Today we are going to talk about two very important things: the foundation of all rhythm in parenting and homeschooling, and then the biggest, fattest detractor and destroyer of rhythm. Continue reading
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