We all know that Avraham Avinu was known for his chesed. So it is no wonder that Eliezer was looking for a woman for Yitzchok who would embody that midah as well. We start off this week’s Parsha with the beloved story of Eliezer meeting Rivka and Rivka’s incredible act of kindness. Not only did Rivka draw Eliezer a drink from the well, but she also supplied 10 of his camels with water. Rivka’s act of chesed proved to Eliezer that she was the one for Yitzchok.
Chesed is the hallmark of the Jewish people and we need to make sure that we are transmitting this midah to our children. Here are 2 simple ways to teach our kids all about chesed:
1. Be A Giver:
The best way to teach your children anything is not by lecturing but by role modeling. That means that you need to strive to be the person you would like them to be. (No pressure, kids will forgive your imperfections, if you forgive them theirs). If your kids see you giving of your time and your energy to the people around you they will probably become givers just be osmosis. That will become their standard for normal, appropriate behavior. You can let them know in a conversational sort of way of the acts of giving that you do: “I am going to give a call to Mrs. Cohen. Older people who live alone can get real lonely sometimes. They can use someone to talk to.” “The Shwartz’s just had a baby. I know they can use some help. I am going to make them some dinner.”
2. Reinforce Giving Behavior:
Another great way to teach your children giving behavior is to praise kids for the times you see them being a giver. Don’t point out the times when they are acting selfish, instead, be on the lookout for any little act of kindness, consideration and giving on their part. Point it out to them. Try to ignore the times that they are unkind. I often point out this parenting phenomena: When we give attention to a kid’s negative behavior we inadvertently reinforce their negative behavior. When we only focus on their positive behavior we reinforce their positive behavior. It takes a while to retrain our brains to look for the positive but it is well worth the effort.
“You shared your Shabbat treat with your brother. That is called being considerate.”
“You did your sister’s chores because she was not feeling well. That is called being kind.”
“You let Danny borrow your baseball. That is what a giving neighbor does.”
“You held the door open for your grandmother. That was an act of chesed and Kibud Av Vaem.”
Teaching kids kindness does not have to be difficult it can be as simple as role modeling and positively reinforcing kind behavior.
Adina Soclof is the Director of Parent Outreach for A+ Solutions, facilitating “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk” workshops as well as workshops based on “Siblings Without Rivalry.” Adina also runs ParentingSimply.com and is available for speaking engagements. You can reach her and check out her website at www.parentingsimply.com
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.