Rav Gershon Edelstein, rosh yeshiva of Ponovezh Yeshiva, offered powerful chinuch guidance for parents grappling with children at home who are unmotivated, lazy or not following normal schedules.
Rav Edelstein was asked a common question: Many parents are wondering what to do about their children at home, ages 12 and older, who, due to the corona lockdown, are sleeping a lot, waking up late, and so on. The question was: How much should parents be strict about them keeping zeman Krias Shema and the like?
Rav Edelstein’s immediate response was: “B’darkei noam. Rak b’darkei noam. Beli kefiah,” meaning, “In a pleasant manner, only in a pleasant manner, and without forcing.”
Rav Edelstein added that “a child knows what is proper,” and parents have to give him encouragement to want to do it and have a cheishek to do it.
“Forcing is the exact opposite,” said Rav Gershon. “It has no [positive] influence at all!” He added, “To force a child is forbidden!”
“Chinuch with forcing is backwards chinuch,” said Rav Edelstein. “The result is backwards. It must be done only with friendship, with love.
Rav Edelstein then said, “In general, a child will do what his father does.”
He repeated, “Rak b’darkei noam. Only in a pleasant manner.”
“He should not feel that he’s being criticized. If a child feels criticized, it causes a lot of hurt. This brings a child to prikas ohl (discarding responsibility). Don’t criticize. In general, this is an important rule in chinuch. A child should never feel that he is being criticized.”