Use your words to help kids define selves
By Laura Seymour

Yom Kippur is here and hopefully, we have 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 help our children develop as well.
Each year at the High Holy Days, we read a prayer by Reb Zusya. The commentary (the small print at the bottom) shares the thoughts of Reb Zusya: “When I meet God, 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 worry. Years ago, the cry in education was “label jars, not children.” We strived not to label children and define them by that label.
Today we say, “Help children develop labels to identify themselves, but remember labels are not limits.” Let us learn to use our words to help our children see who they are and who they can be. Use words to reframe how we see our children and how they see themselves.
To help us with this goal, I am repeating the list below 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).
Some say …, You might say …
aggressive, assertive
bossy, a leader
chatterbox, communicative
controlling, determined
fearful, sensitive
impatient, passionate
insecure, cautious
manipulative, charismatic
obsessive, deliberate
self-centered, proud
spoiled, well loved
troublesome, challenging
unpredictable, flexible
boisterous, enthusiastic
brooding, serious
clingy, loving
dreamy, imaginative
forceful, determined
inflexible, traditional
loud, expressive
non-participatory, an observer
picky, selective
shy, reflective
stubborn, tenacious
unfocused, curious
withdrawn, introspective
Adapted from the works of Mary Sheedy Kurcinka; taken from Kindermusik International, Inc.
Laura Seymour is director of Jewish life and learning and director of camping and youth services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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