| A Better You |

Point of Honor

Whenever one child is working through a struggle, the entire family may feel the growth pains

Point of Honor

Zipora Schuck

AT times, some of our children or students may be putting effort into improving in an area they are challenged in. Chaim has a bedtime chart; Yael is on a streak for remembering to bring home her homework; Dovid’s rebbi is giving him points for raising his hand; Shoshana is studying diligently for midterms….

Whenever one child is working through a struggle, or just working hard in general, the entire family may feel the growth pains. However, we often neglect to include the siblings once the celebration stage is reached, which may lead the other children to begrudge the attention or rewards that child is receiving.

We can significantly limit this resentment if we acknowledge the impact one child’s struggles may have on his siblings, and let everyone share in the achievements.

Try “in honor of.”

In honor of Dovid, we’re having a special dessert.

In honor of Shoshana, I brought home this new game.

In honor of Yael, we’re all going out for pizza.

In honor of Chaim, everyone gets a later bedtime tonight.

The honored child will feel great, the siblings can join in the reward instead of feeling resentful, and everyone learns to “fargin” each other.

In a classroom, a teacher can select one or two students per week and acknowledge their efforts or achievements. This doesn’t need to be limited to the ones who are working on a specific challenge, but can include any child who is a model student in a particular way. That ensures that it’s not just the squeaky wheels who get the grease.

In honor of Shira, everyone can leave out number seven for homework.

In honor of Moshe, I’m giving five extra minutes of recess for the whole class.

In honor of Batsheva, I’ll skip the quiz today.

Students will eagerly await their turn to be honored.

We need not even wait for our child or student to finish their chart or master the behavior; sometimes we can reward the efforts and process as well, in turn creating more positive momentum toward the bigger achievement.

Zipora Schuck MA. MS. is a NYS school psychologist and educational consultant for many schools in the NY/NJ area. She works with students, teachers, principals, and parents to help children be successful.


Show Your True Colors

Shoshana Schwartz

IFthey knew who I really was, they’d reject me. Has that thought ever crossed your mind?

At the office, you find yourself using sophisticated syntax, even at the water cooler. While talking to your Midwestern sister-in-law, you refer to soda as “pop” and sneakers as “tennis shoes.” Before your friend’s wedding, you make sure you’re up on the latest dance steps.

The desire to blend in is completely normal, and reading and responding to social cues is an important element of communication. But if you experience a sharp spike in anxiety when you don’t blend in, you might find yourself “chameleoning” — camouflaging yourself in order to conform. Just as a chameleon automatically changes its colors to avoid predators, people can skillfully (and often unconsciously) blend in to any situation and any relationship.

Adapting to a social milieu is, well, adaptive. But a persistent pattern of hiding or minimizing yourself so that others set the tone in relationships is worth looking into. Do you believe you have a right to your opinions? To express needs? To make suggestions others might not agree with? To differ in some significant way? Do you believe you have the right to exist? Chameleonism suggests a fear of being seen as you really are, which necessitates chameleoning in order to cover up that fear. And it’s exhausting.

Often, the fear stems from past events rather than an accurate reading of the current situation. Experiment with letting your true colors show; you might be pleasantly surprised at how people accept the real you. And if they don’t, consider that the people you need to be a chameleon for may not be the people you want to have a close relationship with.

Shoshana Schwartz specializes in addiction and codependency. She gives in-person and online addiction prevention lectures and workshops to education and mental health professionals, community leaders, and parent groups, as well as 12-Step workshops for non-addicts.


Look What The Cat Dragged In

Dr. Jennie Berkovich

Cats can make delightful pets, and stray cats are not an uncommon sight either. But did you know that snuggles with cats and kittens can result in cat scratch disease (CSD)?

Cats, and especially newborn kittens, can transmit a bacteria called Bartonella via their saliva. This can occur via bite, lick, or scratch. The symptoms may take a few weeks to appear but can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache, sore throat, and general weakness. The typical treatment involves antibiotics and in rare cases, kids may need additional testing.

The best way to prevent CSD is to minimize contact with kittens and cats who scratch. Wash hands well after every pet encounter, and make sure to mention any contact with pets or animals if your child is seeing the pediatrician for any of the symptoms described above.

Dr. Jennie Berkovich is a board-certified pediatrician in Chicago and serves as the Director of Education for the Jewish Orthodox Medical Association (JOWMA)


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 835)

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