Freedom Versus Form

This has been a season where the theme of freedom versus form has been coming up repeatedly in my life, and as usual, I took this as a sign that I should write about this subject for my readers.

During one of the first few weeks on her Yahoo Group for homeschool planning called “Sketching It Out” that in homeschooling, Lisa Boisvert Mackenzie wrote something to the effect that we have a freedom so different than what is found in the Waldorf schools in bringing the impulses of Waldorf Education to the home, but then we have to create the form.  I have been mulling this thought around for several weeks now, where it has been germinating in my heart.  I  know from my own experiences in talking to  so many mothers and families that creating the form seems to be the most challenging part for families not just in homeschooling, but in parenting.

A small example in  parenting, for example,  Continue reading

Why Do I Yell At My Children So Much?

I think whenever there is a lot of yelling going on in a household, it signifies the possibility of several things:

1.  The household, or you, are under complete stress.  What  can you do to simplify your schedule, your rhythm, your life?

2.  Lack of nourishment for you at a physical level, an emotional level, or a soul level.  What can you do to fill your own bucket so you can be steady?  Do you need a break? If you are feeling stressed, how can you change the mood?  Being in nature is a huge help.

3.  I find sometimes the most gentle people are gentle up to a point, and then they explode.  I think this goes back to boundaries.  Sometimes gentle people can be too lax in boundaries, and all the small irritations build up until it all explodes.  I think what one finds with folks who have older children, who have multiple children, is that they are much quicker to set a boundary in a kind but firm way before it all escalates.  Always think about boundaries. Continue reading

Ways To Encourage Your Child

Look for the positive things in your child, and love and encourage your child.  There is a saying of something to the effect that we do not teach a toddler to walk by berating them every time they fall, but we encourage them when they make it onto their feet and stagger a few steps.  This is the same for older children; the things they are trying out and doing are different than learning to walk, but they are still learning to be a part of humanity!

Here are some encouraging words:

I knew you could do it! 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

Taking Stock

I know everyone is focused on the holiday season right now, but it really is a wonderful time of year to take stock as to what has gone on in homeschooling…Really look at your child, look at what you have done so far, and look at what is essential to finish up this year.

Child Observation is such a strong key. This is a good article by Stephen Spitalny regarding the polarities of childhood development and starting points for balance:  http://www.waldorflibrary.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=444:springsummer-2002-issue-42-characterizing-the-balancing-polarities&catid=15:gateways&Itemid=10 Continue reading

Relating And Connecting

I absolutely love the book, “Connecting With Young Children:  Educating The Will”, by Master Waldorf Kindergarten teacher Stephen Spitalny.  (If you have not read this book, I really think you should.  Here is the link for it:  http://www.amazon.com/Connecting-With-Young-Children-Educating/dp/1105320820/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351371198&sr=8-1&keywords=connecting+with+young+children+educating+the+will.  It is chock full of wonderful thoughts for the self development of the adult, how to guide small children, and yes, how to work with and shape the will forces of the young child.)

Mr.  Spitalny begins his book with this paragraph:  Continue reading

The Parenting Challenge: Gimme 5!!

 

It can be very easy to slip into a negative pattern of looking at our children’s behavior and to spend our days barking out what needs to happen:

 

“Please put your shoes away!”

“How many times do I have to ask you to take your plate up to the counter when you are done eating?”

“Get ready now!”

“Brush your teeth!”

 

and the list goes on.

More critically, sometimes we also approach our children with the “BUT’s” of life:

 

“Well, you did a pretty good job, but…”

“I was pleased with what happened, but..”

“It was a decent grade, but I know next time…”

 

Sometimes what we don’t say also sounds criticizing to the child and the messages they “hear” are I’m not athletic, I’m not smart, I’m not like my older brother, I’m not cute like the baby, I never do things right.

 

If we want to hold onto our children, and if we know that connection is the first and foremost basis of discipline, then take my Gimme 5 challenge!

 

5 times a day, say these words to your children:

“I like when you……”

“I appreciate when you…”

“You are (smart, funny, caring, loyal, helpful, kind, etc!)

Hug, kiss, pat your child on the back , put your arm around them– 5 times a day!

 

For tiny children under the age of 6, it is not so much about your words but your overall demeanor and attitude:  they don’t always need the words a child ages 6 and above need, but they do need sunny smiles, warm hugs, singing, and you saying short and positive phrases that confirm just how wonderful they are.

 

Because they really are!

Try five a day; it can take the most challenging child and the most challenging discipline season and turn it around.

 

I can’t wait to hear your results!

Blessings,
Carrie

Are You Drowning In Stuff? A Challenge!

This article is a fascinating look at Americans and their things: http://realestate.msn.com/blogs/listedblogpost.aspx?post=e0026a0a-03df-4f70-b1e5-6eaaeec9ec86.   This article is an anthropologist’s look at “stuff”.  In particular was mentioned the accumulation of things that comes with adding more children.  One thing that was amazing to me was one particular child’s room contained 248 dolls!

I actually don’t know anyone in real life that has “stuff” to this amount of excess, to be honest, although I am sure it exists.  It is a sad commentary on American society if this is a normal state of affairs for much of the population. As we become more overweight, more depressed, more anxious – here we are, taking our homes that we are so fortunate to have in comparison to the rest of the world and stuffing them to the brim!

I love the summertime for doing major, deep, significant de-cluttering.  So, I have a challenge for you this week:  set aside a two-week period this summer, and every morning, work on getting rid of your stuff.  No, don’t just organize it! Get rid of it! Continue reading

The Rant Of The Day! Parenting With Boundaries!!

(I think this post has a very uniquely American message, so I apologize if it does not resonate with my international readers as much today.)

Connection between the parent and the child  is a huge help regarding discipline and boundaries because that connection IS the basis of all guiding.  Connection helps us really know our children and helps us get what makes them “them”; what really motivates them.  That is a big help in discipline and guiding and shaping behavior!  It also helps that when we are connected to our children that our children really know us intimately too!  These children have an incredible feeling of being a vital  part of the family, which actually can be a powerful tool:  to be a part of a culture and to have intimately seen and known the rules within that  family culture are vital and important.

However, here is my beef!  If you are a parent and you have structured everything so there is no conflict, your child never hears “no” (and yes, just plain “no”, not a couched “no” with twenty words surrounding the “no”), if you never try to balance your child’s “likes” and “dislikes”  or uplift your child to the next level, are always swooping in to rescue your child, well….. I just think you are wrong.  Plain, dead, worrisome wrong.

Because I worry about children who never hear “no”.

I worry about children whose lives are so perfectly orchestrated that there are never any tears of frustration.  I worry about their future flexibility and resiliency.

I worry about children who count on their parents to buffer them from other adults and other children.

I worry about children who have no boundaries in their own homes – bedtimes, nap times, mealtimes, whose things belong to the parent and can’t be taken and played with, how we treat one another.

I worry about  children who never have to follow through on the consequences of doing something wrong, especially for  those children aged nine and up.  And yes, my friends, sometimes children do things that are just plain wrong. They are learning, just like us.

I worry about children who cannot seem to accept authority from other adults.

I think in America it seems as if the pendulum has tottered from the inherent natural boundaries of the farm, hard work, the rugged individual to lives of relative ease where parents work so hard to provide everything for their children their children have nothing real to cut their teeth on, including boundaries.

Sometimes I do think the larger issue is not that parents don’t necessarily think boundaries are important, but they worry they are being too “authoritarian” and they don’t know HOW to set boundaries.  It seems to me the way we try to set boundaries in our society is to talk our children to death, to treat them as miniature adults with less experience (so therefore if we talk to them more they will “get it”).   Yet, we know there are clear developmental stages for a child, and clear points of neurologic maturation.  We can see this from biologic studies of the brain, we can see this from the work of Rudolf Steiner, we can see this from the Gesell Institute and we can see this from Piaget.

So, the question becomes:  how do we set boundaries in a calm way without treating our children like miniature adults?

Here are a few of my suggestions; take what resonates with you!  Continue reading

Meaningful Work For Adults: A Discipline Challenge

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