Gentle Discipline By Age–Part Three


Gentle discipline is the mainstay of parenting life, because it encompasses guiding and validating the authentic spiritual being that is every human being and child.  It is a mindset to live by and parent by, and if you can master some of these techniques, you will find yourself even having more positive communication and conflict resolution with other adults.

I have wanted to do a round-up of techniques by age, and here it finally is beginning.  I hope it will be helpful to you, and do please feel free to add your own thoughts or experiences to this list.

In Part Two,  we focused on birth through age 4.  Today we are going to look at ages five and six.    The mainstay of gentle discipline for these years begins with our own inner work and development, as discussed in Part One of this series.

Birth through age  four encompasses a time of protection, physical movement, warmth and trust and love in a caregiver and in a good world.  The ending of this stage sees the use of the words “I” and “no” not as an act of defiance or disobedience, but as growth into individuality.  Ages five and six also sees the same  importance of protection, physical movement, warmth, and love and trust in a caregiver continue.  However, play and social experiences now expands during these years, (although some children will not blossom into truly enjoying other children until the six/seven year transformation).  Play is the main theme for these years, and also a  look at the willing gesture involved in roles, power, and control.

Many five and six year olds are trying to figure out roles within their world.  This is the time of play with roles and in being archetypal characters.   There is  often is a fluidity in these roles in play, and the play can also can have a bit of an authority/submissive quality to it – you be the dog and I will be the owner, you be the child and I will be the daddy, etc.  It can also, in the realm of guiding within the home or classroom, be a time of pushing against the typical rhythm and boundaries.   You can see more about  five year old development at “The Fabulous Five Year Old” and the six year old here at “The Snazzy Six Year Old.”

Get your ho-hum on.  From the height of sex play at age six to late potty training to picky eating to a children testing boundaries verbally, there always seems like there is something to either worry about or get upset about.  Get your ho-hum on.  This too shall pass.

Rhythm and outside play are at a high importance.  Rhythm also includes the “preparation” and  “picking up” part of  daily life or inside play.  This is very important to not skip, and to set time aside to do it together with you modeling the way.  Get organized so things have a place!

Connect and look for the positive.  Look for the good qualities that make up the message of your life and notice when your children are taking part in the message, the values of your family.  Give a smile or a pat.  Five and six year olds still need to be tucked in at night, hugged and held and enjoyed.   Tell them you love them and that they are wonderful!  Because they are!

Watch your language.   Keep your words calm and short.  One or two sentences are enough.  If you get to the point where you want to rant, call a friend and rant to him or her instead.  Take a break and go outside or go lay down and come back.  If you want to make announcements and threats, go in your room and make them to the mirror.  Make sure your language reflects your love.

Know your boundaries and developmentally appropriate expectations.  Be ready with restitution and follow through.  Know that helping a five and six year with boundaries takes time and consistency.   Make sure you are not expecting twelve or thirteen year old things out of a tiny five or six year old.

Slow down.   Five and six year olds are still little, and home should be more than just a “home base” to check in upon here and there.   Activities outside the home are not truly necessary for five and six year olds.   Home really still really needs to be the focus of the day, week and year.  Nature is still a powerful, soothing force for five and six year olds and for parents, too, so see what you can nurture around your own home – even if it is just a potted herb garden on the patio and a birdfeeder.

Give time to yourself, so you can be at the top of your game.

‘What are your best tips for guiding five and six year olds?


About these ads

11 thoughts on “Gentle Discipline By Age–Part Three

    • Elizabeth – Violence in what way? Weapon play in play? Or do you mean hitting or biting or something like that?

  1. Hi Carrie,
    Thanks for reminding me that 6 yr Olds still need us! Mine is my oldest & I’ve noticed that naturally I’m just not giving her as much physical attention but i need too! Such a sweetness comes fromthat noticed hug. We’ve just discovered little house on the prairie audio tape for the car & I’ve noticed that inadvertently she’s becoming more concerned & interested in our home. It’s the little things! Thanks again.

  2. Pingback: Gentle Discipline By Age–Part Four | The Parenting Passageway

  3. I am struggling with not throwing a bunch of threats at my 5 year old. I do pause and think, how can I get this child to move on this (chore, or what have you) or what can I say/do to get her to stop teasing her younger sister to death, and pushing her older sisters buttons. I feel like when I make a threat of losing a play-date or something fun, or a threat to spend time alone, or something else…and sometimes I am just making a stretch to find what I can threaten her with, she snaps out of it…temporarily. I feel really unauthentic because most of the threats are empty and I don’t want to or plan to follow through with them. I just feel like I’ve forgotten or have become too exhausted to reach for other tools, and she responds to the threats.

    Any tools you can suggest for a middle child of this age who consistently teases her siblings??? I’ve read that you don’t take the ugly out. So if they are unkind to each other they don’t get time with friends. I just don’t know how to practically work that out, except with threatening. It also would usually mean everyone is punished because most of our outings to meet up with friends we do as a family.

    Also tools to get this age moving with a chore or getting out the door, or ready for bed, etc. that I’ve gathered from reading your posts all of these years: Do it with them. Talk in pictures. Rhythm. I need to post these on my fridge so I don’t revert to yelling/threatening.

    • Ramona,
      For that little 5 year old, the middle child, I think family dynamics of being the middle child often comes into play. I would try to ignore some and see what happens, because sometimes children do that sort of thing for attention, even if it is negative attention. Most of the middle children I have met when they are young, feel like they get the short end of the stick not being oldest and not being the baby. Set aside 15 minutes a day to be just with her, either to read to her, draw together or just listen. If you notice them fighting in the afternoons or whenever, get them outside. It is harder (but not impossible) to fight outside. Outside time during sibling fighting stages is vital. A good hike or swim takes the fight out of everyone!
      I hope that helps. Not taking the ugly out works when one will follow through. It is never made as an announcement or threat. It just is everyone must be super tired. The most effective way to do anything is not to announce. Seriously. It just happens. There is a story on this blog somewhere of one of my friends (whose children are now grown) and they were spitting in her car whilst they were in line to go and get some kind of fast food treat and she just carefully eased out of line and went home. She didn’t say a word until they got home and they asked, why did you go home? and she just said she didn’t get treats for little people who spit in her car. However, in the case of our sweet middle children, I think sometimes a different tactic is needed.
      Great question, and I look forward to seeing you try this combination for two weeks and reporting back.
      Lastly, don’t forget to get your ho hum on. Try not to give it so much attention, and praise the great things your five year old is doing.

  4. Thanks Carrie. We had a very difficult day today which spiraled out of control through our bedtime routine and getting everyone down. I am going to work on making more connections with her throughout the day, getting them outside (though 9 months pregnant and lacking some energy at the moment) and ho-hum.

    She had a chocolate brownie for “tea-time” today, and I am wondering how much that played into her malicious and aggressive tendencies towards her sisters and her in-your-face disobedience to us. Might try to keep chocolate off the radar for a while and see if that helps in the least.

    So…here is an interesting story for you. We have been trying to call her behavior what it is and help her identify her feelings. Mainly jealousy (towards sisters which leads to her teasing and such). Today we were invited to play at a friends house for the first time. As we pulled up to their very old, large, historic, beautiful home in the loveliest of areas, my 5 year old let out a cry. When I asked her what was going on she said “Sophie has a beautiful home, and I don’t like that! I am jealous of her home. I want to have a beautiful home!” I was stunned, one that she looked at the outside of a house and noticed/felt that, before even stepping foot inside, and two that she named what she was feeling. Tonight we talked a bit about jealous feelings and how we can deal with them. This was at dinner. We tried to keep it simple, and at bedtime prayed about it a bit. But this was all kind of scattered throughout a tumultuous evening revolving around her out-of-control-ness…if I may put it that way.

    Maybe it was the play-date, or maybe the chocolate, or maybe she is just looking for some attention.

    Thanks for all of your support and encouragement. Your blog has been a friend and help to me for the past 5 years.

    • Ramona,
      You left out a very important piece originally! 9 months pregnant!! That is a lot for a five year old to deal with, even though she already has a younger sibling. I think that could be a huge piece of it.
      In regards to your story about your little one, I feel sort of two ways about this. Knowing we have feelings is important. I know almost every article talks about naming feelings, and you know your child best, but I will be honest and say that I am for not really specifically naming feelings until closer to nine. Feelings are largely undifferentiated at this age (ie, “bad” “sad” if you ask a little person how they are feeling when something is wrong)….But I am all for all feelings are okay, but all actions are not. The feeling is not what matters, it matters what you do with it (or don’t do with it). A young child is still in her will forces, so sometimes the less said the better and the more willing and doing you can help her come up with that could be appropriate is what is important when you can see these negative feelings starting. I think this is where we start hearing about calm hands, gentle hands, calm voice little snail, etc. If you decide to think and meditate on that and see what you come up with. Simplicity Parenting has a good deal to say about this, if you are looking for a source. Hope that helps. I think also going back to basics – as you mentioned – whole foods, sleep, rhythm, outside play, work with you in the home. Less is more, less is more, less is more, especially if you do have a sweet little one that is more sensitive to everything (more sensitive to change in the environment, sensitive to food, sensitive to playing one on one, etc). Since you are pregnant and low on energy, keeping things as simple and easy as possible, with early dinners, calm afternoons, early bedtimes, may be your best bet right now. :)
      Lots of love and you are doing a great job!

  5. Thanks Carrie! More to think about for sure! I read simplicity parenting…probably too fast to really process most of it. I found it helpful in a lot of ways…and yet, most ideas and thoughts I read in that book, I’ve already read here! ;)

    “A young child is still in her will forces, so sometimes the less said the better and the more willing and doing you can help her come up with that could be appropriate is what is important when you can see these negative feelings starting. I think this is where we start hearing about calm hands, gentle hands, calm voice little snail, etc.”

    do you have a back post, or book, or article that gives more suggestions for how to talk to the young child in this way? I feel like I could use some concrete specific ideas/examples to help me with this! Thanks!

  6. Thanks Carrie! I’ve been reading for five years now, and still need to be reminded time and time again of these things! This is a great back post, I forwarded the link to my husband as well. Blessings!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s