POSITIVE PARENTING

Dear Tammy,

I am not away for the summer, and I am feeling like I need some time away from my children – just to rest up. Do you have any advice for me?

Sincerely,

Needing a Break

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Dear Needing a Break,

You are no different than any other mother on earth.

Whether someone is in a different surrounding for the summer or is staying home, it’s important to understand the purpose of “time off.” Everyone needs it. It can be as simple as taking a walk for an hour every few days or resting in the backyard for a few minutes. Let’s define “time off” as time away from responsibilities, or vacations. In order for us to make the most of our vacations, we first have to figure out the purpose of vacations.

In order to know what vacations are for we need to know what our goals in life are. We need to have larger goals, and then we make daily decisions to support our main goals. Many people come back from vacation (or a few minutes “off”) feeling unsatisfied. How could that be? If their goal in life is to indulge, they have done that on the vacation, but when they get back they want more, since they haven’t fulfilled their goal of indulging themselves at every moment in their life. It’s kind of like a bottomless pit. However, if someone’s goal in life is to connect to Hashem, they will make decisions throughout their day that support their goals. Then a vacation would look very different. Then the purpose of a vacation would be for one to recharge his or her batteries so that when one gets back from the vacation one feels refreshed and rested, and ready to go enjoy doing more service, and taking care of family and community needs.

I’ve heard people ask if it’s okay to enjoy, to relax, and take it easy. Hashem loves us. He wants us to enjoy ourselves, relax, and take it easy. When we do this, when we take care of ourselves, only then can we maximize our ability to become the greatest people we can be. And we all know that a life of giving is way more fulfilling and joyful than a life of indulgence. Would an ambulance driver ask if he is allowed to stop and refill on gas? Filling up on gas (recharging our personal batteries) allows him to operate his ambulance efficiently and go help people. If he was always driving on that last drop of gas, the ride would be unsmooth, and he would not be able to run to be of service in an efficient manner. Of course, he needs to fill up on gas, and of course we need some time for ourselves.

In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Peopleby Sean Covey, the author’s last habit, habit seven, is called “sharpen the saw.” It is a metaphor told about a man who was not able to effectively use his saw because he did not want to take time to sharpen it. Once he agreed to stop sawing and take time to sharpen his saw, he was able to cut much more efficiently and joyfully. If we take time out of our lives to relax and “sharpen our saws” we will be much more joyful and effective in all capacities.

So, my advice to you is to find some time for yourself, outline the purpose of taking this time, and fully enjoy it.

 

By Tammy Sassoon, M.s.ed
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The Difference Between
Regular Parents
and Super-Skilled Parents

Regular parents try to “make” their children happy. Inevitably, their kids end up resisting, since human nature is to want to make themselves happy. What super-skilled parents know is that they can’t make anyone happy; they can only focus on being happy. Asluck would have it, their kids pick up on their positive vibes, becoming happy by osmosis.

Regular parents think their kids should always listen to them. Super-skilled parents have accepted that sometimes kids will make poor choices (and hopefully learn from them).

Regular parents think that every mistake needs a consequence. Super-skilled parents know which battles to fight; when to look away and when to address it.

Regular parents speak in an annoyed tone of voice when they need to reprimand. Super-skilled parents make the love they feel evident, in spite of
being disappointed.

Parenting is all about working on our own inner growth. Each parenting challenge is an opportunity to either get stuck in our own vicious cycles or to ask Hashem for His help in our discomfort.

Studying parenting experts is one way to learn optimal behavior.

How Do We Know What Really Works?

Think of someone who parents their kids with the skills just mentioned. You will notice a calmness about them, as well as a happy and giving demeanor. They, as experts, use specific strategies to produce quality children. An expert parent can either be someone who grew up in an emotionally healthy environment and therefore has the necessary techniques to be in a close relationship with their children, or someone who learned a lot about parenting once they became a parent. The good news is that you can emulate either type of expert and achieve identical results.

Example:
When Experts Give“Time-out,”
They Are Supportive and Assertive

Though “time-out” has its appropriate place in behavior modification, I have all too often seen parents and teachers use it aggressively or just plain ineffectively. Interestingly, parents almost always tell me that they are not interested in learning “time-out” as a behavioral strategy, because they have tried it many times, and know that it doesn’t work. I then teach them a few points about the “time-out” method and tell them that if they are mindful of these specific tips, “time-out” will serve its purpose as a deterrent. When they learn the effective way to administer a “time-out”, they later report great success in extinguishing behaviors that were once destructive to the child and the family.

Can You Achieve This Level of Expertise?

Yes. Being an expert parent or educator is within anyone’s reach. I have seen the most seemingly limitedparents learn new strategies and change the entire dynamic in their home. If you learn the techniques and apply them immediately, you, too, can see the same results.

Get the Best Recipe
if You Want the Best Results

Imagine that you are participating in a bake-off contest with the possibility of winning $10,000 if your cake comes in first place. If you really needed to find the best recipe, would you ask someone who did not have much experience baking? Would you ask someone whose cake always flopped? I hopenot. No, you would find someone who bakes excellent cakes and ask them for their recipes. Parenting is a skill that is far more important in its everlasting effects. There are many experts in the field and if you see a parent achieving the results you like, be sure to get the “recipe.”

Tammy Sassoon is a behavioral therapist and parenting coach. She gives live workshops as well as “train by phone” telecourses to teachers, principals, therapists, and parents, in order to help them gain compliance from even the most oppositi onal children. She can be contacted through her website, www.tammysassoon.com.

By Tammy Sassoon
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