Dedicated to two California "girls" who celebrated milestone birthdays in S.F. this week, Susan D. and my dear mother. May you live till 120! as the saying goes.
Do you know any 5-15-year-old kids?
If so, I have a special announcement for you, after the story.
I walk into the play room. There are three children there. One (7 yrs old) is looking at a book on the couch. One (5) is playing with cars on the floor. One (3) is doing a puzzle on the floor.
I see bits of paper scattered over a large area of the floor. It looks like someone went crazy with a pair of scissors.
"Oh," I remark. "Look at all this paper."
"I didn't do it!" says the 7 year old.
"I didn't do it!" says the 5 year old.
"I din do it!" agrees the 3 year old.
"He did it," says the 7 year old.
"She did it," says the 5 year old.
"I din DO it," says the 3 year old.
Question - How do you teach children to speak truthfully and to take ownership of their actions?
Perhaps today's announcement is a step in that direction....
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Our humanity is defined largely by what comes out of our mouth. All animals communicate with each other, but we alone have speech. This is why spiritually-oriented people tend to be attentive to what goes in and out of their mouths.
(Drum roll please…)
Today we are launching a national project called "I guard my tongue!" We think that the best way to teach elevated speech is to make it a positive, happy thing that children can proudly wear on their sleeves.
We have created the first of a series of J-Wristbands. One side reads, "I GUARD MY TONGUE" and the other side says "SMIRAT HALASHON" in Hebrew letters.
You can order them here for all the kids you know.
But it won't be meaningful just to give a child a wristband. You first have to teach them the beauty of the mitzvah of positive speech (and avoiding negative speech). Get them excited about it, then ask them if they would like to have a wristband to help them remember to do it. The price (for them) of the wristband is to commit not to speak negatively about anyone else.
(If you would like to use our formal lesson plan on this topic, send an email.)
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen. - Churchill