My Son, the Tasmanian Devil

My Son, the Tasmanian Devil

“Most parents with a child like Yoel would give him ritalin,” my doctor mentioned matter-of-factly, as though she was saying something obvious like “Carrots contain lots of vitamin A” and “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East.”

But what she was saying was far from obvious to me.

Up until several months before my 3-year-old son had been a very calm child, the kind of boy that caused neighbors and teachers alike to remark knowingly “You can see that this Yoel Weisberg is growing up in a house full of girls…”

But soon after I gave birth in the summer to my 5th daughter, my Yoel suddenly changed. Climbing, breaking, hitting– non-stop misbehaving.

My calm angel had been replaced by a Tasmanian devil.

The 3 years of parenting classes and the mountain of parenting books and the 12 years of mothering experience that I had under my belt had, I discovered, left me completely unprepared to cope with the hurricane that was my only son.

To maintain my sanity, I did something I had never done before. Instead of picking Yoel up from nursery school at 1:30 PM like all the other mothers, and as I had with all my daughters, I realized that I had no choice but to admit that I was simply not coping. I swallowed my pride and enrolled Yoel in an afternoon program until 4 PM, so that he would be out of the house for almost the whole day.

I felt like a failure. What kind of mother can’t stand being around her own son? And what kind of stay-at-home mother sends her 3-year-old out of the house, by choice, for 8 hours a day!

And when Yoel would walk through the door at 4 PM? My heart raced, my shoulder muscles locked. I was in full panic mode, as though a blood-thirsty lion or terrorist had just walked through my front door and not my Yoel, the son that I had davened for for so many years to join our house-full of Weisberg girls.

4 to 5 was the hardest hour of my day. It was an hour that lasted a week. Yoel was hitting and breaking and Tasmanian devil-ing while I was trying my best to maintain some kind of order and feed my older daughters a meal when they arrived home from school.

As soon as my girls were done eating, I would rush out of the house as soon as possible, and stay out until bedtime, since I found Yoel more manageable outside.

I didn’t know how long I could go on like this…

And then a mom who reads my blog, Chaya Cohen, wrote me one day to recommend that I take the Chanoch Lnaar course which, she explained, had empowered her with the skills necessary to mother her own rambunctious boys.

So I did register, and by the end of the first class I was addicted…

Week by week, Dina Friedman provided me with exactly the tools that I needed to mother my Yoel. She taught me how to nurture him, and empower him, and discipline him, and generally understand what makes him tick, so that I could be the best possible mother for him.

Yoel today, b”H, is a different kid. While my only son definitely still keeps me on my toes and challenges me in ways that my girls never did, it would not be an exaggeration to say that mothering Yoel today is a total pleasure (well, at least most of the time…)

Yoel today is more confident and calmer and happier. And I am too, because of Dina Friedman.

This year, every morning when Yoel walks into his cheider, I can see his teacher’s face light up.

But that’s not such a surprise. My face lights up too every time my Yoel walks in through the front door.

My angel (well, at least most of the time…) My only son. My Yoel.

Watch the new amazing promotional video for the Chanoch Lnaar parenting course, which will be starting November 27th. Every woman who registers for the course will automatically enter the raffle to win the Chanoch Lnaar Deluxe Package for free (a prize worth $500).

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Here’s a 13-minute mommy peptalk I made called “10 Reasons I’m Thanking Dina Friedman” about the top 10 parenting tips I learned from Dina’s course.
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This Week's Mommy Peptalk: The Eternal People and the Jewish Mom
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7 comments

  1. Nice post! It’s great to hear how a parenting course can be so effective.

  2. Does this work for 13 month olds? I have 2 girls and then my one boy who is 13 months. And he is the hardest kid ever. I took my daughter and a friend to a childrens playroom here and my son just clung to me and fussed the entire time. A friend commented, ‘Oh that’s a great playroom cuz it’s so good for your baby’s age too’ and I was like “this kid is horrible!’ then I corrected myself and explained how he never plays with anything. He loves me (boruch Hashem!) and wants me and only me all day long. When he naps, I am free and I don’t know what to do first.
    Everyone just tells me “yup, that’s your boy!” I forgot to mention that he is happy but only outside. And then I have to follow him around while he goes up and down steps and tries to get into the street. I always had hope that this was just a stage but I’m hearing more and more how this is boys. The moment the door is open, they just want to get out.
    So, what do you think – how old does this “mommy training for a boy” work for?

    • I don’t know the answer to your question!
      I see that you wrote 2 different aspects: clinging to you and running free. That may have to do with security so it may help.
      On a practical note, I do clearly remember that when my quite wild boy was 18 months old, I was so excited! I saw a bit difference because he started PLAYING and being interested in things! I found the same as he started really learning in school, and when he started reading: he finally had things to keep himself busy that didn’t require energy from me and weren’t destructive!

    • I don’t know if the techniques provided in the class work for such a young child…While I think that you could still gain a ton from the class for your daughters, and some of the general hashkafa of the class would be helpful for your son, I think the class’ techniques are generally meant for children starting at age 2. If this behavior is still going on in a year, then dina spends several classes working on exactly this issue you are struggling with– a stage 1 child, or maybe stage 2.

    • My oldest was like that. Well, he wasn’t clingy at home but he did try to “escape” whenever the door opened. And I had to chase him around–he would crawl for blocks. Clinging at a friend’s house is normal, wanting your attention and interaction at home is also normal. Clinging to you and never playing on his own, even for a few minutes, might be extreme but it doesn’t sound like this is the case. I would be happy to give you some suggestions via the phone–Chana Jenny has my info.

  3. Baruch Hashem I have six “Yoel’s each one is more creative then the next. Thanks to Jenny, last year I signed up for Dina Friedman’s parenting class. I had also been to many parenting workshops and read a lot of books, tapes shiurim etc. Dina’s class helped transform my home and myself. She teaches the theories behind her very very practical applications. She also connects it all to our relationship to Hashem. I know that the course is a little pricey but it is worth it. If anyone is debating to take it I would love to help.
    ahavya@gmail.com

  4. “My calm angel had been replaced by a Tasmanian devil.”

    So what happened?

    It’s not like he was difficult from day one. So what’s his inherent nature – wild or calm? Sounds like he started out calm and something happened to change him into a ‘devil.’ To me, that’s the intriguing part of your story. You knew how to parent him until he was three and then POOF, you didn’t?

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