My son, who, depending on the moment, is already three or only three, has recently asked me to call him a baby. I looked at him carefully when he first asked. It was just after I had told him, "Okay, Avraham Nissim, it's clean-up time." He responded, "Call me baby. I'm the baby. Right, Mommy? I'm your baby?"

I looked at him and then at his six-month-old sister and my mind started to analyze the situation. "Did he want me to call him baby because he's jealous? Is he feeling sad about the end of the school year? Is he afraid to move on from his safe, small pre-school to next school year's bigger pre-school? Am I not giving him enough attention? I really don't want to call him baby; I don't even call my daughter baby."

My son, the practical one, brought me back to reality.

"Mommy, call me baby."

My child falls and all I want to do is say, "It's nothing. You're fine..."I acted fast. "Okay. Baby, it's clean up time." In two seconds he cleaned up all of his toys. For whatever reason, he just wanted me to call him baby. And throughout the rest of the afternoon, I called him baby. At times, I slipped up, letting out an occasional "sweetie" or "cutie" but I quickly corrected myself and told him while wrapping him up in a big hug, "Yes, you ARE my baby." It amazed me how cooperative he was and how happily he went to sleep that night.

The other day, I was sitting in the park and I saw a little girl fall. Her caretaker instantly rushed to her, picking her up. The girl screamed hysterically as the caretaker hugged her and told her, "It's nothing. Nothing happened." The girl only wailed louder. I can't tell you how many times I have been in the same situation. My child falls and all I want to do is say, "It's nothing. You're fine." No one wants to see someone in pain and the easiest way to deal with is it to pretend to make it go away. However every time I refrain from saying those words and instead offer words of empathy such as, "It must hurt so much. Where does it hurt, where is it ouch?" I find my child instantly calms down and in two seconds is off running again.

"Teach a child according to his nature" (Mishlei 22:6).

When I first read this wise advice of King Solomon about childrearing, I thought that it only had one meaning: to teach a child knowledge according to their talents or inclinations. If your child is artistic, teach him with pictures, and if he is musical, teach him with song. Teaching, however, goes beyond knowledge. If you can teach a visual person the ABC's with pictures, that's wonderful. If you can teach math to an active child with measuring cups while baking, then I'm sure the child will learn more arithmetic then if they were sitting at a desk with pen and paper.

But what about loving and teaching a child to love? Shouldn't this too be according to the child's nature? As parents, spouses, relatives, and friends, all we want to do is give. But too often we give what we want to give and how we want to give and not in the way the person the person wants or needs us to give.

When they laugh, laugh with them; when they cry, cry with themKing Solomon continues, "Just as water mirrors the face to the face, so does the heart of man to man (ibid 27:19)." One might ask why King Solomon chose to use water as a metaphor for reflection, and not a mirror. I was told it is because when you look at yourself in water, you must bend. In order to reflect the emotions of another and love them in the way they need to be loved, you, at times, are forced to bend and bow down to your own feelings and desires. You're forced to love according to the other's nature. When they laugh, laugh with them; when they cry, cry with them. When they need to be a baby, baby them.