July 29, 2014


The summer is flying by and we’re trying to enjoy it. However, our thoughts never stray to far from Israel. I am glued to the computer, to the news reports coming out of the Holy Land. My second son is there now on NCSY’s Kollel tour and we hope to join him in 2 weeks. We are G-d willing celebrating our 3rd son’s bar mitzvah in just a few more weeks at the Kotel.

Life does go on, even as we prepare for our trip.

My oldest child is working and my 2 younger children are CITs in a local day camp. They are occupied for a few hours a day, but we still are spending a lot more time together than we do during the year. I love it, but it can also be challenging.

One of the things that I find tough to handle is the need to micromanage their lives. I find I am constantly telling them what to do. I need to remind myself often that I have to respect their point of view and value their input. I know that one of the best ways to do that is to ask them to assist me in thinking of solutions to the little domestic problems that come up. It is also helpful to ask their opinions, empower them to help themselves and praise solution-oriented thinking.

But it seems so much easier for me to do the thinking for them. I know though that in the end, when I do ask them to be a part of the solution, they feel good about themselves and it helps them feel a part of a team, a family team, Team Soclof.

These techniques are great reminders for me on how to do this. I hope you find them helpful as well:

Here are some questions that we can ask to promote problem-solving skills in our kids:

  • “What can we do as a family to make sure the bikes are put away in the evening?
  • “What can we do to make sure that the bathing suits are properly hung up to dry?”
  • “There has been some fighting about the basketball hoop. How can we make sure that everyone is getting a turn?”
  • “Does everyone feel comfortable with the jobs that they have been assigned? If not, can anyone think of solutions?

Some ways to ask their opinion are:

  • “We are having your cousins over, do you think they would like to sleep in the guest room or camp out with you?”
  • “Grandma and Grandpa are coming to visit, do you think they want one or two pillows?”
  • “Dinner is in an hour. The table is set and the food is in the oven ready to go. Do you think we have time for our bike ride now or should we wait until after dinner?”

Kids also like to have a say in what will help them overcome the little challenges that they face everyday. To teach them that they have the ability to help themselves with a little thought, we can ask:

  • “You seem sad about that ball game. What would make you feel better?”
  • “Sounds like you are having trouble getting along with Hannah, is there anything that you have done in the past that would help you now?”
  • “You seem stressed about that camper who is giving you trouble, what do you think you can do to help yourself feel better?”

Finally, I know that I want to reinforce thinking that is solution oriented. I try to recognize any attempts by my children to come up with a solution:

  • “That is an interesting idea, we should try it.”
  • “That is thinking out of the box.”
  • “I am glad we are a family that focuses on solutions.”

Now I actually have to put this into practice. Wish me luck! I hope I can continue this even on our trip, while we are in Israel!

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.