set on “Raising your Adolescent Children”) please visit www.rabbihorowitz.com, e-mail udi528@aol.com or call 845-352-7100 x 133.

Negotiating With Our Teenager: Understanding The Dynamics Of ‘The Deal’ (Part II)

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Dear Rabbi Horowitz:

Our eldest child is in 10th grade at a local Bais Yaakov. She is doing well in school and is generally well-behaved at home. However, over the past year or so, everything we tell or ask her becomes a full-scale negotiating session. It doesn’t make a difference what the issue is – curfew, when to do her homework, when to clean her room, etc. It is draining our energy and eroding our relationship with her.

Here are our questions:

1. Is this normal?

2. Isn’t it disrespectful for children to challenge their parents like this? Neither of us thinks we did this to our parents.

3. Do you have any practical suggestions for us?

Names Withheld

Rabbi Horowitz Responds (Continued)

Two weeks ago we discussed the notion of your need as parents to nourish your self-esteem and realize that when your daughter negotiates with you she is, in a roundabout manner, acknowledging your authority. We also noted that you would be in the best position to effectively parent your child when you are confident, comfortable, and in control. That means speaking calmly and not lashing out verbally, and developing an aura of tranquility.

As for the practical tips you asked for, here are some techniques that you may wish to share with your teenage daughter – explaining to her that she is far more likely to achieve a satisfactory response when doing so. Another way to pose this would be to establish these factors as “ground rules for negotiation” in your home. (These two approaches are different. The first is more progressive, the second more authoritative. Both are okay, so choose the one that suits you better.)

Negotiating 1.0:

1. A respectful tone must be maintained (no negotiation under fire).

2. Your daughter should share with you the reason that she finds it difficult to fulfill your request.

3. She should make a “counteroffer.”

4. Assign a “value” for how important this is to her.

Here are some details for each of these:

1. A respectful tone must be maintained (no negotiation under fire).

This simply means that in order for your daughter to have her request listened to, she must present it in a way that is respectful to you. Please remember to keep calm if she is hostile or emotional. Yelling back shows you are not in control.

Keep replaying this mantra in your mind:

· I am the adult in this discussion.

· I am in charge.

· I need to demonstrate leadership and not yell back.

If this doesn’t work for you, tell your daughter that you are upset and need a few minutes to think clearly. You will get valuable time to reflect, and will also be exhibiting good habits to your daughter.

The best way to stop your daughter from yelling is to calmly say that you cannot respond to her when she is that upset. Suggest that she take a timeout and try again later in a more respectful manner.

When she does come back, do not begin the conversation by discussing her previous outburst. Leave that for the end of your talk or, better yet, for later that day. You should suggest that she apologize, without serious discussions about the temper tantrum – as that will then become the main event and distract from the conversation at hand.

2. Your daughter should share with you the reason that she finds it difficult to fulfill your request.

Explain to her that this will help you take her request more seriously. “Can I stay out until 11 p.m., since all my friends are leaving at that time?” is far more explanatory and reasonable than “Can I stay out until 11 p.m.?” As a parent, it is important to understand how important peer pressure is at this stage in your teenager’s life. Please don’t tell her not to care what her friends think of her. That is one surefire way to create a chasm between you and her.

3. She should make a “counteroffer.”

If your daughter is unhappy with your 10 p.m. curfew, she should say, “I’d like my curfew to be 11 p.m., please.” She should not say, “I can’t do that” or “No way.”

This value, that she should take the position of a reasonable adult and make you a counteroffer, is important to teach her.

4. Assign a “value” for how important this is to her.

In my recent column, “Is Everything A 10?” (http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=895&ThisGroup_ID=238&ID=Newest&Type=Article), I wrote a paragraph about the concept of having children express the (relative) importance of things to them by assigning them values. Here is that text:

One of the techniques I have found most helpful when mediating disputes between rebellious adolescents and their parents is to give the teenager six or eight index cards and ask him or her to jot down a request or concession that he or she would like his or her parents to grant on each of the cards. Then I ask the teen to stack the index cards in priority order, with the most important request on top. Finally, I have the teen assign a value from 1-10 for each of those requests, with 10 denoting something that he or she would consider of paramount significance and 1 representing a matter that is not terribly important.

I then hand a similar number of index cards to the parents of the adolescent and ask them to do likewise. And while this exercise is certainly not a miraculous cure for friction between teens and their parents, it is often helpful in establishing healthy dialogue and effective problem solving in a strained relationship.

In a similar vein, it may be helpful for your daughter to inform you how important this request is to her on a scale of 1-10.

One final point:

There are three possible outcomes. You may agree with her, meet her halfway, or you may need to stick to your guns and deny her request outright. If and when you are flat-out sticking to your guns, be sure to validate her feelings and let her know that you took her request seriously. Explain to her that you, too, have things that are a “10″ to you.

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey, and the founder and director of Agudath Israel’s Project Y.E.S. To purchase Rabbi Horowitz’s D’var Torah sefer, Growing With the Parsha, or his popular parenting tapes and CDs (including his 2-CD set on “Raising your Adolescent Children”), please visit www.rabbihorowitz.com, e-mail udi528@aol.com or call 845-352-7100 x 133.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/negotiating-with-our-teenager-understanding-the-dynamics-of-the-deal-part-ii/2007/11/14/

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