Discipline for the Four-Year-Old

Challenges with the four-year-old has come up on three separate lists I am on, so I tried to round up some helpful posts for you all:

The ever-popular “defiance” post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/16/a-few-fast-words-regarding-defiance-in-children-under-the-age-of-6/

Gentle Discipline:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/16/gentle-discipline-as-authentic-leadership/

“Command, Don’t Demand” – not sure why the permalink says what it says:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/20/getting-past-fear/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/22/developing-healthy-boundaries/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/26/big-tools-for-the-big-picture/

A good read for many of you trying to replace another parenting style with gentle discipline:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/29/top-10-must-have-tools-for-gentle-discipline/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/16/irritation-points-for-parents-of-children-birth-age-4/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/30/help-my-child-doesnt-seem-to-know-right-from-wrong/

Here are some very specific to the four-year-old:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/09/more-about-social-experiences-for-the-four-year-old/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/05/realistic-expectations-for-the-four-year-old/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/05/parenting-the-high-needs-older-child/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/03/more-about-the-four-year-old/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/28/realistic-expectations-day-number-ten-of-20-days-toward-being-a-more-mindful-mother/

Scroll down to the end for some tips of how to handle the four-year-old year:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/07/peaceful-life-with-a-four-year-old/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/04/fantastic-four-year-old/

Thanks,

Carrie

Favorite Books For Gentle Discipline

Specifically Regarding Anger:

  • “When Anger Hurts Your Kids” by Mckay, Fanning, Paleg and Landis
  • “love and anger the parental dilemma” by Nancy Samalin with Catherine Whitney

Under Age 9:

  • WALDORF:  “You Are Your Child’s First Teacher” by Rahima Baldwin Dancy
  • WALDORF:  “Beyond the Rainbow Bridge
  • WALDORF:  “Heaven On Earth” by Sharifa Oppenheimer, although I cannot recommend the references to time-out.  Those of you who read this blog know I oppose time-out.  Many parents do love this book though!
  • WALDORF:  “You’re Not The Boss of Me!  Understanding the Six/Seven Year Transformation” available through www.waldorfbooks.org
  • WALDORF:  Donna Simmons’ Audio Downloads  on “The Changing Face Of Discipline” and also “Talking Pictorially and Living Actively with Your Young Child” – can be found here: http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/audio-downloads.html
  • WALDORF“The Challenge of The Will” by Margret Meyerkort and Rudi Lissau
  • DEVELOPMENTAL:  For understanding realistic expectations for each age, I still like The Gesell Institute books “Your One-Year-Old” “Your Two-Year-Old” etc.  They are available at many libraries and are also easily picked up used.
  • DEVELOPMENTAL/LOVING GUIDANCE:  “Mothering Your Nursing Toddler”  by Norma Bumgarner
  • ATTACHMENT PARENTING:  “Attached At The Heart”  by Barbara Nicholson and Lysa Parker (one chapter of discipline)
  • GENTLE DISCIPLINE:  La Leche League’s “Adventures in Gentle Discipline” –this also has a part about time out as mentioned by parents, which I oppose.    The voices of many mothers are throughout this book, so you will have to pick through what resonates with you.  Particularly if you are also a Waldorf family, the “talk talk talk” of some of the families with their tiny children  may not resonate with you!  There is however, a good section as to what “gentle discipline” is and isn’t in the beginning of the book.  A good place to start if you are new to gentle discipline and equate it in your head with children having no boundaries (which is NOT what it is!)
  • ATTACHMENT PARENTING:  “Connection Parenting”  by Pam Leo
  • GENTLE DISCIPLINE:  “Easy To Love, Difficult To Discipline”  by Becky Bailey
  • GENTLE DISCIPLINE:  “Playful Parenting” by Lawrence Cohen
  • GENTLE DISCIPLINE:  “Discipline Without Distress” by Judy Arnall – you can search through this blog for chapter summaries of this book, not all strategies in this book are compatible with a Waldorf approach but overall a helpful book
  • And may I ever so humbly recommend this blog?:)

Over Age 9:

  • WALDORF:  Specific to the Nine-Year-Old Change:  Donna Simmons’s Audio Downloads on Third Grade and also “The Changing Face of Discipline for ages 9 and up”
  • WALDORF:  Specific to the Nine-Year-Old Change:  “Encountering the Self” by Hermann Koepke
  • GENERAL PARENTING:  “Hold On to Your Kids” by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate
  • GENTLE DISCIPLINE:  “Kids Are Worth It!” by Barbara Coloroso.  Has some good examples of how to “hold the space” in it. 
  •  GENTLE DISCIPLINE:  “Loving Your Child Is Not Enough:  Positive Discipline That Works” by Nancy Samalin with Martha Moraghan Jablow
  • GENTLE DISCIPLINE:  “Raising Your Spirited Child” and “Kids, Parents and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka  (I put these here because the strategies essentially involve emotion coaching and I feel that is better for an older child).

 

Over Age 12:

  • WALDORF:  Specific to the 12- Year -Old Change:  Hermann Koepke’s “On the Threshold of Adolescence”
  • WALDORF:  Also, several of Steiner’s works are now available for education and observation of the adolescent:   http://www.waldorfbooks.com/edu/adolescence.htm
  • WALDORF:  “Between Form and Freedom” by Betty Staley
  • GENTLE DISCIPLINE:  “Kids Are Worth It!”  by Barbara Coloroso
  • GENTLE DISCIPLINE:  “Kids, Parents and Power Struggles” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka and “Raising Your Spirited Child” by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka
  • GENTLE DISCIPLINE:  “Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids” by Naomi Drew
  • COMMUNCICATION:  “NonViolent Communication”  by Marshall Rosenberg (and to me, once your child hits 15 or so, why not attend a NVC Group together and practice?)
  • COMMUNICATION:  “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk” and “Liberated Parents, Liberated Children:  Your Guide To A Happier Family” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

 

Let me be clear, one can certainly read the gentle discipline books for the older children when one’s child is younger and gleam things from them, but some of  the approaches are best saved for when your child is older!

And finally, some gentle books for the mother:

CHRISTIAN:  “The Power of A Positive Mother” by Karol Ladd

GENERAL/BUDDHIST: “Everyday Blessings:  The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting” by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn

WALDORF/GENERAL:  “Mitten Strings for God:  Reflections For Mothers In A Hurry” by Katrina Kenison

Blessings,

Carrie

No Replacement For Good Parenting

There is so much talk these days regarding the great lessons that team sports and other classes can teach a child.  My oldest child is eight now, and the question of outside activities is starting to come up; activities for learning how to get along in a group, work as a team within a group, and for the social end of things because  having friends and even a best friend is important at this age.

My husband and I were talking about this issue the other night, and he commented something very interesting to me.  He said, “Well, it seems as if many parents want to use these team sports and classes as a way to parent their children but in reality there is no substitute for good parenting.”

Wow!

Scouting, team sports, karate, and all the many other activities a child could be doing  is a supplement, not the main course.  To many of you out there, you may be thinking, well, of course!  However, once a child is in school much of the day away from the home, and then in other classes or sports for part of the day, and then perhaps home with homework, there may be less time for parenting than one imagines.  The parent may possibly be shoved into the role of “time facilitator” or “manager of events”  for their child rather than “parent to help guide child through life in these teachable moments.” 

Good parenting takes quantity time.  If you and your child have a decreased amount of time together, chances are that there will be less teachable moments that come up.  You may  have to work harder at connection within the blur that is each day that rushes by. 

If your child is school-aged but still under the fifth or sixth grade level, I would advise you to seriously look at what commitments you and your child have outside of school and to think about limiting those engagements.

I think it is very important for school-aged children who are not homeschooling to have ample opportunity to actually be at home.  The younger school-aged child still needs to be firmly entrenched in the family.    It is also important that the school-aged child has plenty of time to work on practical life skills that tend to get squished out by homework and extracurricular activities.  Every child should be learning how to clean house, cook meals, grocery shop, sew, knit, fix things around the house and on the car as they get older, and garden.  Boys and girls alike!

Team sports, classes and other activities have their place for children, but let’s not confuse the lessons these activities teach with the necessity of good parenting.

Peace,

Carrie

A Few Fast Words Regarding “Defiance” In Children Under the Age of 6

Does this exist?

From a Waldorf perspective, children in the first seven year cycle are neither inherently good nor bad but learning.  They are not “defiant”; defiance implies a fully conscious knowing of right and wrong and choosing to do the opposite, wrong, thing.  Since in the land of Waldorf parenting we believe the first seven years are a dreamy state, a state where logical thought has not yet entered, a state where the child is one giant sense organ (an eye!) and just taking in sensory impressions without a filter, there can be no “defiance”. Many times the power struggles we create with our children are a result of our own lack of knowledge of developmental stages, not having the right tools to guide our child, our own inner issues at the moment and not as much to do with the child as we thought!

Of course a small child wants what they want when they want it.  This is part of the fact that the small child lives specifically within their bodies and within their WILL.  Remember, Waldorf is about willing, feeling, and thinking.  Thinking comes in much later.  A two-year-old  will push against forms that you create in rhythm; this is why the rhythm is for YOU if you have a child under the age of 6.  If your child does not want to participate in what is going on at the moment, you are still DOING it yourself and the child may or may not join in.  This is another reason to not “push” official “school” with a child of three or four; in the classroom environment there is a whole class with older children doing the same thing  to help hold the space but at home the child has perhaps no other age to carry them along.

As far as “not listening” which seems to be the most common compliant hooked into “defiance” (ie, I tell them something and they don’t do it) (and by the way, I hear this in the part of the country where I live starting with one-year-olds!  My one-year-old doesn’t listen!  They are so naughty!), a small child is not SUPPOSED to listen. 

Yes, re-read that for a moment.  You may think this is a very radical statement!

Read it again.  Your 2, 3, 4, and yes even 5 year old is living in their BODY,  not in their head.  When you give them a “verbal command” and they have to go up into their head to process it, this is involving thinking, which is something Waldorf educators see children using as a dominant way to respond to an environment LATER.  It is NOT that small children do not think, it is NOT that they do not have thoughts, important thoughts!!,  but that they live in the moment, they have this will to do what they want without many overriding mechanisms at this point to slow things down. They are LEARNING.

From an attachment parenting perspective, we also do not look at the small child as being “defiant” or “naughty.”  We look at what the child might be feeling underneath the behavior being displayed.  We look at what we can modify in the environment.  We look at how we can calmly guide the child in the situation. 

We look at this in Waldorf as well, it is just in Waldorf we tend not to ask as many questions of the child because we feel words may not be the best way to communicate with the small child who is living in the BODY. We try to communicate through movement, through fantasy, through song and verse.  This changes as the child grows!  It does not last forever!

With both Waldorf and attachment parenting, we strive to look at NORMAL developmental behavior.  A three, four and five ear old, even a six-year-old may throw themselves on the floor, throw an object, scream and cry.  Dressing themselves with only a reminder comes in at the AVERAGE age of five.  If you are having trouble with a specific age, please, please use the tags sidebar and click on the age that is problematic right now to you:  the three-year-old, the-four-year-old, etc etc.  Four and six seem to be ages that give parents the MOST trouble.  There are many posts specifically geared to these ages.

If you feel you are having difficulty with changing your mindset from a punitive, punishment, my –child –is –wrong –and- I –am –right- mindset with a small child, this is not going to get you going anywhere great.  Here are some posts to help you!

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/17/raising-peaceful-children/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/16/mindful-parenting-practices-that-every-parent-should-know/

and my personal favorite regarding how we create battlefields where we and our children are on opposite sides:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/22/the-battlefield-of-the-mind-anger-and-parenting/

This is about realistic expectations for toddlers and includes the different disciplinary styles of families:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/10/tripping-into-the-toddler-years/

If you are still saying, well, but MY child does this and i have no tools, I urge you to call your local La Leche League Chapter or Attachment Parenting Chapter.  Many times the Leaders there can help you troubleshoot discipline issues and challenges over the phone and give helpful, gentle suggestions!  They may also have special meetings geared JUST to gentle discipline.

Gentle discipline does NOT mean not setting boundaries, but we try to do it in a way that respects the child’s developmental stage, keep the child’s dignity intact and guide the child.  Here are examples of ways to set limits for toddlers in gentle ways with consideration for the child:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/11/common-toddler-challenges-and-how-to-solve-them/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/09/potty-training-with-love/

 THE THREE YEAR OLD:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/19/peaceful-life-with-a-three-year-old/

THE FOUR YEAR OLD:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/06/03/more-about-the-four-year-old/   and this one:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/07/peaceful-life-with-a-four-year-old/

THE FIVE YEAR OLD:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/23/peaceful-living-with-the-six-year-old/

THE SIX YEAR OLD:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/23/peaceful-living-with-the-six-year-old/

THE SEVEN YEAR OLD:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/19/peaceful-living-with-your-seven-year-old/

and for the big picture, some tools:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/29/top-10-must-have-tools-for-gentle-discipline/

We set boundaries, but many times we often deal with things indirectly!  Here is an example a mom sent in, and here is how I might have handled that:

(This is a four-year-old):  The situation was this: 

This morning, she wanted to sit in our car-daddy got in & drove away to work -she pitched a fit, threw a little car she was holding. I told her she may not throw her toys. So she threw a little soft toy she was holding with her other hand. So I told her to sit down right where she was. “i will not sit down’ hmmm. So I say, you may stay put until you sit down & carried on with the skipping game with her older sister. Eventually she sat down.

What was the feeling of the little girl?  Perhaps she wanted her daddy to stay home, perhaps she just wanted to play in the car but daddy needed to go right then, perhaps she just wanted to try out pretending to go to work with daddy.  Let’s attribute positive intent!

Maybe I would have said, “You really wanted to go to work today!  Did you know that even animals go to work?  Once upon a time, there was  a frog who really wanted to go to work too, but he couldn’t jump!  (take chalk and draw two lines, I assume this situation happened in the driveway or the garage to involve a car??).  Can you be a frog and show me how to hop over these two lines?”

Perhaps I would have said, “Oh, I see cars on the floor!  Maybe they need a road! “ and get out something to draw or build a road.

Perhaps I would have said, “Wow, I really could use your help! I can’t figure out how many times in a row your sister can skip!  Maybe we could count together?”

Perhaps she needed a snack and then we put the toy cars back in the garage together!

Those are just some examples of an indirect way to approach things; distraction is a very viable tool even up through age 7 and we often forget!  Restitution is also VERY important, but we cannot force restitution in the moment of flooding emotion, we must calm down and go back to it.  Forcing the child to do “X” when they are upset and you are upset is not a productive learning tool; a sincere opportunity exists for learning when the flooded moment has passed.  But this is still through action, not so many words!

Hope these thoughts are helpful and many blessings on your day as you become the peaceful parent you want to be!

Lots of love,

Carrie

An Iron Fist or A Feather?

I know  many mothers who believe that being the Queen of Their Home means essentially micro-managing every single thing in their home.  Answering every single question or word uttered by their child.  It means managing not only homeschooling, the chores around the home, but the people as well – Dad, the children, the dog.

I believe if you are the Queen of Your Home, you will rule more gently than that!  A rhythm is not a micro-managed schedule – it is an order, but it does not preclude stopping for warmth, love, hugs and kisses and fun!  It does not involve hovering over each member of the family, but it does involve Loving Accountability for the children.

How many of us have done this with their older children?

Mother:  Please pick your clothes up off the floor!

Child:  In a minute, I have to go to the bathroom!

Mother:  Okay, when you come out of the bathroom, please pick up your clothes.

(Child running around and jumping on other siblings)

Mother:  Come and pick up your clothes please!

(Child wrestling with dog and building jump for dog out of pillows)

Mother:  Are you sure you flushed?  Can you come and pick up these clothes now as I asked?

Big sigh here.

Loving Accountability for the child under the age of 7 would be to do the activity with the child to help them be on task.  For example, on average, a child begins to dress himself with reminders at age 5- this is the average age!  An average age to dress himself without reminders or help needed is age 10!

So, step number one would be to be familiar with normal developmental expectations!  Is what you asking reasonable?  What age is your child?  Is your child under the age of 7?    Step number two would be to understand you cannot be a verbal-only parent with a child under the age of 7.  Step number three would be to realize that you are doing a disservice for your child over the age of 7 by consistently micro-managing what you ask them to do.  Say it once, help the child if it is a new task and they need to learn, break it down into steps with them, practice it together  over a period of time and when they have it the task down give them ownership of it.  If the clothes are not picked up the floor, oh dear,  I guess I can read you the chapter of this book when the clothes jump into that drawer!  Not a punishment there, just a gentle prod of ownership and Loving Accountability.

You can have a wonderful rhythm to your day where the family helps participate in the loving care of the home!  Put away The Iron Fist and live with the notion of Loving Accountability and a light-as- a-feather touch.  A Queen should never be ruffled in her own castle!

Quiet confidence in parenting is a great strength!  Test yourself this week:  what expectations do I have?  Are they reasonable?  Am I ruling with An Iron Fist or a Feather?  Am I exuding quiet confidence and holding the space with quiet calmness or am I completely exasperated?  If you feel calm and confidence, this will decrease your anger as a parent.

This week in your inner work, see if you can ponder the images of An Iron Fist or A Feather.  See if you can understand that while many times we become angry in parenting, we can also choose to back up the train and respond with calmness and confidence if we keep in mind normal developmental expectations, the developmental needs and responsiveness of children under and over 7, how to assist an older child in learning a task, and giving them ownership and accountability.  Being mindful in the face of stress is an area of practice and focus for many of us!

May your touch be as light as a feather this week in your home,

Carrie

Embracing and Uplifting

If I had to perform two gestures that signified Waldorf parenting and Waldorf education, it would be the gesture of embracing and protecting the child but also one of uplifting the child.

To me, there are two things that a child needs.  One thing is unconditional love and warmth and delight in who they are.  This actually can be a very easy thing to say, an easy thing to give lip service to and a much harder thing to face and confront in practice!   For example, many times if a child is very much like us in temperament, we see the worst of ourselves in that child and we so don’t want the child to grow up and be like us!  We try so hard to mold them into something else, anything else,  but not our worst traits!  Don’t be like us!  Or, conversely, sometimes we have children that are so different in temperament than us that we just are not sure how to handle it or where to go with that.  If only they could be a little more quiet, a little less active or only if they would move around more and enjoy being outside more!

How much better if we could forgive ourselves for our perceived inadequacies; how much better if we could show our children how to live with the fact that humans are not perfect; how much better for the child to feel loved and delighted in because they are just the unique them and they are here, in a sense,  to teach US!

And so here comes the second thing that children need: if these children are indeed on a journey to a particular end as set forth by God or by destiny or whatever you believe, and if we are all here to help each other within this family and teach each other, what a child may need from us is guidance.  They may need our help as they adjust to this foreign life on earth, into these growing bodies, into social and cultural customs so they can function in our world and our society.

And sometimes this involves uplifting our child to the next level even if they are not completely happy about it.  That is the hard and fine line of parenting – respecting that the child is here for us to learn from, but also recognizing that we are here to help them, to help them move to the next level when they are ready (or at least to show them gently that the next level exists!) and how to be respectful in doing that.

Part of Waldorf parenting is respect for the idea that a three-year-old is different than a seven-year-old who is different than a ten-year-old.  That is something that really has helped me along my journey, where so many parenting books seem to think all ages can be dealt with in the same way.

Contrary to popular opinion and Stupid Waldorf Myth, in Waldorf parenting and education, the protective bubble of Kindergarten does not last forever.  The approach to Science through the stories of the natural world in the Early Grades does not last forever.  The world does eventually open up to reading newspapers, seeing television programs, being spoken to directly as opposed to modeling and showing the child something to imitate.  All of these things eventually happen!

But, the point is, that there is a time and a place in parenting and in education for what happens when.  There is nothing within the Waldorf curriculum that is willy-nilly, all of it builds upon each thing taught within each year.  The math of the math of the Second Grade builds upon the math of the First Grade; there is not the hodge-podge of things one finds in most curriculums these days.

I think the difference in Waldorf is that it is not ‘program-based” with a promise of The Latest and Greatest Educational Advancement that wear off over time to be replaced by some other Latest and Greatest Educational Advancement.  It is an educational approach and philosophy rooted firmly in childhood development, holistic education and what will help that child attain optimal health and development not only now but as a future adult.

I find Waldorf parenting to be much the same way.  The things we do for our small children – helping accustom them to rhythm, protecting the senses, understanding where they are in their bodies – lays the foundation for the years of ages 7-14 and 14-21.

Embracing and uplifting; the foundation of good parenting and good education.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Raising Peaceful Children

This is probably the most important thing one can think about in this world – raising a child that will become an adult who is peaceful, who can be peaceful in the midst of whatever circumstances come their way, a child who can be a peacemaker with others.

To me, there are many ways to work toward this in parenting.  For all ages, I believe the most important thing is to be calm oneself and to be able to model being calm.  Children, especially children under the age of the 9-year change   can be seen as having/being prone to “an excess of emotion”.  Therefore, self-control is not the strongest point of a child under the age of 9…and logical reasoning begins around the age of 14….so, it is really up to you, the adult to model how to be calm and how to be a peacemaker while the child takes all these years to develop these skills.

Remember how big and huge and scary you can look to your child in your moments of highest anger.  A giant, to be sure and an image that can be stuck in a child’s mind permanently.   I am not suggesting that as parents we can be perfect and never get angry and always behave calmly.  However, I am suggesting that we do as much as we need to do to keep ourselves as centered as possible. 

For women, I truly think this means not wearing so many hats.  Many women are not only working inside the home, but outside the home as well. They are running businesses, parenting, volunteering, trying to be perfect wives and mothers and neighbors – all whilst they have small children.  Some women handle this beautifully, but many women find it to be a fast-moving train that is difficult to jump off.  Priorities count:  your children will only be little once and that is it.  Wearing so many hats forces things to be hurried, stressed, anxious and can lead to less than calm moments.  Is it worth it?

For women who work within the home, I find so  many of them are trying to do everything perfectly.  Keep in mind that people are more important than keeping things clean, than material things, than having the perfect home.  Many of the mothers I speak with feel so isolated and despite so much information being available through books, radio, TV, the Internet, seem to have a limited grasp on developmental expectations, and positive tools for discipline.  There is a lot of conflicting information out there, and it is confusing!

I offer this as a way to discern this information:  you cannot err on the side of being too gentle (unless you are equating gentle with no limit setting).  You can set limits and still be very gentle indeed.  To me, connection and gentleness are of utmost importance as I travel this path.  Any method or thing that recommends otherwise is not what I hold to be true.

The truth is that the foundation for connection and closeness is laid in the Early Years. You know, the ones we have so backward in the United States.  The years where people ask you how fast you are going to push your child away to “be independent”.  When are they weaning, when are they sleeping by themselves, why do they cling, when are you leaving them to go on vacation for a week alone, when do you need a break from that baby?  All these questions that have things so wrong.  A baby, a toddler, a preschooler, a child in Early Elementary really needs these years for connection, for compassion and empathy and for intimacy within the family.  This leads to a greater ability later on to be independent at the proper time. 

Frustration can be a key cause of feeling and acting not peacefully!  If you can do your best to revise, reframe how you are thinking about something, sometimes that can be the key to heading off frustration and anger before it starts.  Set limits in a peaceful way, and stick to them calmly.  Listen to your child, listen to their point of view, understand their developmental level.

Work on your own anger, your own hostility, your own sarcasm.  Try to model being able to step away, to bite your own tongue, to use less words, to step out of the room and breathe and come back in.   Model finding solutions to problems, framing things positively.    As you model emotional health, so will your children be able to handle things peacefully.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Foundations For A Healthy Childhood

Waldorf education is all about health; the health of the child and where that child is today and where that child will be in the future.  I urge you to go and listen to this FREE audio download regarding Waldorf as a Therapeutic Education if you have not discovered it  already, here is the link:   http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/bookstore-for-waldorf-homeschooling/audio-downloads.html   This talk has a playtime of about 67 minutes so you can plan accordingly.

As you are planning for fall for the big and the small kids, let’s take a moment to remember some of the essentials for  a healthy childhood:

  • Happy parents comes to mind first.  Your work on your marriage or partnership, your own inner work is of utmost importance.  I know I keep saying it over and over, but it is so important.   Your child only starts to separate from you beginning at age 9, and views themselves as part of you.  If you are unhappy, not joyous in the home, unhappy in parenting, then please take the time to meditate, pray, talk to a counselor or whatever you need to do to get yourself centered and peaceful and joyous.   I hear from parents all day long who truly seem to be miserable being home.  This is why many families evaluate their decision to homeschool their children year-by-year, child-by-child.  No, I do not believe sending a child to school gives one more time “to work on oneself” or fixes the problem typically.  I have heard some parents say the worse thing they ever did was send their child to school for a year and then try to come back to homeschooling (and other children and families seem to handle this fine!!).    However, the recognition that there are things going within the family and the family dynamic is of utmost importance.
  • Within your planning of your rhythm for fall, please do plan in some time just for you.  I  am not one of those people who believes that one needs to be away from one’s children to be fulfilled or recharged, but some people do need that and I respect that, and I do think many mothers are very guilty of not scheduling appointments for their own teeth, their own physicals, time with their spouse or partner which does lead to problems later on.  These are things that also have to happen.  Make them happen, and you won’t be sorry!
  • RHYTHM.  Children who are high-needs, children who have sensory processing disorders and other challenges often actually need a bit of a tighter rhythm than others.  A rhythm should not be a stranglehold schedule, but it should provide a flow to the day.  Younger children may have a rhythm that includes different practical work or activities each day, while older children may work within a head-heart-hands approach where some of the same activities are repeated over a block of time more than once a week (otherwise it would be hard for them to complete any projects, wouldn’t it, if the child was only working on said project once a week!). 
  • Sleep and rest.  These are biggies.  All children who are not napping, and this includes the biggest children of them all, the adults, should have quiet time after lunch.  As a homeschooling parent, you will need this break.  And, if you cannot figure out why your four, five or six year old who is no longer napping cannot settle down during quiet time, I have to ask you:  What are YOU doing?  Are you laying down quietly and resting, or are you running around, on the computer, on the phone, doing chores?  If you lay down and rest, your children will imitate you!
  • Healthy diet.  In this day and age, there are so many food allergies, food sensitivities.  If your child is having behavioral issues, many parents have shared with me that the child’s diet needed adjusting in some way.  Perhaps an allergist, a homeopath or other health care provider can steer you in the right direction. 
  • Many folks believe that Waldorf for the Early Years involves children being able to totally entertain themselves, but I personally find in this age of the “restless child” that they need a rhythm and a play area set up to assist in this.  They may even need you to not be involved in play, but to at least give them a bit of an idea. “I am the elderly woman washing dishes, and you are the traveler coming to my village.”  They may need you to set up play scenarios at night after they have gone to bed, or to move the playroom around so the toys seem “brand new”.  Fostering creative play is very important, and there are ways that as adults we can help that process along.
  • Time in nature, nature games that use all senses, and gardening is very important.  Another thing to consider in your planning as this forms such an important basis of childhood. 

 

Cheers!

Carrie

Carrie’s Laws of Childhood

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,

Carrie

The Power of Being A Positive Mother!

Today we had some friends with their children  over to swim and I looked around in amazement at how much the children  had grown – how many of them have already “thinned out”, how many were all legs and such.  It was truly a time to enjoy the marvels of their healthy bodies running and playing and swimming under the sun.

And what I realized in that shining sunlight was that these were what a friend of mine would call “tender and precious” children.  It is not that these children don’t have their own bumps in the path, or their times of disequilibrium as they grow and mature, but that they are truly tender and precious – just like their beautiful, wise and wonderful mothers!

Because all of us are spiritual beings on a spiritual path.  My path is to draw closer to God throughout my lifetime.  How much are we called to be positive beacons for our children,  to lift our children up to the next level, the next place, to support and love unconditionally?  How much are we called to just love one another and these beautiful beings who chose to share their souls with ourselves and within our family?

There are so many myths surrounding motherhood in our society – that motherhood somehow forces a woman not to use all of her skills, that motherhood somehow stunts a woman’s growth in her life, that motherhood is somehow “just being a mother”.

We have the unique opportunity to model for our children the very best qualities of ourselves and our society.  We have an incredible opportunity for self-examination and self-discovery.  Why does this behavior bother me so?  How can I surrender myself and decrease myself and increase my neutral, calm, centered peacefulness more?  How can I be a better listener?  How can I use less words but still gently guide my child as needed?  Motherhood  provides us the opportunity to ask the difficult questions of our own values and priorities and really solidify that.

Being a positive mother is one of the most wonderful gifts you can give your children.  Use your words so wisely, so carefully with your tender and precious children.  We are all adept at finding one another’s faults, those weaknesses.  Back off and also see the good, see the wonderful moments as they are.  See the things that people say to you with the best underlying intention that you can imagine. See the things your children do with the best underlying intention possible.  As a Waldorf parent, I believe that small children are truly neither good nor bad, but again, on this spiritual path and learning.  I have tremendous influence here.  I am a woman of worth for my children and my family. 

Encourage your children, encourage other mothers, encourage your spouse and encourage yourself. 

Be wonderful in living this moment together,

Carrie