The Secret of Children's Education: Loving Preperation
There is a story that is told of the Alter of Slabodka who noticed that one of the yeshiva students had a certain decline in his studies. The Alter turned to him and told him that he wanted to talk to him personally and invited him to his room! The student was very excited. A personal conversation with the Rosh Yeshiva?!? He could hardly sleep that night.
The next day, the time came. He knocked on the door of the Rosh Yeshiva's room and went in humbly and excitedly. In front of him he saw a table set with all kinds of fruit and foods and the Alter sat waiting for him to come. As soon as he noticed him, he stood up to greet him and brought him in with great affection.
They sat down at the table and began to talk. The Rosh Yeshiva even complimented him on his talents and strengths. He then instructed him on how he could use his talent to do more. Thus the Alter strengthened the young man and encouraged him for a while. Of course, it made a big impression on the young man, and at that moment he made a strong decision to become even stronger in his studies.
After the statements were made, the Alter asked his student to bless him and to taste something from the table in honor of the meeting. The young man told the Alter that he could not taste anything until the Rabbi first tasted it. The Alter told him he could not eat.
"Why?" Asked the student!
The Alter replied, "I knew that today we would talk, it would be a very important conversation for your success in the Torah, and I wanted my words to do a great deal, so I accepted upon myself to fast and pray for it!"
When the student heard the Alter's words, he was moved. Whe he saw the love that the Rabbi showed him, the student realized how important he was to the Rabbi even to the point where he was prepared to fast for his sake!
This story teaches every parent and educator that preparation must be done before talking and trying to influence their child or student. When one slap things in front of a child without any forethought, this will most likely lead to reproaches and remarks.
These are the obvious things that do not make a positive action but only the exact opposite! The lack of preparation shows the child that the parent or educator does not care. If one tried to assist a child with no preparation, it only shows that one wants to vent the anger out of his heart which then leads to comments, humiliations, and often shouts.
If the best interests of the child was at the top of an educator or parent's mind, he would think well on how to approach the subject so that his words will accomplish the goal.
Of course one should also ask Hashem that his words will indeed make the right impression in the heart of the child as did the Alter of Slabodka - tremendous preparation as described in the story!!
We should all learn from this story that we must always prepare thoughtfully before approaching our children when it comes to building up aspects of their character or correcting their behavior.
Avi Fishoff is the founder of Twisted Parenting: a Torah based practical approach intended to be used when regular parenting simply does not work.