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Section:  Avodah   Category: Chanoch L'Naar
Yom Huledet Sameach!
This story was told to me by a good friend and I think it provides a good example of how sometimes Chinuch is far less complicated then we think.

My daughter turned five years old and today she was going to have a birthday party in school.  She woke up in the morning and as soon as she got out of bed the trouble started.  She was bossy and obnoxious to her brothers, sisters, parents, and everyone and everything that did or didn’t move.  It wasn’t very pleasant.  After a few threats from me warning her to either buckle up or get punished, my wife ultimately dismissed her from the breakfast table.  She went to her room crying.  Afterwards my wife in passing commented to me that “just because it is her birthday does it mean she can boss everybody around?”

As that comment echoed in my head with the background cries of the punished birthday girl, it dawned upon me.  Maybe she actually thought her birthday means she is Queen for the day.  Maybe just maybe, she believed that this entitles her to use and abuse her one-day lofty status that she will forfeit as soon as her bedtime arrives that evening.  And why shouldn’t she think so?  She is dressed on a Monday morning in her shabbos clothing.  She has a cake to give out in school along with fully loaded peckalach.  If that doesn’t give you power what does?  Besides with the goodies that everybody is getting they should just grin and eat it.

So I went to her room and explained her what birthdays are all about and why we give out treats to everyone.  Our birthday is a very happy day for us.  It is the day we get to be a year older.  It is very special because it only happens once a year and this is an enormous amount of time for a child of that age.  Since it is so special for us we want everybody to be happy so we can enjoy our day more.  We especially don’t want other kids to ruin our day because they are jealous that their birthday is so far away.  So we give everybody treats so that they will also be happy that it is your birthday.  Most importantly we need to be especially nice to them so they will be happy and not sad or angry.  This little speech seemed to turn a light on in her head and I had a feeling that I was right on the money this time.

What is the moral of the story?  Sometimes our children aren’t just acting badly out of instinct.  They are actually acting the way they think they are supposed to act.  It takes far more than five years for a child to mature and to understand how to act in each situation.  We shouldn’t always respond as if the kid is challenging us and is a bad child.  We should try to understand why the child is doing what they are doing.  There may be some very logical reasons in their young but slightly misguided mind.  

“Chanoch L’Naar Al Pi Darko”.  Don’t superimpose your years of education and experience on the child’s mind and think that they understand. Try to understand what is going on in the fresh young minds and shape it correctly, don’t smash it.  I can honestly say I have never seen such a remarkable about face from a child.  She came out of her room, wiped of her tears, and was the most pleasant birthday girl I ever had the pleasure to be around.  Sometimes life is far less complicated than we think.

A special thanks to the writer for sharing this with us.

RELATED ARTICLES:birthday  children  chinuch  expectations  maturity

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