Kim John Payne postulates answers to several of the more pressing parenting issues of our time and opens his book with the premise that “As parents, we’re the architects of our family’s daily lives. We build a structure for those we love by what we choose to do together, and how we do it……You can see what a family holds dear from the pattern of their everyday lives.”
He goes on to say, “This book is about realigning our daily lives with the dreams with the pace and the promise of childhood. Realigning our real lives with the dreams we hold for our families.”
This is an excellent book, full of the things I talk about on this blog all the time. How did he read my mind, LOL?
In the United States, this Australian is a fairly well-known (in Waldorf circles at least!) educator and speaker. His website is here: http://www.thechildtoday.com/About/
This book really is a wonderful book for all parents, and should be at the top of your gift-giving list for any parents you know.
He talks about children in this book that are suffering from what he terms “cumulative stress reaction” (CSR), and how this can be helped by simplifying and not over-parenting our children because we are anxious about life. He discusses how a child who is sliding to one end or the other on a behavior spectrum (a normal reaction to normal stress) can be assisted by simplifying. Children do learn from the normal stresses of life and build their own character and emotional intelligence from these stresses, but at the same time children do need some protection from adult information and worries, from so many choices and an ove -packed schedule of activities.
He talks about the concept of “soul fever”; how a child may be emotionally overwhelmed, and how simplification can help this immensely and re-set this pattern (and of particular interest, he gives concrete examples of how to do this).
He has a whole chapter on toys and the “power of less” as he calls it and includes a ten-point checklist to help you decide which toys to discard. He has a whole chapter on how to establish rhythm, including meal and bedtime simplicity ideas. He has a whole chapter devoted to the idea of balance in schedules and outside activities. He addresses what to do about team sports and martial arts, what to do about technology and adult information,and how to talk less to your children with very concrete examples.
This leads to my favorite quote (well, one of them): “One way to “talk less” is to not include children in adult concerns and topics of conversation.” He writes, “It’s a misnomer to think that we are “sharing” with our children when we include them in adult conversations about adult concerns. Sharing suggests an equal and mutual exchange, one that is impossible for a child to offer and unfair for an adult to expect…….” He also makes a great point at the end of this section: “There is one more point. When there are topics that you don’t address with your child, they carry an image of you, and of adulthood, that retains an element of mystery. When you have an inner life, your children have a model of self that is both loving and unique, an individual. They’ll come to realize that there are things about you they don’t know, things that they may learn over time.”
I know attached parents and homeschooling parents may balk a bit at this notion, and I know it is difficult when you are with your children 24/7, but I urge you to keep part of your life and the adult concerns in your life for yourself. You really don’t need to share every detail with your under-7 child or even your over-7 child! You can still be a loving and attached parent without over-sharing too much information with your child. Your child wants to love you, your child wants to RESPECT you and look up to you as this loving authority who can lasso the moon! Give them that piece of their childhood, it is so vital and important!
Sorry to digress, onto the rest of the book. Actually, I think I will just give you the link to it on Amazon so you can buy it and read it for yourself. Here it is:
We are also having a great discussion about this book on Donna Simmons’ Waldorf at Home Forum, please do come join us! Here is the link: http://waldorf-at-home.com/