Realistic Expectations: Day Ten of Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering

In Day Nine of “Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering”, we looked at our abilities to set boundaries.  And, one thing I really wanted to hammer in was that boundaries work both ways – it is not something that we only set for our children, but something we also set for ourselves.  We need to set boundaries on how we handle the emotional things in life, especially the negative emotions in life that people hand us or that we think cause us to feel the way we do, because as we do this we model this for our children.  We must help our children rise up out of their own negativity as well, if they have those tendencies, and do that through the boundaries we set on how we allow ourselves to be treated.

A large part of setting boundaries for children is knowing what are the realistic expectations for each age. If you are setting a boundary based upon some idea that the child “should” be able to do this, but the child really is not developmentally capable of this, then this is going to be a problem!  It is one thing to help a child rise up to something that are capable of doing, but one must also be realistic and not expect ten year old things out of a three-year old!

This by itself could be a small book, but let’s point out a few highlights for realistic expectation for age three up through age eight in this three-part post!

 

AGE THREE: Three is very, very little.  Very TINY.  Say that with me!  TINY!   According to Waldorf parenting and pedagogy, the first three years are for the establishment for walking (which takes about two and a half years to be a very mature walker without needing the arms for balance, being able to run, stop and start suddenly, etc); then the development of speech and the development of thinking as first seen by use of the term “I”.  These are the main goals for the first three years. 

Then we start moving into other areas…

Some parents get very upset around the three and a half year mark as children start to exert some will and push against the forms of the day and the rhythms you have crafted. This is very normal.  Typical developmental things about the three and a half -year-olds include (this is according to the Gesell Institute, not necessarily my personal opinion!):

 

Age Three and A Half

  • Turbulent, troubled period of disequilibrium, the simplest event or occasion can elicit total rebellion; strong and secure gross motor abilities may turn more into stumbling, falling, at this age; new- found verbal ability such as “I’ll cut you in pieces!” and lots of whining   — Keep your ho-hum on! Continue reading

Part Two of Day Nine: Twenty Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

 

We last were talking about boundaries in this post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2012/08/16/day-nine-of-twenty-days-toward-more-mindful-mothering/

 

Boundaries are an interesting thing; once attached parents realize that they and their children are not the same person and that boundaries are really necessary, it can be hard for some parents to know what to put boundaries around (hint:  if it wouldn’t fly out in public with other adults or children, if it hurts the child or others, if it destroys property, it shouldn’t fly in your home!) and then often even still harder to know how to put the boundary in place without yelling or communicating in other ineffective ways.  Knowing developmental phases are really important here, and there are many back posts on The Parenting Passageway about gentle discipline and the “how-to’s” of each age.

 

But there is another interesting consideration about boundaries, and that is how boundaries are a two-way street:  boundaries are not only for the benefit of the child, to help the child grow and mature into the kind of adult we and others would like to be around, but they also model for our children how to place boundaries on the negative energy of other people.  How do we deal with anger, guilt, blame from other people, whether it be our children, family members or others? Do we accept and carry it around like a purse or do we know how to set boundaries to keep ourselves sane? It is an important consideration to model this for our children.

 

If I model for my child that I do not accept a child yelling and screaming AT me with blame, accusation… but that I am so happy to listen when we can talk calmly and without that blame and accusation,  then I am showing my child  how I deserve to be treated and how we should all treat each other.   I am showing that I choose not to accept and carry around  the negative emotions of others toward me, but that I will work toward the opportunity of calm problem -solving. 

 

I have a dear friend who talks about how people, and even children,  can “machine gun” you down with their emotions – whether that be angry accusations and blame or screeching and wailing and crying and complaining.  We want to raise a generation of children who will not be machine gunners.  We want to raise a generation of children who can let their emotions out, in an appropriate way, without all the verbal spillage, blame,  and anger onto others.

 

In this regard, I think Non-Violent Communication can be a tool, an inner framework for you, the adult,  to use as a model in handling emotion.  The verbosity of NVC does not, to me at least, fit well into the developmental framework of the child under the teen-aged years according to Waldorf methodology (and this is a place where you will find Waldorf people with differing opinions, so take what resonates with you).    Here is a link to some free resources regarding NonViolent Communication:  http://www.nonviolentcommunication.com/freeresources/resources.htm

 

Take some time to meditate on the boundaries you set around yourself, especially emotional boundaries.  Being a parent does not mean you become the dumping ground for your family’s emotional negativity.  It is okay to have a boundary around that and to implement constructive ways to deal with negative emotions within your family. 

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

The Melancholic Child–Ages 7 and Up

 

 

(This post is not meant to address children who are clinically depressed.  Please speak to a health care professional if you feel your child is depressed). 

 

Then you should know exactly which children lean toward

inner reflection and are inclined to brood over things; these are

the melancholic children. It is not easy to give them impressions

of the outer world. They brood quietly within themselves,

but this does not mean that they are unoccupied in their

inner being. On the contrary, we have the impression that they

are active inwardly.  – “Discussions With Teachers” Lecture One, Rudolf Steiner

 

Rudolf Steiner was not the first person to work with the ideas of the human temperaments;   the Greek physician Hippocrates incorporated the four temperaments into his medical work and the temperaments have made their way into medicine and psychology since then.  Rudolf Steiner linked the four temperaments to not only his ideas regarding the four fold human being, but also to the different developmental cycles of the human being.  For example, he felt the early childhood years of birth through seven were a predominantly sanguine time.

 

When we look at children, I have spoken to many mothers who feel the predominant temperament of their child is melancholic.  Many melancholic children have a particular physical body type – tall, slender, mournful eyes, a slow gait.  They tend to think a lot about the past, themselves, and they have a good memory concerning things that happen to themselves.   They tend to analyze, brood and have a strong attention to detail.  Many times they are bothered by the idea of imperfection.  I find many melancholic children in my own life can be rather inflexible, and when things do not happen according to the pictures or thoughts they have laid out, they can become extremely upset or angry.

 

Many times melancholic children seem to have a poor quality of relationships with others.  These may be the children who have only a few good friends.  They can be drawn into relationships if something strikes them as unjust or unfair; sticking up for the underdog is often part of a melancholic child’s connection and sympathy to another person’s pain and suffering.

 

Here is my area of caution after working with many families over the years:  Please do not confuse the melancholic child with something else.  I have talked to many mothers who felt their child was melancholic, but when I looked at the child in person and observed them and the family, it seemed to me that the whole family may have been in  a stressful, rough patch that was feeding the child’s feelings that the world was not a good place and that the child was working with this sad, unjust feeling as projected from the mother or other attachment figure in the family.  Once the family became stabilized, the child also stabilized.  This is not true melancholia as a temperamental trait. 

 

I have also seen videos of children with sensory issues whose parents were clearly worn out by a child’s behavior and sometimes the child would respond with complaining and  brooding to try to arouse the parent’s attention and sympathy.  This is a scenario too long and complicated to get into via electronic medium, but again, I don’t think that is a true melancholic child.  That is a child trying to elicit attention and increased energy from a parent.  The take away  message is that if your own energy is really low, your child may be acting melancholic to try to arouse something out of you!   We must always look to ourselves first. 

 

And complaining does not always equal a melancholic child either.  I think we have to look at the whole picture of the whole child.  A child may complain and feel lonely through the nine year change, for example, but that is a developmental stage, but not true melancholia as a tempermental trait.

 

The way to work with a melancholic, as advised by many resources, is to listen carefully to the melancholic child’s deep and brooding thoughts and to tell them stories about others who have suffered or times of your own suffering in order to connect.

 

I think this works well in a classroom,  and we can also use it in the home environment.  However, I think there is something more that should predominate with a melancholic child in the home environment:  we have to be careful to listen, but not be a captive stage for hours on end by long tales of the woe of the melancholic child.  This can be a tricky balance!  The melancholic child should not set the tone for the home; we should as parents set the tone for our house.   In the home environment where we are with our children 24/7, it is important to demonstrate to the melancholic child how we protect our own emotional boundaries because this is an important aspect of modeling emotional health for this temperament type.  We can carefully listen to our child and then say  that we have certainly heard them, and that we will carry their thoughts with us whilst we go do the dishes or brush the dog.  We can help engage these children in real work, and get them physically moving instead of wallowing in their own negativity.   I find melancholic children often need more exercise and sometimes even more opportunities to be socially drawn out  than they may be prone to want themselves.  Melancholic children are often happiest being creative and reading, which is wonderful, but physical movement and community is very important for these children. 

 

In my mind, this temperament also needs a strong religious and spiritual life as they grow into adolescence and adulthood in order to have something to hold onto. We want to balance these children and all four of the temperaments that are within them and within us all.

 

Blessings,
Carrie

Friday Linky Love!

 

I have a great list of links for you all today!

 

First of all, I have to say the launch of Atlanta Homeschool Magazine has only added fuel to my fire that Atlanta has a vibrant homeschooling community!   A family in my very own homeschool group partnered up with the magazine to help see it come to life, so I feel very excited for them!  Here is the link where you can check out the premier issue for  free:  http://www.atlanta-homeschool.com/  . 

 

Another wonderful mother  in my homeschool group sent me this link to a gorgeous post from the Fifth Grade Botany block.  There is also a list of botany resources this particular family used in order to put together their block.  Check it out here:  http://homeschoolingwaldorf.wordpress.com/2012/09/12/botany/

 

My oldest is only in fifth grade, and in that time frame of homeschooling, I have seen quite a few families come and go as far as having a homeschool experience inspired by Waldorf Education.  I am thoroughly impressed with Annette, who makes Waldorf work for her, in her Christian home, with her six children.  Love to you, Annette!  Check out her Waldorf Wednesday Link-Ups:  http://ourseasonsofjoy.com/general/waldorf-wednesday-link-up-3/

 

We made these coconut flour muffins; my oldest and I enjoyed them whilst my husband and middle child did not.  I think they are yummy!  http://mexicanwildflower.blogspot.com/2011/10/chocolate-cherry-coconut-flour-muffins.html

 

And, in the midst of moving houses in two weeks and teaching, I am already gathering thoughts for sixth grade next year (and third grade too!)…Here is a lovely link for sixth grade:  http://pinterest.com/queenslace/6th-waldorf/

 

Much love, happy weekend,

Carrie

A Few Parenting Passageway Notes…Your Input Is Needed!

Well, this has been a fun month!  The Parenting Passageway has over 1,000 folks over on  its Facebook page, which is just humbling and amazing!  If you are on Facebook and  would like to be a grand part of that, I would be honored to be part of your Facebook world:  http://www.facebook.com/#!/TheParentingPassageway/posts/527264543957823?notif_t=feed_comment

One of the things I asked over there was now that we are oh-so-close to finishing up the book study where we went chapter by chapter through “The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work” is what book YOU would love to see next!  What book do you love and feel could be very helpful to other mothers out there?  I look forward to seeing your input in the comment box.  (If you are wondering what books we have already done, click “Book Reviews” from the drop-down menu above; we have done some great parenting books if you are searching for good reading!)

This month we will also be going through the last half of the twenty posts of “Twenty Days Toward More Mindful Mothering”, so look for those to brighten your parenting journey!

I am hoping to eventually have a sister site to The Parenting Passageway that will have all the book recommendations in one place on Amazon,and some more of my favorite goodies.  Right now we are in the midst of moving, but maybe after we are settled in and I am feeling inspired – perhaps right after the New Year!

I would love to hear what is going on in your world, what books and topics you would love to see covered here, and how I can be helpful to you!

Love to you all, thank you so much for being such a blessing to me every day,

Carrie

Chapter 11: “The Seven Principles For Making Marriage Work”

 

We are almost done with this book!  This chapter is all about creating a solid foundation for marriage through shared meaning, shared traditions, a shared family unity.

 

“Marriage isn’t just about raising kids, splitting chores, and making love.  It can also have a spiritual dimension that has to do with creating an inner life together – a culture rich with symbols and rituals, and an appreciation for your roles and goals that link you, that lead you to understand what it means to be a part of the family you have become.” (pages 243-244).

 

I love that outlook, and how families create their own family culture.  I have written about creating family culture before on this blog, and this chapter just confirms for me how important doing this truly is for the health of a family.  It is not that a couple feels the same exact way about everything, but that there is an interplay and meshing of values and beliefs and attitudes to form this new family identity. 

 

In this chapter you will find a beautiful questionnaire starting on page 246 that discusses “Shared Meaning” and provides an interesting bit of food for thought regarding rituals, roles in the family, goals, and symbols of family life together.

 

The section on “Family Rituals” begins:  “It is a sad fact that less than a third of U.S. families eat dinner together regularly, and more than half of those that do have the television on during dinner.   This effectively ends conversation during dinner.  Creating informal rituals when you can connect emotionally is critical in marriage.”  This section has an exercise on rituals.

 

There are also exercises regarding family roles, personal goals, and shared symbols.

An excellent chapter for those working on creating a new family culture!

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

 

One special note is that the culture that develops

The Secret to Homeschooling Children In Multiple Grades

 

I will never forget one of the stories of my husband’s great-grandparents. They were celebrating their seventy-fifth wedding anniversary and people at church asked great-grandma to stand up and say a few words about having a successful marriage.  She stood up, and probably to the chagrin of most of the people there wanting inspirational words, said, “Well, it hasn’t been easy!” and sat back down again.

 

I feel a little like this when readers ask me about homeschooling children in multiple grades, especially in the land of Waldorf Education, where things are often  so….teacher intensive…..

 

It just isn’t always easy.  (I know, not what you want to hear! )

 

Oh, sure, people can give you tips.  I have given out “tips” before, especially in this post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/04/17/crafting-a-homeschool-rhythm-to-work-with-multiple-grades-and-ages/  and in this post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/04/14/homeschooling-children-in-multiple-grades/  and here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/05/homeschooling-multiple-children-with-waldorf/

 

This is the thing with “tips”:  they are things that may work for one particular family, and that family is not your family..  So tips may be helpful, but they also may not resonate with you.  It may not work for your family.  You are the only one on this crazy homeschooling adventure that can figure out what works for you and your family!  You are the expert! 

 

Make a plan, keep it loose with plenty of time and space (yes, those of you who read this blog know I love those two words in relation to development and also in relation to homeschooling)…It is hard to know with different children what they will  blow through quickly and what will take more time, especially the older they get. For example, there is a much wider range in abilities in reading, writing and math in second through fourth grades than probably at any other time, I think, which can make it harder to plan the first time through those grades… Every child is different, and you are homeschooling to meet your children’s needs…so you tailor around that, not some blog you read where everything looks perfect!

 

Because there is no perfect way to Waldorf homeschool, and you find differences of opinion even amongst Waldorf homeschoolers.  And there is no life that is so calm and peaceful that it never influences how you feel in the moment about homeschooling…     Today I had a child who needed to get stitches out and whilst I was on the phone with the doctor regarding that, toddler man fell and knocked both front teeth which were now bleeding all over and we needed groceries and one child needed to be somewhere.  (So, theoretically, if I  could teleport, I could have gotten to all four places at once, but since I don’t have a nifty Dr. Who telephone booth, I couldn’t).   I say this to point out that sometimes it is not homeschooling itself that is stressful, especially since all of this happened during the afternoon,  but just the crazy of life that swirls around and that sometimes penetrates into making us feel like life would be easier if we were not homeschooling multiple children!  (Or just that life would be easier if we were sitting on a beach somewhere drinking something fruity with a little umbrella in it! Ha!)

 

But  that my friends, is the secret to thriving with homeschooling:  embrace the chaos.  Can you roll up and down on the roller coaster and smile? Can you keep your footing and calm amidst the wild ride?

 

Because if you have multiple children, multiple main lessons, along with younger children,  it will be a juggle.  And the juggle may extend down to the children: my children often alternate distracting or playing with a toddler whilst I work with one of them; (unless he is nursing or otherwise enthralled near us); there really isn’t all this time and space to just hang out that other homeschooling families often seem to have.  But this season is short, and in a few months it will be something different!  This I know for sure:  things change!

 

So, on my good days , I like to think homeschooling with multiple children teaches flexibility and resiliency.  Oh yes, we have rhythm for creating good health for the future adult (but remember that  it is the rhythm that works for us and no one else!), but we have the flexibility and resiliency that comes with having multiple children of different ages and in different seven year cycles.  We also have great time learning all the time, not just in “main lesson” because there are so many opportunities for learning with different temperaments and personalities and ages within the family. 

 

And on my bad days, it just looks a lot like crazy.  Smile

 

But the one thing that carries me through, and the one thing that I think you really do NEED as the secret to homeschooling multiple children is a strong spiritual footing.  If your inner work, your walk with your Creator is off, than all the days start to look like crazy instead of the beautiful blessings that God provided. 

 

Start your day with prayer, with silence to hear the voice of the Spirit, weave your religion into your schooling and your life…and then just  roll with it.  Crazy, chaos or not!

 

Blessings and love,
Carrie