A Complete Approach To Real Discipline

 

Much of the popular bookstore literature regarding discipline of the small child to the pre-teenaged years are sorely lacking, in my opinion. 

 

These resources typically demonstrate one of two approaches.  The first approach is to focus solely on cause and effect (ie, carrot-stick, bribe or punishment), which does not take into account that children do not really even begin to develop the ability to use cause and effect reasoning until the age of twelve.  A kinder and gentler way of this approach is to talk the child to death in hopes that all your explanations will lead to the child agreeing with you.  These are really two facets of this same approach, and neither one is developmentally appropriate.   

 

The second approach is one that focuses on empathizing with the child.  I am not saying that this is a bad thing, to connect with the child when there is a challenge, but only using empathy can lead both child and parent bogged down in how each one feels and why without much resolution, or just lead to endless talking (circling back to approach number one as described above).    Kim John Payne, in his book “Simplicity Parenting”, talks about how children under the age of nine developmentally display a more diffuse manner of feeling “good” or “bad”, unless they have really been coached in labeling feelings. 

 

I propose a more balanced approach to discipline.  After all, the first approach is focused on thinking: cause and effect.  Yet this is such a fallacy.  Children developmentally don’t think the same way adults do.  The second approach is focused on feeling.  Whilst   connecting to a child through the feeling life is important, there are other ways we can do that besides words, which frequently seem to get ignored:  the warm smile, the holding of a steady rhythm in the midst of anxiety and stress, the hug.  These cues often seem to get ignored and lost in the literature that focuses on a feeling approach to discipline.

 

A balanced approach involves not just thinking (mainly on the part of the adult!)  Were is the child’s consciousness in this situation?  That is for you, the thinking adult, to realize, and to bring your patience and persistence to this), feeling (are you feeling compassionate and loving toward your child?  But loving does not mean the child has to be responded to right away or that the child gets what they want!  Wants and needs are two different things in children above the age of 2!) but also involves willing.  What can the child DO in action, to help the situation.

How are you moving, in movement, in your body, to help the child?

 

Give your children phrases to use that they can imitate, short phrases that involve not so much thinking but willing – what can they do?  What are your words helping them to do , how are your words entering into the child and helping them create their own will? 

 

Other things that help a balanced approach to discipline include boundaries, the word no, positive words to imitate, real work, and a strong rhythm.

 

Firm boundaries are important, and especially so for small children who live in their bodies. Hitting, spitting, kicking, throwing are all common behaviors of the small child.  The word no is an important word.  Not everything can be phrased completely positively, especially when it comes to the safety of the child or other children.    We can give a child a positive or accepted action, but sometimes it is really important for the child to hear no and live with that boundary before even hearing the positive thing they can do. 

 

Some Waldorf kindergarten teachers use the phrase, “You may…”  Some teachers do not like this approach, and for situations where there really is no choice will use the phrase, “You will.” 

 

Real work is something that turns difficult situations about.  In the home environment, going back to the basics of food, and sleep are also important.  Sometimes as children become tired they get more and more wound-up, and throw and hit and kick and spit more.  Keeping a solid rhythm of warming foods and sleep and rest is a vital component of discipline.    With small children you must plan ahead and keep things on track.

 

You can do this!  Envision how you want your family to be, and use your patience and persistence to make it happen! 

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

The Second Of The Twelve Days of Christmas

 

Merry Christmastide to you all!  The Twelve Holy Nights of Christmas is a special time throughout the  world for many people, and also holds a special place in the hearts of those involved in Waldorf Education.

 

Today is the Feast of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and also a day alms boxes for the poor were distributed.  In England, this day is known as Boxing Day and is an official holiday!

 

I invite you during these twelve holy and blessed days and nights to take the time to unplug, to spend time with family, to dream and to imagine the year of wonder that lies ahead.

 

Your Inner Work For Yesterday and Today:

December 25th: Think about your own birth: the circumstances, your family, your own physical body as an infant and as a child. Write down your impressions. Pick three words that describe your physical body as an infant and child. Were you frequently sick or robust? Did you have any physical challenges?

December 26th: Think about the Early Years, ages 0-7. Did you feel loved and accepted and as if you belonged? When you think back, what were you like then? What composed your whole world? Do you have an early impressions of nature and how that affected you?

 

Ordering Your Outer World For Peace:

Schedule your screen time.  Many of my readers don’t watch TV, but many do spend copious hours on the Internet – facebook, reading blogs, blogging themselves, email, etc.  The computer can be one very big time suck.  Schedule your time, and most of all, plan breaks this holiday season to unplug completely.  Make a schedule for your own screen time; this in and of itself will free up time to help to nurture yourself, organize your home and plan for homeschooling.

 

Nurturing Yourself: The Art of Mama Care

Today is a great day to make doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, or any other appointment for your health.  I talk to mothers all the time who have not had any sort of preventative medical or dental care in years.  Please don’t let this be you!  If you use alternative health care, now is also a great time to schedule those appointments.

 

Many blessings,

Carrie

The Twelve Holy Nights: An Introspective Approach

 

Merry Christmas, and a blessed Christmastide to you!  I love the twelve days of Christmas, and hope you will enjoy this introspective approach of using biography to understand yourself as you move into the New Year.  Here are the areas of focus for each of the twelve days:

 

December 25th:  Think about your own birth:  the circumstances, your family, your own physical body as an infant and as a child.  Write down your impressions.  Pick three words that describe your physical body as an infant and child.  Were you frequently sick or robust?  Did you have any physical challenges?

 

December 26th:  Think about the Early Years, ages 0-7.  Did you feel loved and accepted and as if you belonged?  When you think back, what were you like then?  What composed your whole world?  Do you have an early impressions of nature and how that affected you?

 

December 27th:  Think about the years 7-14.  What were your habits, the things you did on a daily basis from what you did when you got up, what you did in the afternoons after school, what you did before you went to bed.  What did you do every week on certain days of the week?  How did that shape you?  Does it continue to impact you now?

 

December 28th:  Think about the years 14-21.  What were the things you loved, what was most important to you?  What did you dislike?  Are the things that were important then still important now or has that totally changed?

 

December 29th:  Think about the years 21-28 of your life.  What things do you see happening that were the complete hand of God, your destiny?  Relationships, people, births and deaths, things that changed your life and who you were forever?

 

December 30th:  Think about the years 28-35.   Read this back post: 

Can you draw yourself at this age and the things in your life at this point?  Did you have a significant experience at the age of 33 or so?

 

December 31st:  Think about the years  35 – 42 if you are there!  What was most important from this period to you? 

 

January 1st:  Think about the years 42-49 if you are there.  What do you have to bring outward into the world during this phase?  What is it you are passionate about?  What will you do with your passions this year?

 

January 2nd: Pick one of the seven year time periods that really speaks to you from your life.  Draw it.  Get together with a friend and draw those time periods together.  Explain your life during that time period to your friend.

 

January 3rd:  Think about yourself as a physical entity.  What do you need to do to nurture your physical body this year?  What would be helpful?  How could you make this happen?

 

January 4th: Think about yourself and the habits and rhythms you create for yourself. If you keep journals, look back through the past years.  What months are you tired?  What months do you feel most energized?  Are you an early or late riser?  What days of the week do you like best and feel most productive?  Are there any rhythms that you should be setting in place for you or your family members so that everyone is happier?  Is life simple or busy?  Do your rhythms support you, or deplete you?  What could you change to make this a simpler and more peaceful year?

 

January 5th:  Think about what you love.  Name those things.  Name passions you have in books, music, subjects, knowledge.  Are you nurturing those passions?  Are your interests changing?  Name one thing you would like to deepen your knowledge of this year.

 

January 6th:  How can you nurture your spiritual and yes, your religious side? Do you have a religious community? Do you have any kind of community outside of the four walls of your home?  We were made to be in community with one another.  How will you nurture community this year?

 

Many blessings,
Carrie

Favorite Last Minute Gifts to Make

It is almost down to Christmas Eve, and many of you would love some ideas for a few last minute gifts that are quick and easy to make.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Peppermint Bark:  You will need a bag of milk chocolate chocolate chips, a bag of white chocolate chips, peppermint extract and about four or five regular sized organic candy canes if you can find organic.  Unwrap the candy canes and put them in a ziploc bag before you start – crush them with a rolling pin.   Preheat your oven to 250 degrees, and line a cookie sheet with a lid with parchment paper or wax paper.  Spread the milk chocolate chocolate chips in an even layer in the pan and put in oven until soft enough to spread with a spatula (about five to ten minutes, watch them carefully!).  Put in the refrigerator to cool for about twenty minutes.  Melt the white chocolate chips in a double boiler (you may need a teaspoon of canola oil to make the white chocolate chips spreadable), stir in about 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract and  some of the  candy cane pieces.  Spread over the milk chocolate layer, sprinkle the rest of the candy cane pieces on top and put in the refrigerator to cool.  Break into uneven pieces and package for friends you love.

If you have a dehydrator (and I bought a nice one used), you could make grain free granola or coconut macaroons. Both make fabulous gifts!  For my grain-free granola, I take an apple and mix it with about a cup and a half of dates in a food processor, then add salt, cinnamon, orange zest and the juice of a lemon.  Then I take pecans, almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds that have been pulsed in a food processor, mix them with the apple-date mixture and stir in a cup of dried cranberries.  This can be dehydrated for about 8 hours and then packaged.

Easy to package is to make savory salt.  This salt is divine on brown rice.  There are many recipes on the Internet.  The other easy last minute gift is bath salts.

Please share your favorite last-minute gifts below!

Many blessings, happy merriment,

Carrie

Ideas For The Fourth Week Of Advent

Such a short time, this fourth week of Advent, this year!  Therefore, here are just a few very simple ideas for this special time:

Read the story of “The Greedy Woman”  from “Hark! A Christmas Sampler” by Jane Yolen and Tomie dePaola.  This tale is best suited for ages 7 and up.

Here is another tale to try, this one is regarding Saint Francis and the first Christmas at Greccio:  http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=smithe&book=christmas&story=greccio.  This would be a lovely story for eight year olds in the midst of second grade on up.

Make Gingerbread People.  Here is Martha Stewart’s gingerbread recipe:  http://www.marthastewart.com/336115/gingerbread-people

And, on Christmas Eve Day, won’t you consider making several stars to light the way of the Christ Child?  Here is a wonderful tutorial from Sarah Baldwin of Bella Luna Toys:

http://blog.bellalunatoys.com/2012/how-to-make-waldorf-paper-window-stars.html

Some countries also use this day to commemorate “Adam and Eve” and place red apples in the branches of their Christmas tree in order to remember.  Bread decorations are also sometimes made and used as a sign of redemption.

And here is the “To Do Ahead!”  Continue reading

Ideas For The Third Week of Advent

This is the third week of Advent; for some Christian denominations this is the week the rose candle of “joy” is lit on the Advent Wreath.  What brings you joy?  The true mark of being a Waldorf parent, and also being a spiritual person,  is joy and contentment.  Are you reflecting this to yourself and to the world?  What would help you do this?

This week also finds many of us in the Anglican Communion observing Ember Days on the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of this week. You can see  more information about that here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ember_days

I am sharing a few of my simple plans for this week.  As we get closer to Christmas, a beautiful Feast day, I try to pare things down as much as I can and enjoy the time I have with my family in simplicity.  Here are a few of the things nourishing me this week, a week where we look closer at our animal friends awaiting the love and joy that is coming to Earth.

Sunday, December 16th:  Church; our oldest child is singing at our evening Mass that is an entire Mass of “Lessons and Carols”…a favorite out of the whole year!

Monday, December 17th:  Make treats for our feathered friends; read “The Legend of The Birds” – found in “Hark!  A Christmas Sampler” by Jane Yolen and Tomie dePaola

Tuesday, December 18th:  Continue reading

Boundaries

Friends, I have been hearing from a lot of you recently via email and many of you are struggling with boundaries in your lives.  I am not a counselor, and I am not a psychologist, but I wanted to tell you a few things I have learned about boundaries along the way in the experience of my life and I hope it will be helpful to you. I encourage you if you are having challenges with this to go and talk to a qualified counselor.  This can be so helpful in getting your life, your family and your parenting going the way you want it to!  What a wonderful way to start the New Year!

Boundaries, to me, are a skill that many of us have to learn.  Perhaps our ability to set boundaries was damaged in childhood or early adulthood.  Perhaps we are not even sure what a boundary is or why we would want boundaries.  Or perhaps we have too many boundaries and have erected relentless walls in order to keep the world out.

Yet, healthy boundaries are so necessary.  A boundary is something we set in order to separate ourselves from other people; it tells us how far a person can go with us and how far we can go with another person.  It keeps us from becoming enmeshed with another person:  enmeshment is a complete state of feeling so empathetically with that person that we take on the other person’s feelings, responsibilities,challenges and problems completely and wholly as our own.   As parents, we are separate from our children; we are different people. And, boundaries not only separate us from our children, but it also shows how we are linked together in familial roles.  We are linked together, but we are not the same.  We are the adult.  The relationship is not an equal one.  We have more experience and more guidance, more logic and reasoning to bring to any situation.  We also have a duty to honor the developmental stage of our child and we can do this with boundaries.

Relationships without boundaries cause dependency and stunted emotional growth for both ourselves and the other party involved.   If we have too many boundaries, no one can get close to us at all and we end up isolated and alone.   With good boundaries, we learn to develop an appropriate sense of roles amongst family members and the other people in our lives. We learn to respect ourselves and others.  We can trust and listen not only to ourselves, but to others.

Specifically in parenting, boundaries allow children to feel safe and secure.  Boundaries helps children learn self-control and how to function with people outside of their immediate family. Parents who set good boundaries for themselves and for their children are modeling for the children, how, in turn, to set emotional and physical boundaries for themselves.  If we can be calm as a child tests out what the boundary and line in the sand actually is, then we are modeling for our child how to handle this in their own lives.   We help them learn how to function in the world.

For parents who have trouble setting any boundaries for their children, out of “respect” for the child,  I often will ask the parent: Continue reading

Favorite Posts of The Week

I have rounded up some wonderful, wonderful posts for you to read today.

First of all, yay for Kara for being back at Rockin’ Granola.  This post is just wonderful and you must go read it right away.  I have been married almost twenty one years, and this one is so right on:  http://www.rockingranola.com/2012/12/baby-our-love-song-must-survive.html

Are you searching for lovely Santa Lucia stories to tuck away for next year?  There is one here on The Parenting Passageway, and here is another one over at Bending Birches:  http://bendingbirches2010.blogspot.com/2012/12/embracing-lightand-our-time.html Continue reading

All You Can Do

 

 

All you can do in the face of such tragedy, such tragedy and loss that it makes no sense at all…is to gather your family and love them.   Tell your children, show your children this love. Gather your community and sit in intimate love with all of those people.  Reach out to the people in your community who don’t reach out. Help those who need it.

 

All you can do in the face of tragedy is to be as strong as you can.  Go into each day with the assured knowledge that despite the actions of one person, the world is still a good place.  There are still kind and caring people everywhere.  The world is not a place to be feared and it is not a place from which  to isolate your children.  Isolation is not the solution to societal problems. 

 

All you can do in the face of tragedy is to find support in your community.  Your community can carry far more for you and for your children than you ever could on your own. 

 

All you can do in the face of tragedy is create your own home to be a place of goodness, a place of beauty and of stability.  Create a safe and steady rhythm for your days, your week and your year.  Go back to the wisdom of earlier times, to those who knew the cosmic rhythms, knew the liturgical rhythms, and knew the rhythm of man himself in life.

 

All you can do in the face of tragedy is to love your children with all your heart.  Heal your childhood wounds. Do not pass these onto your children.   Tame your words, and take a break if you need it in order to tame your words and actions.   Yet, at the same time, be easy on yourself and on those around you.  Life is not perfect, people are not perfect.  And yet we are all still here and we can all love one another.

 

All you can do in the face of tragedy is to lean on your God when you cannot walk yourself.   Tragedy faces men, yet we rise up in triumph.  Tragedy faces us, yet we persevere.  Tragedy faces us, yet we remain strong.  Tragedy faces us, yet we create anew. 

 

Rise up.  Love one another and start from the most precious place one can start – our own homes and families.  Let our light branch out to the rest of mankind.

 

Rise up.

Mourning tonight with the rest of the world,

Carrie

A Traditional Developmental View of The Eleven Year-Old

Eleven is a really interesting time in which to observe development; in many ways it is more akin to the six/seven year transformation and change.  That same burst of complete restless energy is there, along with crying outbursts from both girls and boys, and a complete preview of adolescence to come. It is a different energy than children going through the nine year change, where the child is feeling lonely and separated.

Let’s take a closer look at the developmental qualities of an eleven-year old from a traditional perspective: Continue reading