Poker Chip Parenting (Video)

This extremely powerful parenting video made me laugh and it brought tears to my eyes too. I have been looking for this video for years, since my teacher Rabbanit Yemima has been imploring us moms for as long as I can remember to follow its advice. This video is a 11-minute course in Childhood Self Esteem 101…



    Do you agree with him that if the bus driver is nasty, it eliminates all the “poker chips” that his mother gave him in that lovely morning with her child?

    The “emotional bank account” idea works differently than that. By the mother being so kind that morning, she filled up the emotional bank account that she has with her son and nobody outside the house can empty that account! Her son has a different “emotional bank account” with the bus driver than he has with her.

  2. I think you’re both right – it will certainly take away some of his chips – a comment from a stranger can still hurt, but it won’t destroy his self confidence completely. More worrying is why is someone with that attitude driving a school bus?? i know it’s only an example, but it demonstrates that however much we boost/shelter/nurture our children, they are still at the mercy of people in the outside world who may not be so kind to them. I guess if the kid has a big enough emotional bank account, he will be able to let things like this just slide over him.

  3. JewishMom

    My parenting teacher Dina Friedman talks about filling up a child’s “Confidence Box.” And that we need to teach our children that they should not let anybody remove “poker chips” from their confidence box (she doesn’t use that phrase, but I think that’s what she means) unless that person loves them. This means that children learn not to take all negative comments and criticisms to heart.

    Using this approach, the child learns that the nasty bus driver or the class bully is not entitled to remove poker chips from his or her confidence box.

    But I think that while this is a powerful and empowering idea, I also think this is a VERY hard thing to teach a child (or an adult, for that matter).

    • That’s a really clever idea, I like it – it feels right to put it like that. It’s intuitive really – if a mother/spouse/BFF said “you’re stupid” for example, it would hurt much more than if someone you never met before said it.

  4. Hadassah Aber

    I am teaching my class of 3-4 year olds how to respond to others who call them a “baby” by answering,”I’m most certainly not!” It takes a lot for them to learn that just because someone says something about you, it doesn’t make it true. The other comment that they don’t like hearing is someone telling them, “I’m not your friend.” I am still working on a positively worded response such as, “I would like to be your friend.”

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