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Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Every Kid is Unique

Yoma 82

The art of child-rearing lies in understanding the unique qualities of each child.

The Mishnah says that we do not force a child to fast on Yom Kippur.  Instead, we educate the child to fast a year or two before the age of bar/bat-mitzvah, in order to get them accustomed to doing mitzvos.  This instruction of ‘a year or two’ seems a little vague.  The Gemara explains that it all depends on the kid.  Some children are able to fast younger than others.

The Talmud is teaching us two powerful lessons about education and child-rearing:
1.  Forcing kids to practice my way of life is futile.  The goal is not to create a carbon-copy of myself.  If I try to do that, I will fail. 
2.  Every child is unique.   As the wise King Solomon wrote in Proverbs, “Educate each child according to his way.”  If my approach to educating my children is cookie-cutter, that too will fail.

Every kid is different and I must be in tune with my child’s needs.  Some kids are visual, others are auditory.  Some kids need more discipline and structure, others need more creative freedom.   

Let us strive to tune in to each of our children’s unique abilities and characters, so that we can provide them with an education that will make a real impression on the way they ultimately choose to live their lives.

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