Use words to help — not hurt — your kids
By Laura Seymour

Dear Parents,
seymourforweb2Yom Kippur is here, and let us hope we’ve all apologized to those we may have hurt, on purpose or unintentionally. As we enter the New Year, let us remember to be the best we can be and to help our children develop as well.
Each year at the High Holidays we read a prayer by Reb Zusya. The commentary below is based on his thought: When I meet G-d, I will not be asked, “Why were you not Moses?” but rather, “Were you the best Zusya you could be?” I am reminded of this each time we question why our children are not more this or more that. We compare and we worry.
Years ago, the cry in education was, “Label jars, not children!” We strived not to label children and define them by those labels. Today we say, “Help children develop labels to identify themselves, but remember that labels are not limits.” Let us learn to use our words to help our children achieve their potential. Use words to reframe how we see our children and how they see themselves.
To help us with this goal, I am repeating this list from previous years. It is often a matter of looking at things from just a little different perspective: a change from “half empty” to “half full.” Look through this list and start using new words to describe your child (and yourself).
Adapted from the works of Mary Sheedy Kurcinka; taken from Kindermusik International, Inc.

  • Some say boisterous, you might say enthusiastic
  • Some say brooding, you might say serious
  • Some say clingy, you might say loving
  • Some say dreamy, you might say imaginative
  • Some say forceful, you might say determined
  • Some say inflexible, you might say traditional
  • Some say loud, you might say expressive
  • Some say non-participatory, you might say an observer
  • Some say picky, you might say selective
  • Some say shy, you might say reflective
  • Some say aggressive, you might say assertive
  • Some say bossy, you might say a leader
  • Some say chatterbox, you might say communicative
  • Some say controlling, you might say determined
  • Some say fearful, you might say sensitive
  • Some say impatient, you might say passionate
  • Some say insecure, you might say cautious
  • Some say manipulative, you might say charismatic
  • Some say obsessive, you might say deliberate
  • Some say self-centered, you might say proud

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady,
Laura Seymour is director of Camping & Youth Services at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas

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