A mother who had been in my parenting classes years ago called with good news. "Miriam," she enthused, "I just want to thank you for teaching me the Victory Technique. You promised that we would reap great rewards with our teens if we implemented the technique when they were small, and you were right… My 15-year-old ADHD son went to a party recently… The next day, he told me that there had been drugs and alcohol circulating, but that he hadn't partaken. I asked him if the work we had done on victories while he was growing up had helped him resist the temptation. He looked at me intently and said, 'That's the only thing that helped! I told myself that it's no victory to smoke dope or get drunk!' I was so proud of him. When my children were young, I spent a lot of time talking about their victories, and my own, but I never knew how much he internalized until that moment!"

What is this "magical" Victory Technique? All you need to do is notice and cheer your smallest victories throughout the day. A victory is the term used when we resist our "animal" urges, like the urge to be mean, vengeful, lazy, greedy, jealous or selfish. It can be as simple as not eating junk food, doing a small kindness for a neighbor or giving charity. We all have hundreds of victories a day. If you start mentioning them when your children are young, they eventually start to think, "I'm a responsible, trustworthy person who can resist temptation and stand up to pressure." Focusing on our positive actions is the only drug-free way to fight addictions, including "mood addictions" such as anxiety, depression and anger.

Self-discipline is the basis for self-respect. Our ability to choose thoughts and actions is the preeminent sign of our Divine essence. A dog cannot choose not to bark. A cat cannot choose not to chase a mouse. Only humans have the wondrous gift of free will. True, it is not always easy to exercise this gift. We often feel like helpless victims of irresistible and uncontrollable urges. Moods descend on us. People insult and betray us. We experience endless frustrations, irritations and losses. If we focus on our victories – on the faith and fortitude required to get through the rough spots – we will gain more faith and more fortitude.

Research shows that 80% of children enter first grade with a sense of self-worth, and twelve years later, 80% leave high school feeling defective and inferior. The Victory Technique is the only way to "immunize" our children against the attacks they will inevitably sustain to their sense of self-worth and competency. By cheering our children for "doing the difficult," whether it is studying for a test or not insulting a sibling, they develop faith, in themselves and G‑d. A person controlled by his moods or urges cannot have faith in G‑d, for he lacks faith in himself. Each victory strengthens our connection to our Divine essence.

You are never too old to start this process. If you think of yourself as inferior or incapable of self-control, you can change your brain patterns now. Yes, it takes time to alter deeply engrained beliefs, but you can do it! Start now. It is a victory to read this article! You had victories when you got up on time this morning, brushed your teeth, showered, paid your bills, spoke politely, made hundreds of decisions about what to say, eat and buy. It is this awareness – not beauty, awards, money or grades – that is the source of true self-worth.

A few weeks ago, I hosted two families with three young children, aged 2, 4 and 5. One of the husbands suffered from depression and was barely able to move. On Friday night, I announced that we would have a "Victory Shabbat," and explained that throughout the Shabbat, whenever anyone said they were doing something difficult, I would put a raffle ticket in a box I prepared.

Throughout Shabbat, we all had fun mentioning our victories, each vastly different from another's. One thing that bothered the father was the thumb-sucking of his four-year-old. I told the child I'd put a ticket in the box each time he wanted to suck his thumb but refrained. He got 84 raffle tickets! The father was astounded that instead of having to scold his son for sucking his thumb, the child took the initiative to stop on his own.

Both parents said they found little need to scold or admonish the children all Shabbat. All they had to do was say, "Can you achieve this victory?" And the depressed husband, who had not gone to synagogue Friday night, said that his victory was to go Shabbat morning. As the day went on, he actually smiled a few times and became more involved in what was going on around him!

Each of my children always had a "Victory Notebook," and to this day, I keep one for myself.

The Victory Technique proves that we can feel pleasure when we resist temptation, instead of feeling deprived. When children internalize a victory mindset, parents do not have to hover obsessively to make sure that they act properly. They learn to act appropriately on their own because doing so makes them proud!