Each morning, throughout Elul, we listen to blasts from the Shofar beckoning us to do T’shuvah. By listening, and internalizing the daily message of Elul, we are better prepared for the Yomim Naroim. However, we can take a valuable lesson from this experience and apply it to our daily lives, year round.
The best salespeople usually credit their ability to listen to their customer’s needs as the key to their success. Similarly, marriage experts frequently cite one’s ability to listen as integral to effective communication with one’s spouse. In both cases, the necessity of understanding the needs of others — something we can only obtain by truly listening — is needed to make a relationship work. However, the relationship we have with our children usually consists of a different dynamic.
As parents, we are expected to have all the answers, and to know best. It’s what makes us parents. However, it’s important that we do not forget that our children too have something to say, and that we must be available to hear it by listening. If our child is happy, sad, angry, embarrassed, proud, or unsure, they let us know, either through body language, moods, or quite often by saying so. We just have to listen. By paying attention and acknowledging these messages, we can work to strengthen our children’s self-esteem and heighten their sense of self-identity and self-worth. After all, by validating their feelings, they know that what they feel has value.
At Yeshiva of South Shore Pre-school, we work hard to communicate to our children that they are important, and a part of something important. As the year gets off to a start, various projects will encourage the children to use their creativity and to express themselves. By giving the children the opportunity to use their own words to attach meaning to their projects, and then displaying these projects, we demonstrate to our children that their contributions have value.
Throughout the year, the teachers work together with each child getting to know what they think. Experience charts, circle time discussions, and opportunities for creative expression all serve as ways to listen to our children. And parents can continue the benefits by asking often what their child did in school, and how they feel about school. Together, if we listen, we may all be zoche to watch as beautiful, confident, and expressive little boys and girls blossom before our very eyes…and ears. May we all have a Gut G’benthched Yur.