• Yehudit Zicklin-Sidikman

The Messages We Give Our Children -- Part 2

Updated: Mar 6



From a very early age, children get used to hearing messages like, “I’m busy” and “don’t bother me.”

Yes, that can be good. It’s an example of boundary setting.

“I can’t play legos with you now, I’m cooking.”

“I can’t talk to you now, I’m working.”

“I’m on the phone and will come find you when I am done.”

But these messages can also be problematic. We want our kids to know that they, in an emergency, can always come to us, and that we are there for them.


But these messages can also be problematic. We want our kids to know that they, in an emergency, can always come to us, and that we are there for them.

How do we explain the difference?

In Empowerment Self Defense classes for kids, we teach the kids and the adults who take care of them to create a code word or phrase that signifies that there’s an urgent need to talk NOW.

“Alligator.” “Ice-cream.” “Umbrella.” I don’t care. The code can be anything.

In some cases, families decide to use a phrase like, “It’s an El HaLev thing.”

Whatever the code is, it’s a signal that the adult needs to immediately drop everything and talk.


Whatever the code is, it’s a signal that the adult needs to immediately drop everything and talk.

But for this to work, and to avoid “Crying Wolf” scenarios, we need to make sure our children understand when to use it and what danger means.

“There is NO MORE ketchup!” That’s not an emergency. And yes, I need to explain what I mean by “urgent” and “emergency”. But no ketchup? Nope. Not at all.

“I don’t like the way [insert name of adult] hugged me.” That’s the time for the code.

“So-and-so is coming over and they make me uncomfortable.” That is urgent.

Have you tried this with your kids?


<<< Part 1 | Part 3 >>>

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