SUMMER 2019 The Summer of Torah, Hesed, and Charity

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By: Tammy Sassoon, M.s.ed

It's "after dinner time" and your child is screaming about his brother who took a ball from underneath his bed while he was innocently playing outside...

So, you get down to your child's eye level, and you say all the right words, everything you learned about EMPATHY in all the parenting classes you took. You remember the exact script, and you say, "Michael, you look so upset that your brother took your ball." Now instead of calming down, Michael screams at you that you are the worst mother in the world! What happened?!?

Practicing Empathy

Well, let's remember that kids are just mini people who have all the same psychological settings and human needs as we have. How would you feel if you were upset that someone stole your bag, and then when you call a friend you get a, "Wow, you sound upset that someone stole your bag"? You would also be inclined to scream that she is the worst friend in the world. But since you are an adult you kindly tell her that you have to go, and then call someone who actually might empathize with you.

So how CAN you use empathy effectively? The answer is that EMPATHY will be well received if your children feel that your heart is with them, and it will not be well received if your child feels that you are saying words to try to control his or her behaviors that you find annoying.

I used to wonder why my kids didn't believe me when I told them I loved them, and then I realized that they will only believe me if I treat them like the most awesomely valuable creatures on the planet!

Embracing Others by
Engaging with Them

Imagine for a moment that your neighbor Betty seems annoyed at you oftentimes when she sees you. Sometimes she says, "Can you tie up your garbage better?" in a stern tone, and sometimes she rolls her eyes at you. Every now and then she tells you how much she likes having you as a neighbor.

That leaves you wondering why she seems annoyed with you so often, or why she is fabricating some words about liking you. Certainly, you would question your trust towards her.

What's missing in this relationship is that Betty is not EMBRACING you as a human being. She is too caught up in her own insecurities to realize that human beings are fascinating creatures with the capacity to give, to love, to think, and to bring joy to the world! (No exceptions please!!! If you think your kid is so difficult that he is excluded from this rule of life, please email me, so I can give you a nice long speech about that! If you believe that, chances are you also don't realize how amazing you are!)

Kids need to feel that you EMBRACE them as people, and that happens by the way you engage with them.

Here's a Mini- EMBRACE Checklist:

Do you Express Pre-Thinking?Do you show that you are thinking of your child BEFORE he asks for something by writing notes, picking up an inexpensive item that he or she likes, telling the child that you are hoping to play a board game today, etc.?

Do you use an “I-Tone”?This tone of voice shows you are in this whole business of parenting because of your own agenda. Alternately, a “Wise-Tone” is a tone of voice that shows you are giving instructions because you care about what's right, such as being calm, kind, respectful, and not afraid to set limits.

Do you use non-judgmental languageafter your child does something undesirable?

Do you use language that shows you trustyour child to make great decisions?

If you use language that SHOWS your child how much value you think they have, they will surely know AND feel your true love for them!

To summarize, it's all in your intention. Is your intention to be there for your child in the moment of their needing you, or is your intention just to stop their negative or annoying behaviors?

And by the way, if your intention is to be there for your child, the disruptive behaviors magically do disappear over time! So much fun to watch!!