click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

Cheering Our Children

Cheering Our Children

You are your child’s greatest cheerleader.


“My daughter is crazy.”

Could she really have just said what I think she said?

“I mean, she really is crazy and she drives me crazy.”

Sitting at a nursery PTA meeting one doesn’t expect to hear such a harsh complaint lodged against a three year old. What could a child do to cause her own mother to label her as “crazy”?

“What makes you say that?” I probed

She grimaced. “Oh, because she just is. I ask Rachel every day what she wants in her sandwich and I make it just as she likes, but she never eats more than one bite.”

Hmmmm, I pondered, such a crime could deem a child crazy?

A few minutes later I heard an exchange between this same mother and the teacher. Apparently little Rachel had returned home that day with a marker in her bag, after explaining to the teacher that it was really hers from home, despite its strong resemblance to the nursery’s markers.

“Oy, what a liar my little girl is.”

Did she just say liar? I stared at her in complete shock. This horribly negative term hardly fit sweet little Rachel whom my daughter loved to play with.

I kept quiet, but the next time that Rachel’s mother called her daughter crazy I couldn’t hold myself back. I firmly but kindly stated, “Rachel is not crazy and you really should be careful. If you keep saying she's crazy, you're going to believe it and even worse, so will she.”

As long as I can remember, my mother has been my biggest fan.

My reprimand elicited no reaction, but at least I could not blame myself for silent approval of her name-calling.

In contrast, I envisioned my own mother, warm and encouraging. As long as I can remember, she has been my biggest fan.

“How artistic of you!” was the encouragement I was rewarded as a five year old after using four bottles of food coloring to tie-dye a box worth of tissues.

“You are officially hired as the house chef!” she announced when, at eight years old, I scrambled eggs and toasted leftover challah for the whole family.

“It’s more fun to spend time with you,” my mother said when, as a teenager, I asked her why she did not want to attend the luncheon she had been invited to.

Her gushes of supportive praise have given me the courage to think out of the box and the courage to step up to positions of leadership.

There are enough people out there that have negativity pouring out of them. Students have to face up to standardized tests and being compared to the “smart” kids, the “organized” kids, the “good listeners.” Children in the playground will always be there to poke fun at their clothes and call them names. From such a young age, children have to deal with fitting in to social networks despite being too short, too tall, too heavy or too scrawny. A parent’s job is to shower a child with so much positivity in order to shield them from all of the other stuff. The chill and skepticism that a child may encounter must be outweighed by the warmth and faith of his parents.

Every child has his challenges. Sometimes a toddler has a hard time sharing her toys or putting on her own shoes. Sometimes an eight year old boy feels that he just can’t stop wetting his bed or that he will never hit a homerun. Sometimes a teenager doesn’t believe that she has the leadership skills to be a counselor in a big sister/little sister program.

And sometimes it's the parent standing on the sidelines cheering, “I believe in you! There is no one like you!” that gives the child the needed encouragement to step out of his comfort zone and try a bit harder. Parents, grab those pom-poms! You are your child’s greatest cheerleader.

May 6, 2010

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 13

(13) Syma, May 28, 2010 12:45 PM


The article posted here, and its author are 100% right! There is no room for "over-doing it" In this day and age if you shoot for the sky, if you miss at least you'll be among the stars. The more encouragement the better, and if you think you've done enough, cheer a little louder!

(12) Robin, May 16, 2010 11:53 AM

guidance for parents

The goal is to help children build a positive, realistic image of themselves. This can happen with proper guidance. Rebbetzin Heller has a great online parenting class at which has given me many tools for relating to and inspiring my children. It takes a lot of work, and thought, but is worth every ounce of effort!

(11) chava, May 13, 2010 8:03 AM

Too much praise makes one discount all praise

My mom had me thinking that I was good at many things. And I guess I was. But when I found by experience that nevertheless I was far from REALLY good, I started disbelieving and discounting everything she had said, and lost much of my self-confidence. So, encouragement is good. Praise is good, but not when it goes beyond reality.

(10) maybe, May 10, 2010 7:02 PM

Be careful not to overdo it.

Though I agree positive reinforcement is definitely needed, I am reluctant to agree with the article's point of view of ALWAYS showering the kid with compliments. You don't want your child to grow up arrogant and feeling that he/she is the greatest thing to walk the earth. That's how dictators start out. Encouragement is definitely needed and is useful for the child's confidence, but be careful not to overdo it.

(9) SusanE, May 10, 2010 4:52 PM

A Movie Showed Me How Kids Want to Fit In.

If your child is inept socially don't encourage them to be 'fine on their own'. Teach them social responsibility. If you are socially inept then get outside help. Kids want most of all to fit in. Children act and react the same as we do. We teach them from the time they are toddlers. They see my reaction to a poor women struggling with her children at a lunch counter. Do I offer assistance or do I shun her in search of a more approprate place for me and my well dressed kids? My children see my reaction to my neighbor who is wearing a diamond bigger than mine. Then when we are home, they hear the rest of what I have to say about her. - - - - - - - - - I saw a movie years ago called "The Breakfast Club". it's relevent today. The kids in the movie are a cross section of kids in most communities. Rich and pretty, tough and street smart., brite but incompetent, athletic and ashamed, quirky and talented. Our childrens characters are both inherited and assigned. They are what we make them. They must know that vital people come in all personalities. We are all good. For awhile in the movie the kids bonded, but when it was time to move on, they reverted back to their own ways, according to the social class their parents were in. I'm not sure what the moral of the story was, except that the rich girl said she wouldn't be associating with them the next day. She was just like her parents.

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment