Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

29 Sivan 5765 - July 6, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Expressing Feelings to Children
by H. Freedman

There are parents who are afraid that they can't properly express their love for their children. They feel, and rightly so, that it isn't enough for parents to love their children; they must acquire techniques to properly and sincerely express their feelings to their children.

If during your childhood you felt loved, you are blessed. Natural love flows from you to your children. But you also have the day-to-day worries of work and home that lead you to wonder if you are really bestowing heaping doses of affection on your children. Forging a real quality bond between parents and children is the best way to ensure a good flow of communication. How can we assess the quality of our communication with our children? Before you, a few daily tasks:

* Don't be embarrassed to say to your children, "I love you."

* Kiss, hug and stroke your children (as age appropriate)

* Ask your children's opinions in areas that feel comfortable to you

* Answer their questions patiently and thoroughly

* Raise your children to be responsible as age appropriate.

* Create situations where you can boost your children's self- confidence

* Surround your children with loving relatives and friends

It isn't easy to carry out these tasks. For many of us, the list looms like a towering mountain. To make the tasks easier, a few general rules:

Four rules a day:


Try to devote some time every day to each one of your children. Put yourself in his shoes; try to understand his wishes and how he thinks. Enjoy spending time with your infant; play thinking games and do a puzzle with your kindergarten-aged daughter; study for a test with your ten- year-old son, or help your teenaged daughter to plan something for the school party.

Remember: The child is the leader. You just copy what he does without making suggestions or supervising his actions. When the child spends time with you without any criticism from you, he discovers his personality and feels loved, wanted and accepted.

"It's hard for me to find time, I'm so busy . . . " you're probably thinking. If so, devote a few minutes to your child but the main thing is to look at your child with eyes overflowing with love, to listen to him seriously and to take an interest in his needs.


Be aware of the power of your words. The way one speaks to a child turns them into an ally or, G-d forbid, an opponent. The child comes home from school grumbling. "I'm angry, the teacher yelled at me today." Don't say: "I'm sure he had a good reason," but say gently , "I'm sure you were embarrassed when the teacher yelled at you."

As if by magic, your child feels that you understand and love him. He knows you're always on his side and now the path is clear to discuss the matter, "Why did the teacher yell at you?" When we understand the child's point of view, we don't make up for or justify their actions. In fact, because we project understanding to our child, — "I'm sure you were embarrassed," the child is open to receive what we have to say and suggest.

Act with sensitivity and reason. React in a similar way even when there isn't a problem.

Your daughter comes home excited: "Ima, my group won the competition!' Don't say "Nu, nu," or "Please put your schoolbag away." React with a question, "What did you win? How many points did your group get?" Your question conveys: "I heard you, I'm interested and want to hear more." This kind of communication skill completes the circle of fruitful talk. Interest demonstrates love.


Be patient with feelings. It isn't the end of the world if a child doesn't express himself, or does so in a negative manner. When you give a child names for his feelings like fear, anger, disappointment, sadness or joy, you are helping the child to put his feelings in order. Give legitimacy to the child's feelings but limit his behavior.

A two-year-old toddler is very angry and as a result, he tries to climb on the kitchen table. React with empathy but firmness. "You are very angry, you want to stand on the kitchen table, but I don't allow it." With your reaction, you labeled his emotion and you stood by him in his temper. Thereby, you help him contain uncontrolled behavior in the future. When parents behave this way, the child learns that he's not alone and his feelings are legitimate. The most powerful way to express the bond between parents and children is by creating a type of deep personal friendship between you and your child.


We can express love and set limits simultaneously. When you prevent your child from behaving inappropriately, he surely feels distressed. However, in the long run, determining behavioral lines that are clear and logical project the message: "I am interested in your needs; you're very important to me but I have the power and responsibility to bring you up properly."

Behave wisely. When you say, "No," always try to include in the prohibition a message of love: "I don't allow you to ride the bike on the road. It's dangerous. It's only because I love you very much." Check yourself often though to make sure that the "no" is indeed for the child's benefit.

Evening. The children are sleeping. You're sipping a cup of coffee in the kitchen and thinking about the day gone by. In retrospect, it appears you wouldn't have won the "Mommy Medal" today. You didn't pay enough attention, you were impatient and the children fought. Try to go over the events of the day but from a loving and understanding perspective. How easy it is to understand everyone when you are loving.

A well-based and secure bond of affection between parents and children is like a life-saving anchor that a child can hold to when he needs love for any reason. The bond is very important for children. That is how they develop a natural and healthy ability to give and receive love.

Devoted, quality and dependable care helps a child feel secure. He isn't hanging on to his mother's apron strings, isn't afraid to build new relationships, to investigate his surroundings and to enlarge his social circles. The more loved child is potentially more sociable and will realize his intellectual talents to their maximum. If you were wondering why and to what extent you have to express your love to your children, you now have a few more excellent reasons to do so.


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