HOW TO DRUG-PROOF YOUR KIDS

HOW TO DRUG-PROOF YOUR KIDS

Dr. Miriam Adahan, Dec. 10, 2009

 

"Let your most minor victory over the yetzer hara be great

 in your eyes in order that this victory will serve as an impetus

 to defeat it in even greater temptations."  (Chovos HaL'vovos)

 

            A mother, who had been in my parenting classes years ago, called with good news. "Miriam," she enthused, "I just want to thank you for teaching us the Victory Technique.  You promised that we would reap great rewards with our teens if we started when they were small, and you were right. My 15-year-old ADHD son went to a party on Motzai Shabbos.  The next day he told me that there had been drugs and alcohol, but that he hadn't taken them.  I asked him if all the work we had done on victories as he was growing up had helped him resist the temptation.  He looked at me intently said, 'That's the only thing that helped! I told myself that it's o victory to smoke dope or get drunk!'  I was so proud of him.  When my children were young, I spent a lot of time each day talking about my own victories and theirs, but I didn't know how much he internalized until that moment!"

       What is this "magical" Victory Technique?  All you need to do is simply notice and cheer your smallest victories throughout the day.  A victory is the term used when we resist our "animal" urges, like the urge to be mean, vengeful, lazy, greedy, jealous or selfish.  It can be as simple as not eating junk food, doing a small chesed for a neighbor, giving tzdakah, not buying luxuries or not looking at people dressed immodestly. We all have hundreds of victories a day.   If you start mentioning them when your children are young, they eventually start to think, "I'm a responsible, trustworthy person who can resist temptation and stand up to pressure."  Putting our focus on the positive that we do is the only drug-free way to fight addictions, including "mood addictions," such as anxiety, depression and anger.

Self-discipline is the basis for self-respect!  The ability to choose our thoughts and actions is the preeminent sign of our Divine essence. A dog cannot choose not to bark.  A cat cannot choose not to chase a mouse.  Only humans have this wondrous gift of free will.  True, it is not always easy to exercise this gift.  We often feel like helpless victims of irresistible and uncontrollable urges.  Moods descend on us.  People insult and betray us. We experience endless frustrations, irritations and losses.  If we focus on our victories - on the faith and fortitude required to get through the rough spots, we will gain more faith and more fortitude.         

Research shows that 80% of children enter first grade with a sense of self worth and 80% leave twelve years later feeling defective and inferior.  The Victory Technique is the only way to "immunize" our children against the attacks they will inevitably sustain to their sense of self-worth and competency.  By cheering our children for "doing the difficult," whether it is studying for a test or not insulting a sibling, they develop faith, both in themselves and in Hashem. A person who lets himself be controlled by his moods or urges cannot have faith in Hashem, for he lacks faith in himself.  Each victory strengthens our connection to our Divine essence.

You are never too old to start this process. If you think of yourself as inferior or incapable of self-control, you can change your brain patterns now. Yes, it takes more time to alter deeply engrained beliefs, but you can do it!  Start now. It is a victory to read this article.  You had victories when you got up on time this morning, brushed your teeth, showered, paid your bills, spoke politely, made hundreds of decisions about what to say, eat and buy.  It is this awareness – not beauty, awards, money or grades – that is the source of true self-worth. 

A few weeks ago, I hosted two families with three young children, age 2, 4 and 5.  One of the husbands suffered from depression and was barely able to move.  On Friday night, I announced that we would have a "Victory Shabbos," and explained that throughout the Shabbos, whenever anyone said that they were doing something difficult, I would put a raffle ticket in the box I had prepared.  (I separated the tickets before Shabbos.)  I explained that a victory could be as simple as saying a bracha out loud or being careful about whatever laws of Shabbos were difficult. 

Throughout Shabbos, we all had fun mentioning our own victories, which are different for each person.  One woman said it was a victory not to wash dishes which would not be reused on Shabbos.  Another said it was a victory not to take the lemon seeds out of the lemon, due to borer. One adult said, "I'm having a victory and not taking a second piece of cake."  The kids caught on quickly.  The four-year-old said that it was a victory not to eat before Kiddush.  The five-year-old's victory was not to rock the chair as he ate.  The two-year old's victory was to take her vitamins. 

One thing that bothered the father was the thumb-sucking of the four-year old.  I told the child that I'd put a ticket in the box each time he wanted to suck his thumb and refrained from doing so.  He got eighty-for raffle tickets!  The father was astounded that instead of having to scold his son for sucking his thumb, the child took the initiative to stop on his own.  Both parents said that there was little need to scold or admonish the children all Shabbos. All they had to do was say, "Can you do this victory?"  And the depressed husband, who had not gone to shul the night before, said that his victory was to go to shul Shabbos morning.  As the day went on, he actually smiled a few times and became more involved in what was going on around him!

The Victory Technique proves that we can feel pleasure when we resist temptation instead of feeling deprived.  This spiritual joy offsets the pain of missing out on the physical pleasure which comes from indulging our animal passions. Each of my children always had a "Victory Notebook," and to this day I keep one for myself. 

A MOM:  "It may sound crazy, but I started using the victory method with my baby from birth.  I'd tell him that it was a victory to let the doctor give him his shots, or wait patiently while I washed my hands before feeding him or that he was bearing all the discomfort of gas and burps with such courage.  Talking about victories calms him, as if his neshama hears my words and even if he is screaming, it calms me to talk about our victories."

Life must be pleasurable to be bearable. A victory mind-set makes parenting exciting and pleasurable. Otherwise, the day goes by in a flurry, often without any real spiritual content.  When children internalize a victory mind-set, parents do not have to hover over them to make sure that they act properly.  They learn to act right on their own, because doing so makes them proud of themselves!   

“Positive actions will overcome a negative mental state" (Mesilath Yesharim, p. 91).

People often expect to feel Hashem's presence without work.  But there is no true gain – not in the physical or the spiritual world – without exercise and investment.  The more we invest in appreciating our victories, the more we can hear the voice of our neshama.  So notice when you exercise your seven "neshama powers," i.e., compassion, self-control, integrity, determination, humility, commitment and faith.  Talk to people about your victories – and get people to share theirs.  Since most people suffer from low self-esteem, it is a great chesed to help them feel good about their ability to overcome temptation and bring holiness into the world.

[I have a set of 39 possible VICTORIES to notice during the day.  Both adult and children's cards can be ordered from my website www.miriamadahan.com or from Perl Abromowitz 718-437-6358.  I can be reached for private consultations at 011-972-2-5868201 or my e-mail, emett@netvision.net.il] 

Adam Vinatieri Jersey Byron Maxwell Jersey Adam Thielen Jersey Chris Hogan Jersey Brandin Cooks Jersey Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Jersey Brandon Marshall Jersey Aldon Smith Jersey