I am sure many of you have read Dr. Helmut von Kugelgen ‘s famous article “The Laws of Childhood”, published in the WECAN publication “The Developing Child: The First Seven Years: The Gateways Series Three” . It is an excellent article and I thoroughly enjoyed it! It really got me thinking about my own “laws of childhood” or “Truths in Parenting for the Under 7 child”. Lots of fun.
1. You must start with yourself. If you are not happy, if you are not joyous, if you are finding the transition to mothering difficult, then get some inspiration and some support for you. Make some time for you as well. If you need professional help for your own baggage, for depression, for a physical ailment, for your marriage – get it! Your children are relying on you, on finding a centered and peaceful you, and you can do this!
2. Get connected and stay connected with your child. Breastfeeding, co-sleeping, baby wearing are all important tools to do this, as are consistent and loving, gentle limits as your child grows. Get clear about gentle discipline: what it is and what it isn’t. I do not advise “time-out” for any small child at all (and we won’t even mention other so-called discipline tactics such as hitting, spanking, yelling, verbal abuse, sarcasm, etc.) Also, watch your words like the pearls they are! Have positive things to say about your small child and their temperament! Build up the positive image of them in your head, and all their capabilities and wonderful traits!
3.Development takes a long time, and infants and small children are not miniature adults. Do not rush developmental phases. If you do everything before they are 7, what is there to look forward to? Keep asking yourself, is this activity or this information for a four-year-old, a six-year-old or a ten-year old?
4. Protect your child’s childhood! Keep things light and use lots of creative humor; protect their 12 senses, keep them from being over-stimulated. The most important thing the under-7 child experiences is NOT field trips, or vacations to exotic places or early learning, but being home and learning how to be a rhythmical being. Which leads us to……
5. It is part of your job to set limits and a flow to things, ESPECIALLY if you have a high-needs child who by definition needs help in this area. It is okay to set a general flow, and it is very important that this flow includes ample time for rest and sleep and plenty of physical activity outdoors.
6. It is also your job to foster your child’s feeling that the world is beautiful, and that there is something Higher Than Man. Check your adult religious baggage at the door and do not dump it on your children! Explore your own path, you are a spiritual being on a spiritual journey just like your child!
7. If you are in a committed relationship, keep working on that relationship. You are modeling adult relationships for your child who is soaking all of these impressions in. Your child is not a replacement for the intimacy of your spouse or partner. Check out what communication patterns you and your partner are using and modeling for your children to see.
8. Work with your small child out of your sense of their need for rhythm, less stimulation, imitation, movement, imaginative play, and quit talking to them out of your head and dumping explanation upon explanation on top of them! This sounds harsh, but please receive it in the spirit of love with which I intend it: I can tell you your child does not honestly care about all the explanations that you are providing and many times are puzzled, but they just learn this question and explanation game is a lovely verbal game to play and a way to get attention from their parents who communicate this way!
9. Help your child to play, and show them what real work looks like! Learn something to show them that you can do with your hands! Bake, knit, sew, paint, fix things, clean! There are posts on this blog regarding the fostering of creative play, and look for some more coming up!
10. Spark your child’s soul through music, finger plays, rhymes and verses, festival celebrations, snuggling together, special warming foods, outside time in nature to be free, the telling of stories and fairy tales. This can be hard work for many of us who have forgotten these things or never had these things from our own childhood, but it is worth recapturing!
Catch the joy of childhood,