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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Jedi Israeli parental mind trick

I'm sure that most of you are familiar with the Jedi mind trick that allowed Star War's Jedi warriors to influence/change the thoughts of weaker minded beings with a wave of their hand.  Well, I finally wised up to the fact that most Israeli parents use a similar trick in dealing with their young children.

Picture this:

A little Israeli kid is swinging happily on the monkey bars at the playground while his/her mom or dad sits nearby chatting with a friend.  Suddenly the kid slips and lands in a crumpled heap in the sand.  There is a brief moment of silence while the kid starts to work up a head of steam for a good bout of tears, during which the parent calmly walks over... helps the kid up... dabs sand and blood off of knees and elbows... and effortlessly performs the Jedi Israeli parental mind trick with the following magic words:

"Lo Karah Kloom!"
[translation: Nothing happened]

The only thing missing from this little trick is the trademark Jedi hand wave in front of the victim's kid's face.  But miraculously, unless there is some truly serious bodily injury, this trick works every time. 

A few sniffles may escape before the mind trick has a chance to do its magic... but within seconds the kid is back swinging on the monkey bars as if nothing had ever happened.

I'm not implying (G-d forbid) that kids are weak-minded beings.  But I have to admit that I've tried this little parental mind trick on our youngest after he's taken a spill, and it works like a charm!

Don't believe me?  Try it yourself.

Don't thank me... I'm a giver.

Posted by David Bogner on August 22, 2007 | Permalink


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LOL... I wonder if that would work on my boss.

Posted by: Tina-cious.com | Aug 22, 2007 6:52:50 PM

The Jedi Mind trick has saved my life on more than one occasion. One of these days I'll have to blog about it.

Posted by: Jack | Aug 22, 2007 7:04:35 PM

I once was on a train, and this kid was running up and down the aisles gleefully, when he tripped. I watched him look up, wait till he caught his parents' eyes, and then (only then!) did he start crying. Crazy kids.

Posted by: ilan | Aug 22, 2007 7:40:31 PM

I think the trick is universal, and not limited to Israelis. I have seen many parents, myself included, go the kids with a "nothing happened", while trying to convince the poor child that everything is OK. It all depends on the parent's reaction to the kid's fall/injury.

David S.

Posted by: David S. | Aug 22, 2007 7:46:31 PM

Come on, Trep...I don't even have kids, and I know this trick!

When the kiddo goes boom, and looks up, trying to decide whether or not to cry, you simply smile and say "You're ok!". And they go back to playing, with no tears.

Posted by: Cara | Aug 22, 2007 8:05:12 PM

Or, even better, if you know they're OK...don't make eye contact. Once the kid realizes there's nodoby to fuss, they'll get up, dust themselves off and go back to playing.

Learned after working daycare, summer camp, and being a ski instructor for the better part of 2 decades!

Posted by: Jesse | Aug 22, 2007 8:07:58 PM

It can also work this way: When I fall, my almost-5-year-old goes, "Hahahahaha," so I say, "Nothing happened!"

Posted by: Yaron | Aug 22, 2007 8:42:58 PM

Yes, it really works.

And this always worked when #1 didn't want to work: "Look! The pavement/grass/flower/ice/sandbox/wall is still whole! Nothing broken! Yay you!"

Posted by: a. | Aug 22, 2007 9:28:27 PM

I don't know whether this is true, but I heard a mother tell the story of her daughter who fell badly while playing soccer, and the mother told her to "walk it off," which she did, and eventually continued playing. The pain did not really go away, and the emergency room found that she had broken her pelvis.

Posted by: Barzilai | Aug 22, 2007 9:33:43 PM

So now I know what I am. I'm a Jedi!

Posted by: Avner | Aug 23, 2007 12:37:29 AM


Can't be true. You cannot walk on a broken pelvis.

In my decades long experience as a referee, I have never -- repeat, NEVER -- seen a mother tell her kid to 'walk it off'. I have seen uncounted mothers dash onto the pitch to scoop up their bruised darlings and carry them off the field. In hysterics because 'my baby' was down. This teaches kids to overreact to injury. I wonder what they will do when they have a serious injury -- car smash up, chain saw slip -- to deal with.

BTW 'walk it off' sounds so muh like the advice of a American-style football coach that the story is dubious from that perspective. I have never heard a coach in any other sport tell a player to 'walk it off'.

Having dealt with a multitude of children -- including my own -- I have found that the best thing I could do was project calm and get the kid focused on something besides the boo-boo. If it was serious enough to warrant first aid, I applied first aid -- bandages, antiseptic -- but without tears and wailing.

I don't know about saying 'Nothing happened'. Clearly _something_ happened. But how does it measure up on life's scale? Maybe look the kid in the eye and ask, "Shall I call the press? Think it'll make the six o'clock news?"

Once when my daughter fell (pretty hard, too) she looked to me for my reaction. I laughed. She laughed back. With tears in her eyes from the hurt, but she laughed. Five minutes later, the fall was forgotten.

Posted by: antares | Aug 23, 2007 12:37:51 AM

Hi Trep,

*** Does it work on adults... like, let's say, a boss? ***

Don't thank me... I'm a giver.

LOL ;o)


Posted by: Maksim-Smelchak. | Aug 23, 2007 1:23:42 AM

NOTE: It's a parental mind trick. Siblings can't do it. I know this from personal experience. Many was the time I tried to convince my younger brother that "nothing happened" (after I accidently tripped him or perhaps even not so accidently reminded him who the big brother was). The crybaby's injury always seemed to intensify the more I insisted that he was unhurt. Odd that.

Posted by: Bob | Aug 23, 2007 3:55:06 AM

I remember hearing, as a kid: "You're alright." And you know, it worked!

Posted by: Steve Bogner | Aug 23, 2007 5:54:34 AM

We are fond of the "brush it off" approach. when I think of people playing sports with injuries, all I can think of is Keri Strug. . .

Posted by: AnnieD | Aug 23, 2007 8:23:57 AM

With practice, this can work on adults, too. Such as your spouse.


Posted by: Yehuda Berlinger | Aug 23, 2007 8:48:25 AM

I question the propriety of 'lo kara klum.'
Denying that anything happened is a denial of the kids feelings, but saying 'it's alright' or 'you'll be okay' is validating, and it accomplishes the same goal.

Posted by: dave | Aug 23, 2007 8:50:11 AM

A scene from a family hotel I used to frequent: A child, maybe two years old, trips on the carpet in the lobby & falls down. Looks around, sees no familiar faces. Calmly begins to pick herself up, when a frantic woman (one assumes, the mother) comes running up saying, "Oy vey, you fell down!! Are you all right?!!!" The little girl promptly lies back down on the carpet and begins to sob. All witnessed by yours truly. Which is why, when my own kids take a harmless tumble, I say the equivalent of "Lo kara kloom." It works wonders.

Posted by: psachya | Aug 23, 2007 10:08:35 AM

I'll remember that for when I have kids.

Posted by: miss Worldwide | Aug 23, 2007 12:10:04 PM

when my son was a little older and playing sports, i used to tell him to make the play first...then he could feel the pain. :)

Posted by: weese | Aug 23, 2007 2:38:59 PM

Okay, people. Listen up. 'Alright is alwrong.'

Posted by: antares | Aug 23, 2007 5:52:30 PM

uh, well a few years ago my then 10-year-old-daughter was running on the lawn with some friends when she twisted her ankle. I saw it happen. I gave her some ice and then told her to run along, it would stop hurting soon. There was no swelling or bruising, but after 3 days of limping along, we got an xray, only to find a fractured growth plate in her ankle. Yikes!

Posted by: Baila | Aug 24, 2007 1:11:42 PM

My usual approach was to tell my son that he'd dented the sidewalk.

We were fortunate that our son wasn't much of a crier, since that meant we could always tell when he'd hurt himself seriously--any crying and/or kvetching that last more than a few minutes was cause for a trip to the emergency room. The last time he complained for over 10 minutes, he turned out to have a broken toe!

Posted by: Shira Salamone | Aug 26, 2007 11:25:31 PM

What would be truly useful in such cases is not Jedi mind tricks, but a Harry Potter Invisibility Cloak for the parents and other onlookers to hide under. (No Audience = No Crying.)

Posted by: Throbert McGee | Aug 27, 2007 4:40:32 AM

Wait! Wait! I've been dying to tell you this one! Call it "the Rebbi Mind Trick." We were on a train in Germany. It was a little local train, shlepping about families with young children, weary from a day of looking at flowers in a vast garden. Suddenly, we were giggling nervously at the weirdness of a Gestapo-esque guard walking through the train, saying "Ihren Pass, bitte? Geben Sie mir Sein Pass." And it got more surreal, as we all realized that we four Jewish adults had failed to acquire a pass, and that we had four exhuasted children between us... As the guard approached us, Rabbi Sachs murmured, "These are not the Jews you are looking for." The guard walked by us, as if we were invisible. I kid you not.

Posted by: rutimizrachi | Aug 30, 2007 7:16:37 AM

antares, for the record, when I fell ice skating, my parents told me to "walk it off." Granted, it was not during a sports event, and my parents were not the referees. It did, however, turn out that I broke my leg, which was discovered 3 days later when my parents were tired of watching me gingerly slide down the stairs on my tush.

Back to the facts, though, I have found the same thing. If I react like they've hurt themselves, little ones will scream up a storm - never say, "are you okay?" if it's a "normal" fall. That will certainly call for crying. :)

Posted by: Alissa | Dec 1, 2009 7:50:21 PM

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