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Never Beyond Reach

by Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch

  

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Are you feeling drained from raising a hyperactive child?

Recently, I came across a book called “Transforming the Difficult Child” by Howard Glasser, which offers one of the best drug-free parenting solutions I have ever seen. What I found most refreshing was that the book also emphasizes the principles of Relationship Theory that I outline in my book “At Risk – Never Beyond Reach.”

Anyone who has raised a “difficult” child knows how much time and energy goes into managing negative and self-destructive patterns of behavior. Parents in this situation often feel that most of the positive energy they once had for their other children is drained away by an overly zealous and demanding child who constantly derives negative attention for their behavior.

One of the ways of looking at the difficult child is that he/she is indeed an “energy” zapper – like an inefficient oversized car –that seeks to eat up energy (of her/his parents) at an overwhelming pace. Owners of SUV’s witness this all the time when dealing with skyrocketing fuel costs that inflate their monthly bills to unacceptable levels. So too, parents of kids who take up too much of their energy feel like they are paying an unacceptable price for raising their children.

In truth, all children demand their parent’s energy – some more and some less. Some children are more energy efficient and go a long way with a little input from their parents. With energy-efficient children, parents don’t feel drained; just a little pat on the back or a kiss and a hug is enough to get them going for the entire today. And if they get into trouble, you can sit down with them calmly, talk things out, and in a few minutes they just move on.

Not so with difficult children. No matter how much you put in – and independent of all the treats, fun experiences, bribes and pleas – they continue to feel that their proverbial cup is forever half empty. The difficult child is also a thrill seeker. He or she prefers explosive fireworks to a simple game of catch in the park. The need for energy compels difficult children to fight with their brothers and sisters, get in trouble in school, and demand that their parents pay primary attention to their negative and destructive behaviors.

So what is motivating hyperactive children? The answer may lie in viewing how their parents – and teachers – respond to their need for energy. And here’s where Relationship Theory comes into play. In response to the demand for attention, a parent has two choices: (1) yell back and go on the offensive, (2) neutralize the negative behavior through deemphasizing its exciting value and accent the positive.


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RELATED CATEGORIES

Philosophy » Religion

Daniel
1. A Jerusalemite exiled in Babylon after the destruction of the 1st Temple. He interprets dreams, gives accounts of apocalyptic visions, and is divinely delivered from a den of lions. 2. One of the 24 Books of the Bible, which describes the events of Daniel's life.