Category Archives: Self Help

Parenting by Design: The 5-Level Method for Raising Younger Children, by Rabbi Yisrael Kleinman, LMSW

Parenting by Design, published by ArtScroll as part of its Pocket Scroll series of easily portable books, is a small tome with a big message.

parenting by design coverParenting expert Rabbi Kleinman shares the five-step approach he’s developed to help parents raise their children more effectively, calmly — and happily for all concerned.

Unlike some books that discuss philosophies of childrearing or offer sweeping generalizations, Parenting by Design is straightforward and practical.

Rabbi Kleinman teaches parents how to categorize an interaction with a child quickly, figure out an appropriate immediate response, and plan a long-term strategy to address the issue.

Throughout the book, he offers examples that most parents will recognize. He presents us with a fictitious family — parents and several young children, each with his or her own issues — and walks us through how the parents apply the 5-Level method to each of the children’s various problems, changing their approach to reflect the changes in their children.

The method is fairly easy to understand and practice. The chapters include worksheets for parents to apply the 5-Level method to the specific concerns they may have regarding their own children.

After spending some time teaching the method, the book then addresses specific topics, such as teaching truthfulness and dealing with the inflexible child. Perhaps one of the most important chapters is the one in which Rabbi Kleinman shows how parents can use the method on themselves, to deal with their anger.

Some readers may initially balk. Faced with overwhelming pressures of work, housekeeping chores, making Shabbos and Yom Tov, tackling laundry, paying bills, fielding kids’ arguments and trying desperately to get their offspring to behave or go to bed, parents may wonder where in the world they’re supposed to find the time to learn the method and plan their strategies. But Rabbi Kleinman’s examples clearly show how the initial investment is likely to pay off, with a family that runs more smoothly with a lot less stress and more joy.

As the book’s tagline says, it is aimed at parents of young children. What even a parent of older children can take away from Parenting by Design is the reminder of just how mindful, thoughtful and deliberate parenting must be. There is no instant, just-add-water method of raising happy, functional, emotionally well-adjusted children who will be a source of nachas.

The method will work only when parents — ideally, two of them working together to develop a strategic plan — take the time to reflect on a child’s issues and develop tailor-made protocols for both the short and long term. In other words, parenting by coasting along, or winging it, probably isn’t going to work that well.

It takes parenting by design.

Fortunately, Rabbi Klein is there to provide parents with the blueprint and the tools.

Buy now from Amazon.

Published by ArtScroll.

We received a review copy from the publisher.

The Missing Peace by Esther Gendelman and Rochel Stein

The Missing Peace is all about relationships.

Relationships. Can’t live without them, but they sure can be hard to live with sometimes…

the missing piece cover

·       Have you ever had an argument with someone and felt like they just weren’t getting it?

·       Did someone ever suddenly explode at you, and yet you can’t figure out why in the world they were upset?

·       Do you know what it’s like to have a best friend let you down and then have the incident leave a grain of resentment that just won’t go away?

The Missing Peace addresses a wide variety of possible interactions between two people. At some point while reading this book, most people will come across one, and probably more, chapters that will make them wonder when the authors were eavesdropping on them.

We’ve all had relationships — with parents, bosses, spouses, kids, neighbors, mothers-in-law — go a little haywire occasionally. Even in those cases when it seems there’s nothing to do, Esther Gendelman and Rochel Stein think exercising our imaginations a little bit may help a great deal.

Unlike most self-help books, this one reads like a novel. The bulk of the book consists of chapters that present both sides of a situation in which there is conflict between two people. The characters are drawn with such empathy that I often found myself reaching for tissues. And there were some chapters that I wished could have kept going, because I wanted to find out “the end of the story.”

There is no end to the story. 

Even when everyone loves each other and has everyone’s best interests at heart, conflicts and crises arise and we can’t pretend they won’t happen. For example, some of the chapters raise the following hard situations:

·       The married kids, debating whether or not to ask their parents for financial help for the grandkids.

·       The harried mother perplexed by her sixteen year old’s explosion because no one thought to save her a slice of pizza — while she was off having lunch elsewhere.

·       The human resources person who has to lay-off a good employee.

·       The doctor’s wife, trying to protect what little family time her husband has from the real needs of patients in the community

·       The widowed mother whose son-in-law has just found the perfect kollel — half-way round the world.

·       Friends who do favors for each other, but are hurt when they feel the other friend doesn’t respond in the same way in turn.

There are many more chapters. It isn’t hard to see these are situations fraught with emotional challenges.

What makes this book special is how it presents both sides to every dilemma from inside each character’s head.

Because the material is presented in this way, just reading the chapters in Parts I and II, without any resolution to the problems, is already eye-opening. It’s a vibrantly graphic, emotionally gripping way to remind us that there are always two sides to a story. Before flying off the handle next time, or retreating into a wounded sulk, maybe we, too, can exercise our imaginations to see our incident from the other person’s point of view. Doing that for a moment or two can sometimes be enough to turn the flame down on anger or hurt.

Part III, “Reclaiming the Missing Piece,” is where the authors pull it all together by offering a step-by-step approach on how some of the situations could be handled in a way that increases growth and shalom.

They outline what they call “ICARE: Internal Compassion and Relationship Enhancement,” through a series of questions individual can work through as they try to get an emotional handle on a challenging situation. As we can only ever change ourselves, not other people, the questions are designed to lead readers toward greater self-awareness, with a focus on achieving shalom and using challenging experience to develop their middos.

 And for those who are still desperate to know the ending of some of the stories in the chapters, the authors illustrate how the questionnaire works by using it to interview a few of the characters we’ve met in the book. We see them struggling through their issues and trying to figure out what triggered their hurt or anger and why, and how they can develop more compassion, not just for the other person in their conflict, but for themselves, too.

A very creative book, with the potential to help people navigate and grow through their relationships with greater shalom and compassion.

Published by Menucha Publishers.

We received a review copy from the publisher.



Everyday Wholeness by D.B. Estrin

Everday Wholeness, self-coaching for the Jewish family by D.B. Estrin is here to help you.

Everyday Wholeness by DB EstrinEveryday life just got even better!

From the back cover:

Wouldn’t it be great to have your very own life coach, devoted to helping you reach higher levels of personal fulfillment, cheering you on, encouraging you not to give up on your sincerest dreams
and ideals?

Someone who could help you set realistic yet exciting
goals, make them accessible in daily doses, ushering you into a life with greater self-development and personal success?

Everyday Wholeness is like sitting down with your own private life coach for a warm cup of coffee each day. Step by step, topics such as mindful eating, effective communicating, expert home organizing, and improved family life are tackled from their practical, emotional, and spiritual planes.

Experienced life coach Dena B. Estrin leads us through the new and wondrous world of coaching, introducing us to practical insights and techniques to uplift and transform our lives, one day at a time. Everyday life will never be the same again!

The book comes with a haskamah from Harav Zev Leff:

“I recommend this book to those who want to improve their life skills in order to lead better Torah lives.”

It also received an endorsement from Gila Manolson, author of The Magic Touch and Outside In:

“Humorous, engaging, and utterly delightful, this book
presents down-to-earth, compelling wisdom for living — a
true guidebook for well-being.”

Buy now from Amazon.

Published by Menucha Publishers.



How Free Will Works by Dovid Lieberman

The quality of our lives comes down to the quality of our choices. That’s the bottom line that prompted How Free Will Works: The Blueprints to Take Charge of Your Life, Health and Happiness, by Dovid Lieberman.

How Free Will Works by David LiebermanDr. Lieberman is a psychologist, with many other books to his belt.

This is not just a philosophical work. The book doesn’t try to prove the existence of free will – it assumes that, within certain parameters, there is always a responsible choice to be made, and goes from there.

As the subtitle indicates, this is what many would probably call a self-help book. Dr. Lieberman takes readers through practical steps to help them actualize their potential.

From the back cover:

Drawn from classic sources, How Free Will Works explores the elegant relationship between Divine providence and free will — and illuminates the connections among themes such as: miracles, mazal, happiness, cause and effect, Heavenly decree, nature, success, tikun, self-esteem, destiny, teshuvah, prayer, mental illness, anxiety, mitzvos, emunah and bitachon, suffering, fear, pleasure, anger, and will power.

How Free Will Works sheds fascinating light on the cosmic network of interlacing forces that operate in creation — such as Divine providence, mazal, and prayer — and reveals the power and parameters assigned to each.

More valuable still, this groundbreaking achievement explains how free will intersects with, and impacts on, these forces — which give us the practical and near-magical ability to maximize opportunities,sidestep unnecessary hardship and heartache, and transform our emotional, spiritual, and physical health.

As the dazzling design and sweeping influence of free will emerges, we move in a world that offers us a different experience. and it will become increasingly difficult — if not inconceivable — for us to ignore the one truth that will become so patently obvious: we control the quality of our lives.

This is a book that has enormous potential to improve people’s lives in a very meaningful way. It shows readers ways to find fulfillment, to engage in life, to reignite their purpose, no at matter what stage in life they may find themselves, by reconnecting with their neshamah.

Dr. Lieberman was interviewed about his sefer on the OU’s Savitsky Talks podcasts. You can listen to it here.

Published by Feldheim.

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Dr. Lieberman is also the author of 10 previous books, which have been translated into 26 languages and include two New York Times bestsellers. Among them:

Real Power by David Lieberman






Get anyone to do anything book cover by David Lieberman

Teens Talk by Malka Katzman

Teens Talk by Malka Katzman is a book about the inner-most secrets of friends you wish you’d had when you were in high school.

Teens Talk by Malka KatzmanIt took a while to be able to review this book, because my teens took it and wouldn’t give it back!

That should tell us all we need to know about it.

The true stories of twenty-two teenage girls are presented in a diary-like format. Each chapter is about a different girl and situation. Teens Talk offers an intimate exploration of the complicated issues young people must grapple with.

There’s the  girl who fears she’s got a terrible illness.

One of the girls, Malka, is leaving behind everything she knows to move to a new country.  Anyone who’s ever moved as a child will relate to what she’s going through.

Another is shocked when she learns why she’s lost her best friend.  What teen doesn’t have bumpy patches with friends?

The issues are the kind that can take over a teen’s entire world.  While learning how each kid faced her challenge, readers are bound to identify with much of what they are going through.

Teens Talk is an opportunity for teenage girls to read about people like themselves.  At this delicate developmental stage, it’s vital for them to see they aren’t alone, even when they have problems and fears that they might not have admitted to their best friend.

There aren’t many books specifically for frum teens, so this is an important contribution for a group of readers that could use a lot more attention.

I’d recommend the book to parents as well. It’s an important reminder of what it is like to be a teenager.  Carefree, it’s not.  Reading this may make us all a bit kinder, a bit more patient and understanding toward those sometimes challenging young people.

From Israel Bookshop Publications.

We received a review copy of this book.

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