Celebrating SUKKOT 5780

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By: Tammy Sassoon, M.s.ed

Parents often think that if they already made so many mistakes with their children, it’s too late to repair a relationship that seems to have gone sour. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Most parent-child relationships that have gone wrong are simply a result of parents believing that their child is a problem and needs to be fixed. Once parents relax and see that their children already are good kids, children stop feeling like they are broken, and are much more receptive to their parent’s giving direction. After all, who on earth would want to take direction from someone who believes that they are a problem? Instead, let’s understand the truth about our children’s difficulties – and that all human beings come into this world with their own unique set of gifts and challenges.

Let’s stop thinking about “How do I GET my child to…”, and instead think, “What does my child need, and how can I be there for him or her?” Then, the child feels less controlled, and organically WANTS to do what’s right.

Using the RESET Button

Here is a very basic example of how a wonderful and
well-meaning mother was able to change the way she was interacting with her three-year-old son, and transform a disastrous dynamic into one of joy and victory:

Recently, a mom called me up, desperate for some toilet training advice. She realized that she was making some serious mistakes in the method she was using. Her son was a very strong-minded little guy, and the mom was really frustrated with the whole dismal situation. He resisted all her efforts, and she asked me how she can turn the situation around so her son can start to have some success using the bathroom. (By the way, I love when mothers ask, "how" instead of "why" because that's how they move towards solutions.)

I told her she would need to set the "RESET" button on this whole negative experience she was having with her son. (It's never too late!) We discussed that she would go back to her son and use the following script:

"Ooooh, Mommy made a mistake. I didn't realize that only YOU are inside your head! Only YOU know when you need to use the bathroom."

Then, this really amazing mother saw really amazing results with her child. He stopped crying about the whole issue, and had no problem going on his own.

What Happened??

Once she let him know that she would be starting to interact with him in NEW and DIFFERENT ways, that she was handing the control over to him, he actually didn't mind cooperating. (Anyway, you can't ever force a child to train before they are ready, so we might as well let them enjoy that control that is rightfully theirs.)

In life, every moment offers a fresh new opportunity, and teshuva is a gift from Hashem that allows us to clean ourselves up, and start fresh again.

Applying This Technique with
Older Children

If we actually made repeated mistakes that were harmful to our children, we can let our children know that. (Just make sure that you are SUPER ready to start doing things differently when you let your child know about your plan.) You can say, “Mommy’s been thinking lately, and I’m coming to the realization that when I scream at you, it’s like as if I think that you shouldn’t make mistakes. Me screaming so much may have made you feel like Mommy thinks that you are not so important, Gd forbid. I am really sorry about the pain I have caused you. I was actually just acting out my own insecurities, and from now on I am planning to speak to you in the kind tone in which all precious people deserve to be spoken to.”

Submit a question to Tammy

If you are a frustrated mom or dad looking for answers to a specific problem at home, or want to improve your parenting skills in a certain area, please send an email toeditor@communitym.com.Tammy will suggest new and effective parenting strategies that actually work!