Monday, January 14, 2019

Timing is Everything


“The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.”

Joshua Harris







There is much to be said about the education that schools give our children. For generations people have been asking why certain subjects are taught while other lessons are ignored.



Many also ask why certain life skills aren’t taught in school.



For those important lessons that kids need to learn, but aren’t being taught in school, parents have the following two choices:

Parents can teach them to their kids on their own, or they can abstain, insisting that it is the school’s job to teach such things.



One life lesson that children and adults need to learn is timing.



When is a good time? When is a bad time? How can one decipher?



My first introduction to this was my teacher in elementary school, Mr. Paul Schwartz. What made him extra special was the fact that in addition to teaching the syllabus, he also tried to teach lessons on life.



As per the rules of the school, students needed to get their parents to sign their graded tests. Whenever Mr. Schwartz would give the tests back, he would tell us the following: “For those of you guys who got a bad grade, you have 2 days to bring back the test signed. If your parents are in a bad mood or angry, don’t ask them to sign your test. Their anger might become directed at you. If they are in a good mood, that’s better, but that’s still not the best time, as you don’t really want to kill their good mood. The ideal time is if you can catch your parent in a joking mood. I’ll give you 2 days, just to ensure that you can try to catch them at the ideal time.”



That lesson was probably more important than the content that was covered in the test.



I see this time and time again.



Sadly I’m also guilty of it.



We tell our children “This is not the time!”, but do we give our children the tools for recognizing when the right time is?



Do we put time into our schedule so that they have a right time, or are we so busy that there is no “good time” for them to come to us?



There is another aspect of timing that is often ignored.



Timing is a two way street.



Not only do kids need to learn about “good timing” when it comes to communicating with their parents, parents need to utilize “good timing” when conveying important messages to their children.



Just like you won’t remember things if communicated during a “bad time”, so too your children.



Perhaps the best way to teach your child about “good timing” is through modelling.



Meaning that if we want our kids to use good timing when giving us messages, we need to make sure we use good timing when giving them messages.





Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety. 

You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Behind the Words



"Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply."

-Stephen R. Covey







I failed.



There was no sugarcoating it, my friend reached out to me for help and I failed him.



We can only play the hand we are dealt. He didn’t deal me an easy hand, but that isn’t a valid excuse for my failing him.



This friend of mine is someone whom I respect. He is an absolute genius and a wonderful person.



He was already married and a father when he called me out of the blue. He wanted to ask my advice.



He felt like he was struggling with his yeshiva studies and he wanted to know what I thought about the idea of him joining a certain program. The program that he was asking about was an outreach program where one goes through a two year training period, followed by a three year period where one needs to move abroad, into a community which requires outreach.



I told him that it wasn’t for him.



I told him that his shy personality didn’t fit.



I told him a five year commitment wasn’t good for him at this stage of his life.



I told him that it wouldn’t be healthy for him and his wife to be away from their respective families.



Not to leave him empty-handed, I suggested to him to switch to a yeshiva with a different learning style (switching from nezikin to kodshim).



He thanked me, but I could tell from the way he thanked me that my words left him uncomfortable.



The next time we spoke was a few months later.



This time it was to tell me that he and his wife were getting divorced.



Then it hit me. When he called me asking about moving away to do outreach, he wasn’t asking about outreach, he was trying to let me know that he was having Shalom Bayis issues, and he just couldn’t bring himself to say it.



I didn’t put two and two together until it was too late.



Often I talk about getting people to use their voice. Using one’s voice isn’t just referring to the physical action of speaking. It also includes the ability to choose the correct words, and conveying them to the correct individual.



There are two possible reasons for why my friend didn’t outwardly mention his Shalom Bayis (marriage) issue with me earlier.

Either he was scared/uncomfortable or he himself was in denial about the main issue (marriage trouble) and he only saw the results of the issue, namely the learning.



If only I had dug deeper and not taken his question at face value.



The plot of this story is a common plot when it comes to children.



Often children will have a problem and they will be either too afraid to mention their issue, or perhaps they know there is an issue, but they don’t know the main issue. (e.g. The issue was the marriage, but all that was presented to me was the learning issues)



They will then come to the parent suggesting a remedy. (e.g. Joining the outreach program and move abroad for 3 years)



What do you do?



Do you take the question on face value?

Do you listen to their suggested solution and offer an opinion on it without knowing what it is a remedy for?



In the case of my friend, his suggested remedy would not have helped him. He would have had the same marriage issue, only now he would have already have signed himself to a 5 year commitment.



Your child’s suggestion could very well have the same issue. If you don’t know the problem how can you possibly believe that the solution would work?



Don’t be afraid to dig deeper. Get your child to open up, and if you aren’t succeeding in getting them to open up, connect them with someone who can.





Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety. 

You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com

Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here


Monday, December 24, 2018

Video Message - Children Build Bridges

Children build bridges, and parents provide them with the building materials.

Parents need to make sure that they aren't setting children up to build bridges to places where they shouldn't be going.


Monday, December 17, 2018

Implicit Communication

“I come from a part of Nigeria where a lot of value is placed on implicit communication. The 'well brought up' child is the one who can pick up nonverbal cues from adults and interpret them correctly.”
-Ayobami Adebayo




Communication is not limited to words. Feelings and desires can be communicated through other methods such as behaviors, tone of voice and hand gestures, just to name a few.

When using non verbal communication techniques, it is extremely important that both sides be on the same page.

Years ago I saw a fascinating documentary. This documentary discussed how people in different countries use different head and face gestures to communicate. Sometimes these same gestures have the opposite meaning.

For example, in the United States, if a person points his index finger above his ear and makes a circular motion, he is try to convey to people that he believes that something or someone is crazy. But that very same act in China, indicates that the person believes that “the wheel is spinning”, meaning that the person or idea in question is brilliant.

Exactly the same communication technique, very different message. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that both parties be on the same page.

I once heard a story about a US diplomat who was sent to a South American country to do some work there. In anticipation of his arrival, a party was scheduled in his honor and he was asked to speak.

The party was called for 7pm.

The diplomat arrived at 6:45pm and no one is there. The banquet hall isn’t even set up for the function. The diplomat is both confused and angry.

He waits, at 7:30 the hall gets set up.

Still no one is there. His anger becomes worse.

7:30 turns into 9pm, some guests and the organizers start trickling in.

Finally, at 10:15pm the place is full and he is handed the microphone to speak.

The diplomat is furious and insulted. He tries his best to hide his rage and he makes it through his speech.

He immediately buys the first ticket back to the USA and quits his post.

Yet all these South Americans tried to do was show him honor, yet he took it as an insult.

In this particular country, they very much believe in the phrase “the sooner we start, the sooner we finish”. It is considered an insult to start on time, as it shows the speaker that you have no interest in him i.e. you want the speaker done as soon as possible. By having the event start over 3 hours late, the people were trying to show the diplomat much respect, but he took it as an insult.

How to interpret non-verbal communication is a skill that is very hard to grasp. It is especially hard when dealing with two different people from two different backgrounds.

This is one reason why the beginning of any new relationship, whether it be marriage, new job, new friends etc can be so difficult. It takes time to learn how people work and it takes time to decipher each person’s unique set of communication codes.

Kids find it especially hard to crack the code of implicit communication. Therefore, parents should try their best to both assist their children with deciphering the codes that they’ve received as well as trying their hardest to avoid giving their kids new codes to decipher. If you have a message to give your child, try the verbal method as it leaves much less room for error.



Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.  
You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com
Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here 


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Special Guest on NAASCA - "Stop Child Abuse Now" talk show

No Article this week, I spent my time preparing to be a guest on the Stop Child Abuse Now radio show. 




The Stop Child Abuse Now radio show is part of the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA).

You can learn more about the organization here: http://www.naasca.org/main.html

The show was recorded from 3am - 4:30am local time. Here is me at 4:15am doing the show

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Willful Blindness— How Abusers Groom Kids In Plain View

There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.
-John Heywood


I recently watched a documentary on YouTube called “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”. This movie discusses how the company Enron was able to fool the world into thinking it was a profitable billion dollar company, when it was mainly just smoke and mirrors.
One of the common questions that people kept on asking throughout the film was “Why was it that no one asked? How could it be that so many people were silent?”. The signs of fraud and irregularities were there well before they were made public. So why were people both inside of the company as well as those outside of the company so quiet?
They were quiet because when the results are desirable, we don’t want to ask questions.
Those that asked questions were “encouraged” to remain silent. One questioner was fired from his position with an investing firm, and the firm immediately obtained a favorable contract with Enron after his firing.
When people or companies are providing us with what we want, why should we risk it by asking questions? Is it advisable to bite the hand that feeds us?
In legal terms this is referred to as willful blindness, and the US Supreme Court has consistently ruled that willful blindness is not valid defense.
There are too many stories of parents, teachers and communities being willfully blind to child molesters.

Former Penn State player and coach and current convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky ran an organization called The Second Mile. It was for underprivileged youth, providing help for at-risk children and support for their parents in Pennsylvania.

The signs were there, but no one wanted to think that the person helping all these underprivileged people was abusing them.

While the Sandusky case was more high profile than other cases, it was by no means unique. Many child molesters utilize this modus operandi. They put themselves into a giving position, taking a role which would leave a major void if they were removed from that position. They try to be the missing parent, the missing sibling, the missing financial provider, all in an attempt to create willful blindness.

And it works.

Rather than seeing the truth and acting accordingly, people are more afraid of potentially losing the benefits that this molester is currently providing.

People are also willfully blind because the ramifications of the truth scare them.

We as parents and community members need to stop being willfully blind. We need to realize that sometimes things ARE too good to be true when it comes to others helping our children. Most importantly, never should we ever feel that protecting our children from a molester is too big of a sacrifice.

Willfully blind doesn’t work in the short term, and it definitely doesn’t work in the long term. Learn how to ask the tough questions and ask them. Be ready to act appropriately if concerns of abuse are validated.


Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.  
You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com
Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here 




Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Products of Our Surroundings - Twitter

"Twitter is not a technology. It's a conversation. And it's happening with or without you."
-Charlene Li





There is a perspective in the social work profession known as “person-in-environment”. It states that people are a product of their environment. Social, political, familial, temporal, spiritual, economic, and physical factors combine to create this environment which shapes the individual. This concept includes the idea that one cannot adequately understand a person’s actions without consideration of the various aspects of that individual’s environment.

News stories and political climate are also part of this environment which affects us.

We are currently living in the Twitter era.

In an instant, millions of people hear one side of a story and they are immediately demanding action.

These demands are then heard by people and companies who often care more about themselves and their profits than they care about truth.

This is an idea that has been on my mind for quite some time, but recent events are causing me to write about this today.

Recently in Minnesota, a small group of African Americans walked into a fast food restaurant and attempted to place an order. The manager told them they needed to pay before they placed their order.

The consumers objected. They insisted and questioned why they were being treated differently than other customers who didn’t need to pay upfront. This entire event was videoed.

Scores of people took to social media to call on boycotting the restaurant. Many others called for the manager’s dismissal.

The company obliged and fired her.

All because of a video and post which depicted one side of the story.

As this former manager sits at home unemployed, news is breaking that these customers allegedly made a habit of taking their orders without paying.

Reports include accusations that they had even posted about this habit on their social media pages and that this restaurant had been a victim of theirs before.

So without this manager even getting the opportunity to defend herself and her decision, she lost her job.  All because people heard one side of the story and felt that they had all the facts they needed in order to act.

This case isn’t an isolated incident, and these behaviors are contagious.

Our children see this “quick to judge” mentality, and they follow suit. They are living in this “twitter/quick judge” age.

Living in a society which demands immediate judgment and action not only affects our children, but it rubs off on us as well.

Do we give our children the opportunity to defend themselves, or do we immediately believe the teacher when they call us to complain about our child’s behavior?

If we judge our children without hearing them first, we have added more “quick-judge” to their already “quick-judge” environment.

If we want to break the cycle and if we want to raise children who are able to hear all sides prior to forming an opinion, these lessons need to start at home. These lessons can’t be verbal, our children need to see that this is how we act with them and with others. That’s how we can break this destructive habit.

Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker who lives in Jerusalem. He has a private practice which specializes in working with people of all ages helping them understand their own thought processes, enabling them to improve their level of functioning, awareness, social skills and more. He also lectures on the topics of communication and child safety.  
You can email Yisroel at yisroel@ympicker.com
Follow Yisroel on LinkedIn here