My Sleepyhead Daughter Miracle

My Sleepyhead Daughter Miracle

In honor of Rosh Hodesh Kislev (or, as Yaakov calls it, “Rosh Chodesh Sufgania”) I wanted to share a big parenting miracle which happened to me this very week.

First of all, some background. Last year, my old friend Sarah Greenberg highly recommended that I learn about a certain approach to parenting (known in Israel as the “Shefer Approach”) which she studied and found extremely helpful. So last month, when I saw a flyer advertising a 20-week course in this approach, I signed up.

You might wonder why I still need to take parenting classes after all these years raising all these kids and taking all the parenting classes I’ve already taken. But parenting is always challenging, no matter how long you’ve been doing it, and I find taking new parenting class, and not just relying on the things I’ve already learned, gives me a weekly burst of inspiration and insights and skills to propel me more happily and sane-ly through my mothering life.

During our second class, our teacher, educational counselor Hagit bar Asher, explained that every time children misbehave it is because, with this misbehavior, they are achieving a certain emotional reaction they subconsciously desire to bring about in the mother.

A child fails in school because he subconsciously craves his mother’s pity every time he brings home another 50 on a test.

Another child teases the baby, since she subconsciously craves her mother’s anger at her every time she makes the baby cry.

Another child criticizes her mother for this and that, since she subconsciously craves her mother’s guilt.

So, our homework for last week was to identify a misbehavior in one of our children, and remove our emotional reaction. And thereby, Hagit suggested, we would be able to remove the misbehavior as well.

The next morning I found myself trying, yet again, without success to wake up my perpetually sleepy-headed 1st grader, Tsofia Bat-Tsion, known to all Weisbergs as Tsoofy.

Like every morning, at 7:15 I tried to wake her up with a sweet, gentle, “Tsoofy, time to wake up, Chamuda.”

And then, like every morning, at 7:25 I went upstairs again to wake her up with a sweet, gentle, “Tsoofy, come on, it’s getting late, time to get up.”

And then, again, like every morning, at 7:35, I went upstairs again and found Tsoofy sound asleep, in dreamland, under her blanket. And by then, like every morning, I had had enough! I pulled off her blanket, fuming: “Tsoofy, you are going to be late for school! And I am not going to write you a late note for your teacher!” and then I pulled her downstairs, crying, where I dressed her and brushed her hair and fed her some breakfast so she’d be ready to go when the older neighbor that takes her to school came by to pick her up.

And then, the following morning, as I was walking to Tsoofy’s room to wake her up at 7:15, I asked myself what emotional reaction Tsoofy was achieving with her stubborn sleepy-headedness. Which no stick chart or promises of prizes or even threats could do away with. And I realized that Tsoofy, for whatever reason, craved my daily anger and frustration every AM. Take that away, Hagit had promised, and I would do away with the misbehavior.

So that morning, I told Tsoofy sweetly and gently, “This morning, I am only going to come to wake you up twice. If you keep on sleeping, you will be late to school.”

And sure enough, Tsoofy kept on sleeping, coming down at 7:50, not ready when the neighbor came to pick her up, and I took her to school late after I’d dropped off her two younger brothers at gan.

And now, for the last three mornings, Tsoofy has been downstairs, dressed and cheerful, eating cereal by 7:30 AM. No kidding. Sleepy-head Tsoofy became an early-riser. My first miracle, I hope of many, in this month of miracles.


  1. Hooray – what a difference it makes when the morning goes smoothly! Hope it continues to go well!

    (I would be wary, though, of concluding that the Shefer interpretation of the situation is correct. It is also possible that you were her “snooze button”, and when the button “broke” she discovered she decided to get up herself, since she did not enjoy being late.)

  2. BH may it continue! Please also continue sharing the teachings and your journey.

  3. Where/How do I sign up for this classes 🙂

    • anyone who wants the info can contact me, last class for new students to join in this wednesday …

  4. thank you for sharing! shabbat shalom.

  5. I reccomend Gishat Shefer highly. Very insightful approach that focuses more on inner work than specific techniques.

  6. Great! Love it!
    I found the same worked for decreasing kids’ fights.
    They often fought for parental reaction…
    Detach, and the fighting decreases.

  7. Dr. Miriam Adahan does not approve of the Sheffer method (also known as Adler approach). I spoke just yesterday with her about this method on the phone (as I have taken this Sheffer/Adler course myself in the past). Dr. Miriam Adahan’s opinion about this method is that it teaches parents to ignore their kids (teaching parents “adishut”). When what the kids most need is positive attention in times where children are out in gan/school most of the day and both mothers and fathers are busy working or doing other things. Dr. Miriam Adahan is in favor of teaching children with love and emphaty to find solutions for various frustrations in life. She recounts a mother from Efrat letting her child going through the winter without a coat because he had lost it somewhere (supported by the Sheffer method). Babies who cry during the night and are left crying in distress and the parents practice ignoring the crying (supported by the Sheffer/Adler approach). I for instance was told countles times during my Sheffer course here in Betar that I was okay, that the child was not okay for misbehaving and that the child had started the misbehaviour in the first place.. This just did not sound right to me and I went on and searched for more loving approaches. Baruch HaShem I found Dr. Miriam Adahan and Sarah Chana Radcliffe, Baruch HaShem also the new book about Rebbetzin Henny Machlis is giving me much chizuk in childrearing (Emounah with Love and Chickensoup).
    I think that emotional detachment is to use, if we can not give positive attention right in this moment. Emotional detachment is for sure better than giving negative attention, but if we have the resources.. why not give love, emphaty and our time to find a solution together with the child.

    • hi rachel, I hear what you are saying, years ago I heard a lecture on the Shefer method which came across as harsh. The teacher I am studying with now is a gentle, warm person. I think with every method, pretty much, the person teaching presents the method in their own way, with their own flavor. And, as with every approach, it’s really important to avoid extremes, as you say.

      by the way, I highly recommend Sarah Chana Radcliffe’s daily parenting email–like putting yourself on a healthy parenting IV. Readers can sign up at

  8. From what I remember from the Shefer course that I took a few years ago, the main point of kids behaviour is to get attention, whether in a positive or negative way. Not necessarily because they crave the guilt or the anger or whatever in the mother, but because they want attention (and as we know even negative attention is attention to a kid!) If you haven’t gotten there yet, Chana, you’ll learn that part of the approach is also positive reinforcement and encouragement to replace the negative attention.

    Personally, I didn’t find the shefer approach so helpful, but then I took it when my oldest was 2 so maybe it wasn’t as applicable at the time.

  9. Honestly I think I need a different parenting class for each child, for each different stage of their lives!!!! I think when it all gets too overwhelming, some good old fashioned much-needed work on my rusty middot usually helps for a bit…. until the next drama!!

    This particular story had a good ending for you because you were able to take her later: what if you’d had an important appointment that day, or had to get to work…. or what if she couldnt care less if she’s late or not, quite enjoying the extra me time with mummy…. my boys would not have caved so easily on that one!! I would have to make their extra time at home being late total hell for them to not repeat a sleep in!!

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