Dean's Letter Bo

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Dear Parents,

This week I returned from a whirlwind trip to Eretz Yisroel. I had the opportunity to meet the famous mekubol Rabbi Gamliel Rabinovitz shlit”a, who has much experience in chinuch habonim vehabonos. He asked me about our school, and I shared with him that we have a very strong day school that graduates boys and girls who can attend the yeshivos of their choice. I then shared with him that we also have a boarding option that draws high-school students from all over the country and abroad where we embrace, validate, and assist them in their academic and social needs in a manner that makes them feel fully integrated into the school community. He jumped up from his seat, hugged me, and asked me to give him a brochoh! He then said in the name of his father and Rav Elyashiv z”tl, that “a boarding school that nurtures girls has the zechus and reward of creating doros of religious and successful bnos Yisroel.” I wanted to share his inspiring words, as I know that Rabbi Lapin and I are just facilitators, and the entire community shares the reward that Rav Gamliel mentioned. May we all, as parents, teachers, boarder homes, and community, all share in this tremendous brochoh.

I would like to continue our discussion on parenting based on “Love and Logic,” the program being studied by our staff. Enjoy!

Is it healthy for children to believe that they can interrupt adults?

Ironically, we reinforce this bad behavior when we repeatedly tell them to stop interrupting. In effect, we are encouraging them to interrupt. To make matters worse, there are few things more rewarding to a child than being able to control the color of our faces, the volume of our voices, or the number of words produced by our tongues.

Teach Them How to Get Your Attention and Wait for Your Reply

Children as young as two or three can learn how to ask for attention in healthy ways. This involves showing them how to approach you silently and wait for your reply quietly. This takes a lot of work, patience, and practice, but it is doable.

One Love and Logic mom commented, “We have five kids under ten. That’s why we can’t afford to let them think that they can mob us for what they want anytime they want it. My husband and I taught each of them what we call the “sneaky statue” routine. When we’re talking, they know to sneak up and stand like statues. We gradually taught each of them to wait longer by celebrating their success in being “sneaky as spies” and “silent like statues.”

Use the “Stop Sign” Signal

Wise parents understand that responding to interruptions with words usually makes it worse. Instead, they continue talking while signaling with their hand that the child must stop talking and wait. Parents must maintain eye contact with the adult they are talking with. If they are on the phone, they should look away from their child.

Give Your Signal Special Meaning by Following Through

When our kids insist on interrupting, it’s essential that they see this does not pay off. With children young enough to be carried safely, parents can silently place them in a highchair, playpen, or some other safe spot, and then immediately resume their conversation. Older kids should be expected to replace the energy they have drained from their parents. This may involve doing extra chores, allowing their parents to rest instead of expecting them to drive them somewhere, paying for their own babysitter so that their parents can go on a date with each other, etc.

When kids learn that it’s okay to interrupt adults, they begin to think that they are on the same level as adults. This isn’t good for them…or for us. The happiest kids are the ones who learn early on that the world does not revolve around them.

Good Shabbos,
Rabbi Peretz Scheinerman
Dean