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11/2/2016 - Professionally Speaking: A Psychologist’s Perspective by Dr. Gabriel Weill

, a clinical and educational psychologist who serves as a volunteer consultant at Negba.
One must understand the social background of Negba’s families in order to understand the design of Negba’s clubs:
Children living in low socioeconomic neighborhoods do attend formal educational frameworks in the morning hours. But in Israel, with school beginning early at 8:00 am and ending early around 1:00-2:00 pm, there are many hours each day that the children are alone. Their parents are either at work, and those that are home due to unemployment or other reasons are not equipped to provide their children an enriching after-school framework.

From here, the complications begin. Older children are subject to the temptations of the streets- smoking, fights, and other delinquent behavior. Other children spend hours at home watching TV or surfing the Internet, disconnected from reality in an equally as dangerous virtual world.

It is in this climate that Negba’s clubs enter the picture and aim to fill a need: to provide a social and educational context that complements the morning school framework, one which provides positive engagement, stimulation and consistent learning in a safe and protective environment.

Many of these children lack good habits and possess a low frustration threshold, making it difficult for them to adjust to an environment containing limits. And the children and used to a confused parenting environment in which their parents don’t know how to say "no." Many of their parents experienced childhood in a patriarchal environment in which a parent’s word was sacred, and there was unquestioned reverence for parental authority.

Here in Israel the social context is so different that a lot of parents do not know how to exercise authority (particularly when physical punishment is no longer acceptable). They expect to be respected, but do not realize that they must invest efforts to gain admiration in the eyes of their children. Many parents are uncomfortable disciplining their kids, and an atmosphere of permissiveness exists since parents do not want to seem “old fashioned.” As a result their children do whatever they want. Other parents are simply preoccupied with the daily struggle to make ends meet, leaving no time for their children, and when they do find some time they lack the skills to effectively engage them.

At Negba’s clubs, the children learn to compose themselves. There are rules and regulations, and the kids must adapt. The rules are consistent and based on common sense. The children receive guidance from counselors, and learn how to communicate in a normative social environment. The counselors behave consistently and with a calm demeanor, creating a positive chemistry with each child, and over time positive behavior patterns are developed and internalized.

This is one of the many rehabilitative aspects of Negba’s clubs.

The Professionally Speaking column periodically invites a specialist to share a point of view on Negba’s activities and provide insight into the lives of Negba’s children.

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