Once you have the basics of going to bed, waking up, naps and food happening around the same time each day, you can now look at planning perhaps the most important part of the day: how you will spend time with your children if you are the parent of small children, or how you will set up your homeschooling day if you have children in the grades (or a combination of children in the grades and small children not yet in the grades! ) This post is mainly about the Early Years, with food for thought for the grades. Continue reading
This is the term my husband and I used frequently when our older children were smaller: preferred parent of the week. You are probably familiar with this phenomenon if you too have small children whose temperaments are not so laid back…”no, no, MAMA DO!” or “I don’t want you!! I waaaaannnnntttt Daaaaddddyyy!!”
I honestly wonder, in those of you with big families, does this occur much past the third child? It seems to me, by necessity, that the youngest members of the family often get used to older brothers and sisters helping out, and the flexibility that develops from that precludes the “Preferred Parent Of The Week” syndrome. I would love to hear from you if you have a comment on that!
Parents always want to know how to handle this. In our family, we didn’t argue about this for the sake of arguing (“No, you must have Daddy put your fork on the table!”) for small things, but there were certainly times when a child’s desires could not be accommodated. Mama had the wailing baby, so yes, little four year old, Daddy will have to give the bath. And yes, there would be wailing. But Daddy is a parent too.
It can be hard for parents going through this for the first time to not feel baffled and hurt, especially fathers. One has to carry on in good humor, this is a small child! They say all kinds of things and have all kinds of feelings! Once fathers realize this can be a very normal phase, I think many of them can sort of shore themselves up and not take it so personally. Whenever our children would go through that, we would just look at it other and shrug, “Guess you’re PPW this week!”
It is important to have a good sense of humor about the whole thing and also a very matter-of-fact, less words, less explaining kind of manner when things are not going the way the child wants.
I have a very astute friend who pointed out that if Dad is never on the “preferred list” for baths, ouchies, bedtime, etc that she wondered if the father and child were doing anything positive through play at all first. It is hard to expect the child to want Dad during those tired, hungry, hurt and whiny kind of times if the child and father have no positive bond together during happy times. There should always be time in the family schedule for FUN, with BOTH parents. Build on a happy platform of play as a foundation!
I would love to hear your experiences with “PPW”.
I believe the key difficulty lies in that adults of this time and place try to relate to small children through words and through the perception that the small child should be treated the same as an adult- provide logical explanations, more explanation, more talking, more experiences – in order to make discipline go well. The fact that the child then does something that was never done to them (“Why is my child hitting me and biting me? We don’t do that to them!” or disappointment when “She could have cared less that she was being wild and disrupting the baby’s nap. Why can’t she have consideration for the new baby?”)
Disappointing indeed, to discover all those parenting books were wrong, and to discover the completely different consciousness of the child.
The child of birth through seven should be living in their bodies, and we should be able to hold discipline through rhythm, through using song along with movement, through silence and loving authority as we keep calm and carry on. Less words, more warmth, more work on our parts.
In order to help our children, we have to become agents of doing. This is what a small child relates to. When we don’t show our children any meaningful work within a meaningful consistent rhythm, they are rightfully confused. Continue reading
Discipline is our seventh facet of a healthy family culture. Discipline, to me, boils down to nothing less than how you guide your child or children toward becoming a mature and healthy adult. Discipline requires authenticity, yes, but also a steadiness and platform of patience and evenness, and an understanding of children’s development and the best tools to use when. The tools of discipline, to me, differ based on the developmental stage of the child.
Being An Authentic Leader – This is one of the very first posts I ever wrote on this blog: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/10/16/gentle-discipline-as-authentic-leadership/
The first ingredient is of course, you. Your views, your steadiness, and yes, your family culture obviously influence things. And no, I don’t think you need to be this completely calm mother who walks around like she in a valium-induced haze. I know loads of mothers who have incredible energy! I do think, though, that there has to be a steadiness of not being completely overwhelmed and frustrated. And that, to be honest, can be really difficult when children are very small. And teenagers also take a lot of energy!
The qualities I think about most in my own mothering were the ones I described in the series “20 Days Toward More Mindful Mothering”. Some of my long-term readers might remember that series. Cultivating these qualities is what inner work and personal development is all about. You can see those posts here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/category/general-wisdom/20-days-toward-more-mindful-mothering/
How Do You View Children and Childhood? Much of this boils down to what you think about children. Do you think they are miniature adults with less experience just waiting to be filled up with knowledge? Do you think the consciousness of the child and the rationality of the child is the same as the adult? Many times we would point to teenagers, and laugh, and say, oh no of course a teenager is not as rational as an adult, but yet we parent them by talking them to death and expecting them to come to the same conclusions that a forty-three year old adult would in the same situation. They might, but they might not!
I often think of the ages of birth through seven being a time of doing, the time of age seven through age fourteen of being the time of strong feelings, and the time of age fourteen through age twenty-one being when rational thought is being developed. To me, childhood ends around the age of twenty-one.
If we concur that development does take time, that children of different ages actually are different in the way that they think and respond to things, then we can look at tools and expectations based upon development.
However, the one thing that remains steady through all of these ages is CONNECTION and ATTACHMENT. You cannot parent without this. Please do go back and read the posts that summarize the wonderful book “Hold On To Your Kids: Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers”. Connection is the number one way to discipline a child.
Discipline Tools – So, for me, the methods and tools of discipline looks a bit different dependent upon the child’s age. I have written many, many, many posts on this.
In a brief nutshell, for the ages birth to seven, your discipline techniques really involves slowing down. Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm, and slowing down really sets the tone for what happens. Small children should be involved in meaningful work, and plenty of indoor and outdoor play. Physically moving with your child into what needs to be done whilst you are singing and helping them is most helpful. Children of this age imitate what you are doing, so making sure you are doing something worthy of imitation is very important. Words and talking the child to death is the least important part of this picture.
For children ages seven to fourteen, this is a time to be a loving authority in your child’s life because there will be many instances of your child discovering what the boundaries of your home life truly are, and they are searching to see if you yourself walk the walk of what you are telling your child. Criticism of the parent seems to start in our times around ages nine or ten, not in the same way that a teenager criticizes, but children of this age certainly do notice if you tell them one thing and then do another! Calm, sure, steady and warm are hallmarks in discipline of this age.
For children fourteen to twenty-one, the parent is moving into more of an age of being the expert guide on life’s issues and the child is of course taking increasing responsibility. Here is an interesting blog post from over at Christopherus regarding parenting teenagers and talking specifically about dealing with friends: http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2005/07/keeping_one_ste.html
I just wanted to thank all of you who have been so supportive of my recent postings on children who have challenges in the realm of sensory modulation, and also regarding my postings on our twelve senses. This work is really important to me as a physical therapist and in how I see the generation of children coming up now who are really struggling in these areas.
Many parents are looking for resources that could be helpful in real life for their children with sensory challenges, children who have been diagnosed along the autistic spectrum, or children who are facing other challenges that are deemed “medical” but as we know from a holistic perspective involve the whole being.
Here are some resources I have been gathering since the workshop I attended on the twelve senses: Continue reading
I have written before about the really active, can-be-aggressive small child in several back posts of varying nature, but I had a few thoughts I wanted to share today. ( Please be sure to note I am dealing here with fiery temperaments, not especially with children dealing with sensory or developmental issues affecting behavior).
If you are struggling with a six year old who still seems rather “stuck” in immature behavior that involves physicality, I want to encourage you tonight. It doesn’t seem as if people really talk about this at all in parenting resources; it seems it is well- assumed that tantrums or any physical response to a limit is over by age three.
From what I have seen, six year olds can definitely still have a hard time controlling their hands, their emotions, their reactions, their physical responses and such. To those of us involved in Waldorf Education, this seems like of course! Has anyone ever read the book “Ramona The Brave” by Beverly Cleary? Here is a passage about fiery Ramona, six years old and in first grade at school, when she becomes completely angry at a classmate (for those of you who have not read this book it is a paper owl and Susan had copied what Ramona had done to make hers, which is why Ramona is angry in this chapter): Continue reading
“Second only to learning how to bond, to form strong attachments, the most important thing parents can give children is a sense of responsibility – knowing what they are responsible for and knowing what they aren’t responsible for, knowing how to say no and knowing how to accept no. Responsibility is a gift of enormous value….We’ve all been around middle-aged people who have the boundaries of an eighteen-month old. They have tantrums or sulk when others set limits on them, or they simply fold and comply with others just to keep the peace. Remember that these adult people started off as little people. They learned long, long ago to either fear or hate boundaries. The relearning process for adults is laborious.” – page177-178, “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
“Sad at heart, the King stepped from behind the screen, took the Prince by the hand, and led him away from the school. When they reached the royal palace, the King spoke thus to his son: “Anyone who has to be King someday and to rule over other people must first learn to rule over himself.” – From the short story “The Prince Who Could Not Read” in the book “Verses and Poems and Stories to Tell” by Dorothy Harrer
Helping a child learn to take responsibility for themselves is one of the hardest and most challenging tasks in parenting and also one of the most necessary. Continue reading
Have you all ever been in that sort of cycle with a child? Maybe the child gets really angry, you get angry and yell, the child yells, it all comes to a head, you both cry, but the cycle repeats. So many mothers I talk to feel sad, feel guilty, and can’t understand why things have to “come to that “ in order to really communicate with their child. Mothers also feel most guilty when they have things going on within their families, adult things, and the stress of what is going on comes out in the way they deal with their child’s behavior. Continue reading
Parenting calls on us to be patient even when we do not feel like it.
I have been thinking a lot about patience. I have written about patience before on this blog, but as I grow and change new thoughts come to me.
And what I really want to tell you today, my friends, is that the only way to increase your patience is to take your IMPATIENCE and replace it with LOVE.
Love for your children.
Love in knowing that maturity comes slowly.
Love in having a soft and gentle answer to what a child does that is immature.
Love in knowing when a child does need to be pushed a bit in order to move forward.
Love in being able to freeze time, in a sense, whilst the children are all screaming at once, and to still see the tenderness in that scene. To really see those needs that have to be met, but knowing there is time present to do that.
For one cannot be in a hurry in parenting. It solves nothing to jump to snap decisions, snap judgments, snap action. I have a dear friend who related to me one day that every time she was trying to get all her children out of the door, inevitably all of them would fall apart and all of them would all be talking, screaming or crying louder and louder to get her attention. Who should she listen to? Take turns, listen to “he said, she said”, pay attention to the youngest, the most urgent? I suppose any of the courses could be reasonable as we step in and try to fight and wade through all of this…but perhaps there is another way to look at it all.
And that is this: replace the frustration you are feeling with love; and keep your eye on the original intent. If it is time to go, then we get in the car and hash this out later. If it is time to eat, then we are eating and we can talk about all this in a bit. Guide your children toward the immediate need or goal, whether this is that it is time to go, time to eat, etc. Deal with the causes of falling apart as a separate issue once everyone calms down, and solve the problems. Maybe the cause of everyone falling apart was no one could find their shoes; therefore the shoes need to be in a central place so everyone can find them. Maybe there is a need for a bathroom break for everyone fifteen minutes before dinner. But these solutions will come after the immediate goal is met. Craft your life.
Slow, steady, warm and loving, These are the mantras of parenting. It can be hard to do this alone as we are just human; this is when your developed spiritual path will envelop your weaknesses, your frailness, your challenges and human-ness. Prayer avails much.
P is for Patience, but L is for Love.
“We have to remember that there is nothing more “enriching” for a young child than exploring his own world of home, filled with natural playthings and the work of caring for a family – housework, laundry, cooking – and exploring his own backyard.” – From Sharifa Oppenheimer’s “Heaven On Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Children, page 19
Liza wrote such a beautiful post here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/06/28/guest-post-meaningful-work-for-toddlers/ and I hope it was inspiring to those of you who have toddlers as your oldest children and you are trying to create your family life “from scratch”. I have a few things I would like to add as well to this meaningful post.
If you are wondering where to begin, Continue reading