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A Powerful Concept to Alter Children’s Behavior

September 10, 2016

There is a Jewish word that doesn’t translate directly into English, but it informs my attitude to people who have undergone hardship and need help.

Translated, the word is a hybrid of several concepts, not standing alone on any one, but really the combination of all.

The concepts or words in English best to translate this Jewish word are; empathy, compassion, mercy and charity.

When one is troubled, has undergone hardship, is in a bad way, we want to show behavior associated with the combination of those attitudes. We want to be supportive, concerned, helpful and offer something enabling of a better outcome. We want to feel for the other and provide a hand.

For example, a parent may feel perturbed by the behavior of a child. The child who shows his or her struggles through behavior can be felt to be a challenge. Challenging behavior can be felt to be willful, undermining and oppositional. In response, the parent can feel angry, frustrated, uncertain.

With this Jewish concept, if we can understand and appreciate the challenges as the child experiences them, then we not only demonstrate an appreciation of this Jewish word, but in so doing, can alter our attitude towards the child. When we alter our attitude, a change in our behavior is soon to follow. As we change our attitude and behavior, it opens up a world of possibilities for the child to change theirs.

The child isn’t bad. They don’t have the language or skill yet to express their emotional pain or discontent. The child’s challenging behavior is most often an expression of their pain and/or discontent. If we can show empathy, compassion, mercy and charity, then maybe we can come to better understand what is troubling to the child. The child experiences us as safe to open up to. This doesn’t mean we necessarily give in to a child’s wishes, but being heard and appreciated is a powerful tonic to distress and discontent.

The benefit of attending counseling is to help the parent get in touch with the child’s experience of the child’s life. If the child then join’s the parent in counseling, the parent is supported in providing the child an experience of parental empathy, compassion, mercy and charity. This enables the child to feel safe to express themselves.

Much emphasis is placed on diagnosis, assessing and providing behavioral interventions. Sometimes what is needed most is connection. Enacting this Jewish word can provide for that connection.

The Jewish word is rachmones.

If you see me, I will teach you not only how to say it, but how to show it.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Please check out my services and then call me or any other therapist for that matter if you need help with a child behavior, relationship issue or upsetting life event. Need Help? Please get help.

If you know someone who may benefit from this information, please share this blog with the links below.

(Download and print as a handout)

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

One Comment
  1. Are you familiar with Steven C Kassel, MFT ? This is from HIS Website:
    Interpersonal Biofeedback is a promising new area of study and clinical practice. It is a hybrid of two evidence based therapies, Biofeedback and Psychotherapy, where information of physiology, such as heart rate, heart rate variability, brain waves, hand temperature, sweat gland activity, and/or respiration are given back to more than one person at a time to help them learn how to tone down nervous system arousal or better tune-in to one another. The first research paper that appeared was in 1978, by family therapist and theorist Michael Kerr, in which he discussed biofeedback may be used to help families.

    Hope you find this interesting
    Best Regards

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