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What I'm telling my kids about Israel
Remember the story of Purim when our enemies wanted to annihilate our nation? By Divine Providence Esther was the queen of Persia and planned to meet with the king to save the Jewish people. But before the great miracles, things seemed bleak and the people were afraid, and so Mordechai responded to the call of the hour by calling a gathering. It was a gathering for children - to spent time sharing words of Torah and prayer.
Now, too, all of us have been praying for Am Yisrael. We know that Israel is "eretz asher tamid eini Hashem elokecha bo..." - a land that Hashem is guarding always. At the same time we feel the need for protection, strength and true peace.
Every person’s prayers and deeds make a difference, but the words and deeds of children are extra special. “Mipi Olelim Veyonkim Yisadeta Oz” - "From the mouths of children and infants you have ordained strength." What you do is very powerful.
* When saying Shema at night, say an extra prayer for our brothers and sisters in Israel.
* Say a chapter of Tehilim at every opportunity – even while you're in the car, playing or in the kitchen. (Psalm 20 is traditionally said in times of distress.)
* Give even just one coin to charity every day.
* Buy a letter in a Torah scroll to foster Jewish unity.
* Reach out in Ahavat Yisrael by sending a note of appreciation and hope to our soldiers in Israel.
Drop a pebble in the water:
Just a splash and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples
Circling on and on and on,
Spreading from the center,
Flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling
Where the end is going to be...
(Excerpt from poem By James W. Foley)
Your every small deed really makes a difference!
What to say when kids boast
We all want our kids to be confident. At the same time we do not want them to be vain or smug.
So how do we respond when our kid says: "I’m the best player in the team” or “I’m brilliant at maths” or “Look how amazing I look”?
• Wow! You really are amazing at that! What a wonderful gift Hashem has given you!
• Yes – I’m so glad you recognize your strength! Let us thank Hashem for giving you these extraordinary abilities.
• With these assets you have the power to … What a wonderful opportunity from Hashem!
• How do you think you can best utilize this G-d-given talent? Perhaps you can offer to help a classmate who’d appreciate your support…
The Torah was given on unassuming Mt. Sinai to teach us that growth can take place only where there is humility. But the Torah wasn’t given in a valley either. We need to have pride in who we are – like a mountain - but to always credit our strengths to Hashem and recognize that we have a responsibility to utilize these gifts properly and truly realize our potential._
On Raising Kids - By Lorian Phillips
Many of us grew up in an age where our parents emphasized being polite, putting others’ feelings first, and being obedient without questioning. All this is important for a civilized society to function, it also has many drawbacks. Kids brought up in this way may lack skills in conflict management and not trust their feelings as valid. For boys this often comes out in not allowing themselves to cry or be vulnerable as it is seen as a weakness (‘cowboys don’t cry’). Today we live in a very different age and we focus on listening to children’s views and giving them a lot of airtime. However, many kids still don’t know how to manage their feelings and deal adequately with different interpersonal relationships. It is therefore so important in our role as mothers to guide them. For instance, when your child is expressing something, try to name the feeling and provide options on what courses of action s/he can choose based on his/her feelings. For example: Your child is jumping up and down in a temper because he could not complete a task. Mom can say: ‘You’re feeling very frustrated right now. How about taking a few deep breaths, or punching a pillow to let it go, or taking a break before trying again?’ (Specify options according to the child’s personality.) As children grow older you can ask them for ideas in how to cope with their feelings. This is a vital ingredient in helping children to effectively manage feelings and deal with others. Now our challenge as Moms is to first learn these skills ourselves! Lorian Phillips is a clinical psychologist in private practice.
3 things to say to your kids
New beginnings inspire new resolutions and new hopes for meaningful growth. Here are three things to say which can have a powerful impact on your kids
1. "Where's daddy?" Say it as you re-enter your home or anytime that you meet your family. Let your hubby be the first thing your kids hear you talk about. Let them witness that before you do or say anything else, first and foremost you think about your husband and value your shalom-bayit.
2. "Make someone smile today." Say it as the kids are leaving for school. Let your daily message to them be about the importance of 'love thy neighbour as yourself'. Tell them that you believe in their power to make a positive impact in the life of another.
3. "Baruch Hashem." or "B’ezrat Hashem." Say it in every conversation throughout the day. It means "thank G-d" and "with the help of G-d" respectively. How was gym? Great workout, Baruch Hashem. When are we starting the renovation? On Monday, B’ezrat Hashem. Even sad or uncertain conversations can include mention of Hashem. Bring Him into your nitty-gritty life and see what a difference it makes!
Exams! If this word sends jitters down your spine, read on. While nothing can replace sheer hard work, there are ways that you, the parent, can help your child to study better:
1. Read over their study material so you are familiar with it. Try incorporating the material into their daily life.
2. Cut out small flashcards from cardboard. Write questions and answers or difficult vocabulary on them. Review these and make up games that can be played in the car, at the kitchen table or just about anywhere.
3. Make up silly rhymes and jokes with your children to help them remember important facts.
4. Guide them to tackle the difficult notes first using colourful diagrams and mind maps.
5. Stick important facts around the house so they see it everyday.
6. Encourage your child to teach you or a teddy.
Most importantly, stay positive! Help your child to adopt a positive mind-set and don’t add to your child’s stress levels by focusing on outcome ("You must get an A"). Focus instead on the study process, breaking the study material into more manageable parts, and help your child find the humour and fun even at this stressful time.
Tips for Raising a Mentch - Thought sfrom Dr. Pelcovitz's talk at Great Park
1. Don’t use the ‘email voice’. We all fall prey to talking in our ‘email voice’ – the tone you detect when the person on the other side of a phone call is dealing with their email. Secure time in your schedule to speak with your kid without any distractions whatsoever. Put away the phone and ipad. Look your child in the eye.
2. Set limits. Kids crave limits. A recent survey reveals that the majority of teenagers surveyed in certain communities feel that their parents should put more filters and controls on their internet usage. These teenagers probably protest these regulations, yet at the same time, deep down, they long for boundaries.
3. Watch the way you disagree. Your kids are learning from the way you react to challenging situations and to people with whom you strongly disagree. Think about the verbal and body language you use even when you’re not talking to your kids.
4. Show passion. If there’s something valuable or important to you, it’s not enough to think deeply about that value. You need to find ways to show your children that it’s valuable. Kids learn from what they see and hear. They will only know what you’re passionate about if you express that passion!
5. Look for the good and be grateful. Children don’t always fit into the perfect-picture vision parents have for them. Recognize your children for what they are and tune into the things you have to be grateful for.