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Going Up?

Going Up?

Using positive communication with our children.


Tell a child often enough that he won't make it in life and guess what?

He won't.

It is up to us parents to always help our children grow, to believe in them and encourage them to climb. Who should believe in your child if not you?

A parent relayed a conversation that her husband had with her teen aged son, after he brought home a disappointing report card. Besides doing poorly in various subjects, her son, Benjamin, failed his Spanish class.

"Listen, Benjamin", her husband said. "You failed. Your report card is awful and I think you should drop Spanish immediately."

Her son replied, "But, Dad, I really tried. I want to learn Spanish. Let me try again."

"Why? So you'll fail again? You'll just end up showing mom and me exactly what you can't do. What's the point?"

Dejected, Benjamin lowered his face as his cheeks grew bright red.

"Prove me wrong, Benjamin, prove me wrong!" her husband shouted as he stormed out of the room.

After she related her experience, I spoke with the mother about what had occurred.

‘Tell your husband,' I said, "that instead of saying ‘Benjamin, prove me wrong,' he should say, ‘Benjamin, prove me right! I know you can do better. I believe in you. Prove me right!"

Our sages teach us that our words can build and our words can destroy. Negative words and impressions leave us ‘visionless'. The only place to go is ‘down'.

Positive words, on the other hand, offer our children an upward path through which they may climb.

Even in the Torah, God was careful to use positive language. When describing the sense of aloneness that Adam felt before the creation of Eve, God could have said, "It is really bad that Adam is all alone." Instead He said "It is not good that man is alone."

Let's take our cue from the Torah. When we communicate with our children we should try to express ourselves using positive language. This can be done even when we are disciplining our children.

For example, instead of saying: "I can't believe you! You're always fighting with your sister!" Try: "I know that you can get along much better with your sister."

Instead of: "I've never seen such a mess! You're room is a disaster!" Try: "You can be neater and cleaner. Your room needs to be put in order."

At the end of one parenting session that I gave, Danielle, a mother of three approached me. "I realized something today. I've been calling my six year old son ‘slowpoke' for the past few years. He wakes up in the morning and it takes him forever to get ready. I'm embarrassed to tell you that I've even called him ‘turtle'. I decided today that I am going to make a change. I am going to try using positive words with him."

After the next class, Danielle told me that she could not believe the difference in her son that accompanied her new attitude. Instead of dragging his feet, he's the one who tries to be down first in the morning. One night, as he was going up to bed, he gave his mother a kiss and whispered in her ear, "Mommy, thank you for not calling me a turtle anymore."

Let us try to give our children ideals to aspire to instead of digging deep holes into which they may descend. Each day we have countless opportunities to help our children grow, to believe in them and help them reach higher.

After all, we don't call it ‘raising children' for nothing!

April 18, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 10

(10) yossef, April 23, 2009 8:15 AM

Thank you for these timeless tips, I must make sure to keep them in mind at all times, You have such good advice to offer!

(9) Yael, April 23, 2009 12:40 AM


I heard this great line from my mother, a veteran teacher: "I won't become what I think I can become, I won't become what you think I can become, I will become what I think that you think I can become." Meaning, our children feel that we believe in them and that we are confident in them, they will succeed.

(8) Anonymous, April 22, 2009 8:51 PM

Your Book

Slovie, I bought your latest book- the one about raising a child with soul- and read it cover to cover. I'm now making my husband read it- along with a couple of neighbors- it really inspired me to be a better parent, but at the same time made me feel sad that I have so far to go!! Your strength is wonderful. Keep inspiring us foot soldiers! What you do really does make a difference.

(7) Laya Saul, April 20, 2009 5:44 AM


This is beautiful, every parent should read and understand this. Not once but over and over, because we parents need to raise ourselves if we are to raise our children. Thank you!

(6) ruth housman, April 19, 2009 9:26 AM

criticism is corrosive

Yes, the power of positivity and how positivity raises self-esteem and gives forth rays of sunshine. It seems such an easy lesson but we need to keep repeating this endlessly. Children need honey to grow as this is their water and sunlight. People learn from praise and also tempered praise, but pulling anyone down is degrading and can act like acid on the soul. Look for the opportunities everywhere to spread a little sunshine. Maybe all of this sounds trite but trite is a good "rite" of passage when it comes to something this inmportant and true.

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