More About Holding The Space

We have been having a conversation about this over at Donna Simmons’ forum, and it has raised many important questions about this concept.  Several great threads have popped up about holding the space, please do come join us!

One of the most interesting concerns to me, though, was a question that came up regarding if holding the space was somehow not authentic, and how do children learn about emotion and managing emotion if not from us? I started thinking that the corollary to this is sort of:   If we do all this inner work, then we will be calm all the time, right?

I love this!  To me, “holding the space”  does not mean we have The Valium House and we are deadened to the world.  You are holding the space for your child, the most intimate thing in your life outside of your partner, because you are the adult and you want to help your child. You may very well be angry, but you are stopping to try to hold your reactions in check so you don’t do something you will regret.  You are also doing this so you don’t pass on your baggage and check it into your child’s luggage! So maybe you go outside for a moment and come back if that is safe. Maybe you breathe. Essentially you are trying to take that moment to try not to be sucked into laying down on the floor and having a temper tantrum  yourself next to your two year old.  It is not at all about being a Valium Parent,  it is about being authentic and genuine but also dependable. The child will learn they can push for a boundary against you and you will not crumple to the floor and then the child develops themselves even further.

Holding the space also means you can rise above your own feelings in a way to be constructive. You can show the child how to fix it, how to make things better. You can show your child what to DO with those angry feelings. That is the important thing. When an emotion threatens to topple you into the abyss, how do you regain yourself and how do you make it better? That is the part the child needs to see, and because they live in their bodies, they need to know through movement and action, the doing, not in this reasoning talk that many parenting  books want to use. That comes at later ages!

Children under 7 DO have emotions! Of course!   I like how Kim John Payne describes it in his book “Simplicity Parenting“, how small children have just this pool of undifferentiated emotion and if you do venture to ask them how they feel they generally will say “bad”. They really don’t have that same consciousness to it that we do, but it is okay to describe what you see in the moment.  Sometimes when a child is upset or angry, we want so badly to fix it and sometimes the child just needs to feel it.  A touch, a look, can all be supportive.  Words cannot dam the flood!  Warmth on the level of the soul!  That is healing!

Again though, showing what one can do with these strong emotions  to transform it, to make things better is important.   We often want this sense of utopia for our children – peaceful, no conflict.  I think the best thing though is to show how to transform conflict  into something constructive, without a big speech about it.  Or even just seeing how we cry and move on.  How do you let go of things?  Can you show that?

Life with little ones is in the doing, and with the doing comes the power of transformation and potential for healing.

(Part of this post I originally wrote for a thread on the Waldorf At Home Forum, but it has been somewhat transformed like strong authentic emotions  :))



More About Time-In for Tinies

I cannot stand time out for small children.  You can see some back posts related to that discussion here:    and here:  

I am all for a ‘time-out” for the mother if the mother needs it to pull herself together though, so please don’t misinterpret the fact that I do think both parties need some time to pull themselves together.  However, dragging a  child in the heat of the moment to sit in a chair for one minute for each year of age seems to not accomplish much.  A child is not going to  think like an adult, and sit there and reflect on what has happened and how they can make it better.    (I am also all for objects going into time-out!  “Hmm, I see those scissors chasing your sister’s braids around the room.  I think they need a break!”  :))

Someone recently commented to me though, that “time-in” didn’t seem to work very well either ; trying to hold a kicking and thrashing child who is trying to hit for time-in just doesn’t work well.

You are correct, dear reader, and I hear mothers everywhere sighing relief at this notion.  Thank you for bringing it up because I have more to say!

Some children do not respond well to any sort of “containment” when they are upset.  What this situation sounds like is more of “How does one handle a temper tantrum?”

So here are Carrie’s Rules For Handling Temper Tantrums in all their glory, and please do take what resonates with you. Every child is different and you know your child best! 

1.  You must be calm yourself and  not lay down on the floor next to your child and have a temper tantrum.  Collect yourself and breathe!  Take your own time-out if you need to!   You must be the warm and friendly wall your child can bounce off of, because your child is scared and doesn’t want to be out of control. 

2.  You must not be so, so, so connected toward trying to get the child to stop.  The child is in a flood of emotion, a torrent of emotion, and sometimes all that can happen at first is that the emotions must come out.  And because a three or four year old is tiny (a good age for sitting on laps!), the emotion comes out in this “immature” way of a temper tantrum (although, seriously, isn’t an adult slamming a door or putting their fist down on a table the equivalent of an adult temper tantrum?)   Aletha Solter writes about this torrent of emotion here:  I don’t always agree with everything she says, but I think many of her points are valid. 

3.  Move the child if the child is hurting your property or you or himself.  I like outside on the grass if it is possible to get there.  More on this below.

What can you do if your child is hitting you and kicking you?  You move, of course, but I do know some children that need to be held even through their hitting and kicking and such.  Only you can determine what works best for your child and what brings your child peace at that moment.  My own children never liked being held during a temper tantrum, at least not until some of the torrent of emotion was released.

Outside can be a safer place if you have grass.

4. The best thing often to do is to be nearby but also doing something repetitive, like folding something, etc.    I know that sounds awful, and  I am not suggesting you completely ignore your child, but a little bit of not looking is okay if you know your child can’t hurt himself or herself.  The rationale here is to provide the child some reassurance that Mommy is still here, Mommy loves you, and the rhythm and beauty of life are right here and even though you don’t feel well right now, you will feel better in a minute.  That is what must be in your very gesture and in your very soul, your belief that this will be okay in a moment,  as you are nearby and ready to help. 

Some children do respond well if they are having a giant temper tantrum and all eyes are on them and a parent tries to rub their back, but I have known many who really did just need to crawl under the table and get it out.  No shame in that, but you are not allowed to talk them through it all and intrude on it if they just need to get it out! 

I know this is different than what many mainstream parenting articles say, but I am only telling you what has worked for me and for so many of the families I have worked with and observed.  Telling Johnny in the middle of this torrent of emotion, “You are sad because you wanted a cookie and it’s near dinner time and you can’t have a cookie but maybe you can have a cookie later…”  just doesn’t seem helpful for the moment.  Johnny can’t even hear  you right now as emotion pours out of every pore.

We can be so uncomfortable with our children’s tears or anger, but why?  These are emotions that are every bit as valid as happiness and joy.  They are not our emotions either, we are separate from our child.

4. When things subside a bit, perhaps then you can gently rub a child’s back, hold the child and rock and connect through touch with not so many words.  This is the time-in part – instead of sending your child away for a “time out”, connect with that beautiful and small child and have a time-in.

5.  Some children who have very long temper tantrums and who can’t seem to come out of it themselves well may need to be scooped up and you both go outside.  Sometimes it just seems that change in scenery, soft grass, makes the world a better place.  You stay nearby too!  Some children do need your physical help to come back into themselves, and so only you can experiment with holding your child at what point during the temper tantrum. 

Some children who are at the edge of being done with a temper tantrum but not ready to be held or looked at do well with you telling a story to your dog, to your plant, to your fish (just not directly to your child, LOL).  I used to tell a lot of stories to our giant Leonberger about when she was a puppy and then the child would chime in (eventually) with this or that…

Changing the scene can be important in public as well.  Be prepared to abandon your shopping cart if you are out, or be okay with going out to the car or yard if you are at a friend’s house or whathave you.

6. Once the temper tantrum is over, get your child something to eat!  Their blood sugar will be low.

7.  You  don’t need to go back and verbally re-hash with your child what caused the tantrum, unless there is something the child needs to do to make restitution.  It seems as though many tantrums are over things that are actually small and happen because the child is tired, hungry, thirsty, over-stimulated.  The hunger, thirst, over-stimulation is the NEED that needs to be fixed, the NEED underneath the behavior.  Unfortunately, you cannot fix it in the middle of the torrent of emotion.

8.   If your child is a consistent temper tantrum mess, check out the physical and emotional things going on…. Getting molars?  Getting sick? Getting enough sleep?  Napping enough?  Going too many places?  Parents stressed?  Family life changes?  Are they eating enough?  That is your job to figure out.  Parenting is always a bit of detective work!

Tantrums will eventually calm down, some children seem to have the height of them at ages 3 or 4 (some at age 2)….Like so many other things in parenting, this too shall pass. 

Hope that helps,  please take what resonates with you!


An Emergency How-To: How To Parent Peacefully With Children Under Age 9

(This post is geared toward those times when you are feeling angry daily with your children, not so much for the occasional angry moments.  This is sort of like “Emergency Management for Chronic Anger”…)

If you are having an emergency in attempting  to parent peacefully, here is a top 10 list of how to do this:

1.  Start with understanding your own triggers for anger.  Write down the things that are “making” you angry.  If every item on that list is child-related, please check and double-check if your expectations are realistic.  Underneath anger are usually other feelings such as fear or sadness.

We are all human, and we do get angry.   Here is a great post about the opportunity that occasional episode of  anger affords children in learning:  , just to remind you that the complete elimination of anger is not a realistic goal, and that occasional anger is normal and even healthy.  The important thing is to show your child constructive ways to deal with anger AND how one can transfor oneself from “Angry Person” back into “Normal Person” without hurting anyone physically or verbally in the process!

2.  Get support.  Find your local La Leche League group here: and find your local Attachment Parenting group here:   Call these Leaders on the phone and talk to them.  Both La Leche League and Attachment Parenting put loving guidance/gentle discipline as a main philosophical tenet.  Get a family counselor’s assistance as well.  Many health care professionals will work on a sliding fee scale.

3.  Get support from your family, friends and neighbors.  If you are out of control angry everyday with your children, you may need more support right now.  Even the 10 year old down the street who could come and play for an hour with with toddler while you are there could be helpful.  Investigate all possibilities for help.  Call in your friends and explain that you need extra help right now.

4.  Check out what is going on with you and your family members physically.  Is there a physical reason why you are so tired or depressed?  Is there something going on with your child?

5.  Check your environment – visual clutter can wind many children up.  Clean up their sleeping areas to be restful.

6.  Make a list of what you will do to calm down when you are angry and post it somewhere prominent.  There is no problem that cannot wait a moment to be solved, and on top of that, how many problems can be solved anyway with everyone yelling and crying?  That is not a teachable moment.  It is okay to take a moment before you address the situation.    Remember that your role is to teach and to guide your children toward being capable, loving, responsible adults.

7. Check out your food; dyes and preservatives and common allergens can make behavior worse.

8.  Check out the amount of outside active  play your children are getting!  They need to get some energy out before they can sit still.

9.  Check out what you are requesting of your children; particularly with chores, which seem to particularly anger parents, children under 9 need you there to supervise and assist, to show them how to do itChildren under 7 need to most likely do it with you to have it done to your satisfaction.  Children should be expected to work round the house as part of the family; however, for small children we view the parent working and the child weaving in and out  and then moving into chores that you have helped them to learn over time, and at under 9 they may still need some supervision or they will get distracted by something else along the way.  Check how many times a day you are requesting your children to do something; if it is constant nagging and asking a child to clean up or assist in household chores, that to me is a signal that there 1. Is too many things out in the environment to clean up and/or  2.  is no consistent rhythm to chores on a daily basis or a weekly basis.

Watch what you say to your children!  Use your words like pearls:

Promote kindness in your home:

10.  Learn how to forgive yourself.  See this post for help:

and this one:

Much love and peace to you,


Cultivating “No Comment”: The Inner Work of Advent

Yesterday as we were driving home from our farm pick-up, I was aware of my almost five year old’s running commentary on life.  She was tired, and definitely gets “more chatty” the more tired she becomes.  “Mommy, I want to have a sleepover with Timmy.  Older Sister could come and sleep with Timmy’s older sister and I could sleep in Timmy’s bed.  I wouldn’t be afraid…”   “I am so hungry, I am starving!”  “I am bored!”  “It’s cold outside but I am not wearing my hat! My hat itches!”   Chatter, chatter, chatter, complain, complain, complain.

How often do we feel the need to jump in to a tired, whiny, four or five year old’s world and talk them to death about it?  How often do we jump in and negate her feelings?    I could have said, “You are too young to go have a sleepover away from us.”  “If you had eaten your lunch, you wouldn’t have been so hungry now.” “Your hat is fine, it fits you perfectly!”


What does a tired, hungry, whiny child need?  No comment!  Especially no comment on future plans that are not even in the works with all the reasoning about said future event.  Stop talking!  A smile, some distraction with singing, a reassurance that “we will be home soon” is all that is needed.

A tired, hungry child needs their basic needs for food,rest and connection met.  If they cannot rest at that time (ie, it is dinner time and they need to stay up a bit longer and cannot nap now), how about some soothing repetitive physical activity?  Pouring water, a bath, winding yarn, carding wool are all good choices. 

Donna Simmons of Christopherus takes this approach with little children who are “chatterers” here:

Make it your work this Advent season to have “no comment” unless it is essential.  And this is morphing from children into Grown-Up Land, but please consider making it your work this Advent season to listen more than you talk, and  to gather information before you blurt out a conclusion or advice.  Remember what people want most when they talk to you is often just what a child wants – a warm smile, a hug, a bit of understanding.  Sometimes the journey is long and rough, and ultimately one experienced within that individual’s soul.

Many blessings,


Requests For Stories

Hi All,

I am happy to share resources with everyone as to where to find certain Kindergarten stories!  However, some of these stories are copyrighted and therefore cannot be shared; you would have to buy the book that the story is from.   I am a writer, so I do feel strongly about protecting other people’s works and ideas.

I know many of you have tight resources, and I try to point out any public domain stories that are suitable but some of the Waldorf favorites are still copyrighted. 

Two Kindergarten resources one might like to consider for Autumn, that you would use year after year, includes Suzanne Down’s Autumn Tales (wonderful stories, including Witchamaroo and Little Boy Knight and many others) and Let Us Form A Ring, which has circle times for all seasons in the front and such tales as A Halloween Story (aka, The Naughty Little Hobgoblin!) and The Pancake Mill and Spindlewood in the back.  You could also consider going to Suzanne Down’s website, and signing up for her newsletter – a free story and puppetry idea will come right to your email inbox!

Please ask where to find your stories and I will help the best I can.  With limited resources, another thing to consider is checking out book reviews.  Lovey over at the Lovey-land blog  often has book reviews, and I just wrote some book reviews for the Christopherus website:  If you scroll down on the right hand side you will see a section entitled, “Book Reviews”.



“HELP! My puppy is biting my toddler!”

Today I have the great fortune of having a guest blog writer – my dear friend and expert dog trainer Samantha Fogg!  Thank you so much Samantha for this column and your expertise!  Here is what Samantha writes in response to a very common problem:

“HELP! My puppy is biting my toddler!!!”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten a phone call from a panicked parent who is considering sending their new puppy back to the breeder or to a shelter because the puppy is biting them, their child, and they think that perhaps their pup is aggressive, or bad, or that they can’t handle a puppy in a house with children.  Sometimes the parent has contacted other trainers who haven’t offered any help, but who have said things like “never leave a puppy and a young child together unsupervised” and the parent took this to me that combining puppies and children is dangerous.  Puppies and children CAN co-exist in the same household, but it will take a bit of work and understanding, and yes supervision.  But really, I don’t recommend leaving young children unsupervised, whether or not there is a puppy in the mix.

Puppies bite everything.  Human babies do this too.  Remember when your child stuck everything into his or her mouth?  Puppies are learning about their world, and they are exploring, and everything, including your fingers and your child’s hands, are things your pup wants to learn about so into the mouth they go.  Puppies don’t have hands, so where your human baby patted things, and rolled things in his or her hands, your pup can only use his or her mouth.

It may seem like a cruel joke that puppies are at their most oral at the same time that their teeth are the sharpest, and yes puppy teeth hurt.  Dogs need to have exquisite control over their mouths.  They need to be able to exert the precise amount of control to gently lift and carry fragile items, and also to be able to rip and tear food.  Super sharp puppy teeth guarantee that the pup will get lots of feed back about how much pressure s/he is exerting.  When puppies play with each other they wrestle, and bite, and grab onto each other.  If one puppy bites another puppy too hard, the hurt pup will give a high pitched yelp and go a bit limp.  The biting pup should immediately back off.  If the biting pup persists with biting too hard, the one being bitten will refuse to play with the biter.  Thus puppies learn exactly how hard they can bite each other without hurting, and they gain control of their mouths.

The longer a pup stays with Mom and littermates, the farther along in their bite inhibition training they will be, but even a 12 week old pup won’t have mastered his or her mouth so you’ll need to take over where Mom and the littermates left off.  Some people punish a dog for using his or her mouth, and while in the short term this may solve the problem of sore hands, in the long term, the dog doesn’t learn sufficient bite inhibition.  Hurt dogs defend themselves by biting, and if something terrible happens, say your toddler hurts your dog badly, you want the dog to know that humans are fragile, and to be able to restrain himself and only put his mouth on your child, and not scar your child.  Bite inhibition is critical.  To teach this, you (depending on the age of your children, you likely do not want them to do this)  want to solicit play with your hands.  When the puppy bites you too hard yelp like a hurt puppy and let your hand go limp.  Your pup should immediately back off.  When the pup backs off, start the game again.  If the pup is over-stimulated, or overly tired, the pup may have a bit of a temper tantrum, and may repeatedly bite too hard.  If this happens, your goal should be to calm your pup down, perhaps by giving the pup some time away from people, or using gentle friendly restraint.  When you yelp, a small percentage of puppies will react as though your hand is prey, and will attack more, if this happens, cease playing with the pup and ignore the pup for a couple minutes every single time the pup bites too hard.  As with most things in dog training, repetition is important.  The more frequently you work on this with your puppy the sooner your puppy will learn to control his mouth.

Once your pup is able to play with you gently, it is time to let the puppy know that they can only play with your hands if they are invited to do so.  If the pup isn’t invited to play and grabs at your hands, either yelp like a hurt puppy again, or simply walk away.  In the beginning you’ll want to initiate the game a lot so that your puppy can learn the difference between being invited to play (puppy gets to play), and not being invited to play (puppy doesn’t get to play).  Once your pup understands that teeth can only touch human skin if invited to do so, you can gradually stop asking your puppy to play this game at all.

In addition to teaching your pup about bite inhibition, you want to provide your puppy with plenty of puppy-safe toys to chew.  Stuffed kongs, especially ones that are frozen, are a great toy for pups, but take a look at your local pet supply store, and try things out (see for kongs and stuffing ideas!).  Ideally you should get enough toys so that you can rotate the toys out.  Toys that a dog hasn’t seen in a couple weeks are far more exciting than toys that the dog sees on a daily basis.  Remember — puppies NEED to chew, so if you don’t provide things for the pup to chew on, your pup will find things to chew on, and you won’t like your puppy’s choices.

Depending on the age of your children, you’ll need to involve them in this process to a greater or lesser degree, but unless your child is a baby, your child will need to participate in the bite inhibition training.  Fortunately for many children their initial instinct when nipped by a puppy is to scream in a high pitched voice, and to refuse to play with the puppy.  But you still want to practice.  Start before your puppy arrives (or if you already have a puppy, start with the pup out of the room).  Have your child practice yelping like a hurt puppy.  Make this a fun game.  Also have them practice freezing, and going limp.  Make sure that your child does NOT hit the puppy, or get aggressive toward the puppy.

More important than teaching the child what to do when nipped, you want to set puppy and child up for successful interactions.  A great game to help with this is the Invisible Dog Game. You’ll need lots of dog treats for this.  The rules are as follows:

1. Dog must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet, and the leash must be held by an adult.

2. Dogs who are in a down position are VISIBLE.  Dogs who are doing ANYTHING except lying down, are INVISIBLE.

3. Dogs who are VISIBLE can be patted, talked to, and given treats.  Dogs who are INVISIBLE must be ignored.

4. Don’t talk to the dog or tell the dog what to do.  Just stick to the above rules, your dog will figure it out.

When you first play this game, your pup may have a hard time coming up with the idea to lie down.  That is OK, but you want to make sure that your child stays engaged, so talk to your child about how the dog is invisible and where is the dog, and so forth.  Try to avoid becoming so animated that the dog has fun with this.

As soon as your dog becomes visible (lies down), make a big deal about it.  “Oh, there is the dog!” and immediately give the dog treats.  If the dog leaps back up — and many will in the beginning — the dog is invisible again “where did the dog go?  Wasn’t the dog just here?”  As your dog gets the hang of this, your dog will spend longer, and longer in the down position and you’ll have the opportunity to do things like — “where is the dog’s tail” and as soon as the child touches the dog’s tail, give the dog a cookie, and “how many paws does the dog have?” and give the dog a cookie each time the child touches a paw.  When the dog gets even better the child can sit with the dog, patting the dog and telling the dog stories.

Quit the game before dog and child get tired of the game.

Of course, puppies are learning a lot more than just about how to control their mouths, and puppies, like small children, can have temper tantrums or lose control of themselves.  Puppies who get overly tired, or over -stimulated, may nip more, may fling themselves about, may even air snap.  Puppies benefit from having a rhythm to their days, and to having plenty of nap time.  Puppies tend to be energetic in bursts, and then need to sleep.  Puppies who miss naps are often fussy, and grumpy.  Make sure that your pup is getting plenty of down time.  Puppies who don’t get enough exercise also have trouble controlling themselves.  You don’t want to go on overly long walks, or runs with your pup, but you do want them to have plenty of off-leash play time.

To recap — spend a lot of time teaching your puppy about bite inhibition, give your pup plenty of things to chew, teach your children what to do if the puppy nips them but try to avoid the pup nipping the children as much as you can, play games that teach positive ways for child and pup to interact, have a rhythm to your day that includes both active times and quiet times for the puppy.

Samantha Fogg

work+play positive dog training

Atlanta, GA (The next Babies+Dogs class will start in October!)

Thank you again, Samantha!


Using Our Words Like Pearls

Marsha Johnson has a document within her FILES section of her Yahoo!Group ( to join) entitled something along the lines of “Use Your Words Like Pearls”.  In it she addresses using vocabulary, transitions in the home, many different aspects of the wonderful language we live in and speak every day.

This phrase took on new meaning for me today though.  A thread started over at Melisa Nielsen’s A Little Garden Flower Yahoo!Group ( in response to my post from yesterday entitled, “Raising Peaceful Children.”  One thing that was mentioned is how adults frequently relate to children these days is through sarcasm.

I have said this in other blog posts, and I will say it again:  Children do not need sarcasm at ANY age.  Small children do not understand sarcasm (but they will imitate it, and then parents wonder why their children are speaking to them so disrespectfully!)  Teenagers have enough of it on their own without you adding to it!  Children and adults of all ages truly need you to use your words as the pearls they are!

Many adults joke about the amount of sarcasm they use (“Hey, I had to have my soul removed to make room for all this sarcasm!”) and it also appears to be more prevalent in some parts of the United States than others.  Sorry Northeasterners, I am from the Northeast and I find that up there people are sarcastic without even thinking about it.  It just seems to be how everyone speaks.  It can be challenging to change this engrained and entrenched communication patterns.  However, let’s try!

I have a challenge for you today:

Just for today, let’s think about communicating in real ways with our children, our spouses, our family members and our friends.  Let’s eliminate sarcasm and speak to one another they way we should.  Let’s tell each other directly what we need.  We are all unique individuals and  no matter how well we know one another, we cannot expect others to fully understand our own individuality and read our minds!  Ask for what you need from others!  Make a request!  All that can happen is that person may say no!

Just for today, let’s try to listen more than we speak.  Let’s try to let people come to their own conclusions and ideas rather than force-feeding a solution.  Let’s help children who under the age of 9 come up with solutions to problems with other children through modeling, through example and through help rather than just telling them to “work it out”.

Just for today, let’s try to be compassionate and open to the world and not so jaded.  The world is still a beautiful place, even if you have forgotten that it is so.

Just for today, let’s slow down enough so we have time with our children.  Let’s ask for help so we don’t have to take our children to 4 different stores to run errands.  Schedule time to just be present.  Play a game with your children, and enjoy them!

Just for today, let’s evaluate whether or not the amount of things we are doing inside and outside the home is truly feasible for any one human being and let’s brainstorm ways to stop.

Just for today, let’s limit our time with the screens and go be with our family members. 

Just for today, let’s use our words with each other like pearls and remember that we are all tender and precious human beings.

Love to you all,


Common Toddler Challenges and How to Solve Them

Common Toddler Challenges:

“Into Everything”:


  • Child-proof, child-proof
  • Model how to explore fragile things with your help and put away
  • Keep less things out, access to art supplies, toys, etc should truly be limited

Your Ideas:

Picky Eating:


  • Rule out a physical cause; check food allergies and sensitivities
  • Limit high-fat and high-sugar choices, have many healthy choices
  • Look at your child’s food intake over a week, not just one day
  • Have a schedule/rhythm for mealtime and snack time  and sit down with your child to eat in an unhurried manner
  • Serve smaller portions – your child’s stomach is the size of their fist
  • Serve your child’s favorite foods as a side dish to a main meal
  • Do not feel ambivalent about your child’s ability to eat what you serve
  • Allow an option to have toast or cereal for one night a week
  • Try frozen vegetables, such as peas and corn right from the bag or raw veggies with dip if your child is old enough and this is not a choking hazzard
  • Let the kids have a vegetable garden – children often will eat what they have grown
  • Start calling green veggies “brain food”
  • Sneak veggies and fruits into smoothies, or finely grate or chop and mix into foods the child likes
  • Fill a muffin tray or ice cube tray with different healthy kinds of snackable foods that the child can pick from
  • Model good eating yourself – eat a wide variety of foods!

Your Own Ideas:

Poor Sleeper:

  • Rule out physical problems  – many children had reflux when they were younger and are off of medications by the time they are a year or so, do make sure reflux has not reared its head again.  Check for more details regarding gastro-esophageal disease.
  • Educate yourself regarding normal sleep behavior – segmented sleep throughout the night was the norm until the Industrial Revolution
  • Expect disruptions in sleep around change, stresses, developmental milestones
  • Try a more consistent routine during the day calming and soothing techniques for naptime and bedtime
  • Try lots of daytime sunlight and dim the lights after sundown; put your house to sleep after dinner
  • Limit afternoon over-stimulation, be home and have a consistent routine where things are structured around getting ready toward sleep
  • Look at the foods your child eats
  • Hug, sleep, hold your child – parent them to sleep
  • Co-sleep
  • Remember that many toddlers and preschoolers are poised for an early nap and an early (6:30 to 7:30 PM) bedtime – sometimes we just miss the window!
  • Watch out for TV and other media exposure
  • Many normal, health co-sleeping children do not sleep a 7 to 9 hour stretch until they are 3 or 4 years old.

Nurses all the time:


  • Review normal nursing developmental milestones – 1 and 2 year olds do nurse frequently!
  • Check to see if there are stressors, changes, developmental milestones coming into play
  • Evaluate at what other times your child gets your complete attention
  • Perhaps your child is ready for a more consistent routine, more and varied things to do, more physical activity outside
  • Keep a consistent rhythm to the day and night but varied playthings available
  • Limit your own phone and computer time as this is when many children want to nurse!  LOL!

Your Own Ideas:

Refuses bath:


  • Use bubble bath, toys
  • If she fears soap in her eyes, use swimming goggles or sun visor
  • Try bath in the morning instead of at night
  • Try a shower
  • Get in tub with child
  • If child fearful of drain, can drain tub after child out of tub or after child  leaves room

Bites adult:


  • Do not take it personally, do not over-react
  • Most common between 18 months and 2 and a half years
  • Re-direct behavior
  • It is not okay for your child to hurt you!
  • Do not bite for biting!

Your Own Ideas:

Bites other child:


  • Watch child closely during playtime but realize children of this age do not need many playdates if any at all – limit the exposure and situations you are putting your child in!
  • Give attention to the victim
  • Usually biting stops by age 4

Your Own Ideas:

Slaps faces:


  • Re-direct behavior
  • Do not hit for hitting
  • Model non-aggression

Your Own Ideas:

Demanding, exacting, easily frustrated


  • Review normal developmental milestones and behavior
  • Check how many choices you are giving and how many words you are using and use LESS
  • Try to get in a lot of outside time
  • Go back to the basics of rhythm, sleep, warm foods, nourishing simple stories and singing

Your Own Ideas:

Will not get dressed or put on shoes:


  • Plan ahead and use easy to put on clothing, check for tags, seams
  • Sing a song, look for body parts, dress by a window
  • Dress together
  • Put clothes on when you arrive at destination

Your Own Ideas:

Running Away in Public Places :


  • Limit the number of public places you take child
  • Bring along a second adult to help if possible

Your Own Ideas:

Temper Tantrums:

  • It is OK to feel angry or frustrated; accept the feeling
  • Look for the triggers – hungry, tired, thirsty, hot/cold, over-stimulated
  • Try to avoid situations that set your child up to fail
  • Give YOURSELF a moment to get centered and calm
  • Remove yourself and child from scene if possible (if a public place)
  • Can get down with child and rub back or head if child will allow,  can just be there
  • Once child has calmed down, can nurse, give him a hug, get a snack or drink
  • If child is mainly upset and gets wants you near but you cannot touch child, consider doing something with your hands to keep that peaceful, centered energy in the room!  Hold the space for your child!
  • Do NOT talk – for most children this just escalates things!
  • If child is okay with being picked up, can go outside for a distraction

Your Own Ideas:

Refuses Car Seat


  • Let child have a bag of “car toys” that can be played with as soon as seat belt is buckled
  • Have a contest who can get in the fastest
  • Be a policman, fireman, truck driver

Your Own Ideas:

Roughness with Pets:

  • Model gentle behavior for child with pet
  • Child can help do things for pet (but remember, a child younger than 12 does not have the physical and mental capabilities to fully take care of an animal!)
  • Separate pet and child

Your Own Ideas:

Aggressive Behavior:

  • Try to understand need or trigger beneath the behavior
  • Have a rule such as we hit, we sit – Child must sit by you
  • Help the children involved get  their needs met  by structuring turns, etc.
  • If fighting happens with one friend, you may have to have them stop playing
  • together for a time.
  • If the hitting involves a new baby or young sibling, your first goal is to protect the baby
  • Have a “calm chair” or “calm place” with books, drawing materials where everyone can go together until they are calmed down.
  • Your child may need way less playdates, time outside of the home than you think – be very careful and clear that the places you are bringing your child are truly for them and not for you!  If you need times with other mothers, focus on getting bedtime down so you may be able to go out after your child is asleep and have some adult time!

Your Own Ideas:

Separation Anxiety:

  • Do not force your child to jump into situations he is nervous about – allow him to watch from the sidelines for awhile, and respect his choices.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to take small steps toward independence
  • Do not overprotect your child – do not be the hovercraft
  • Acknowledge and respect your child’s feelings
  • Give your child permission to stay with you – “You can stay here as long as you want to, or you can play and come back for a big hug.”
  • Allow the clingyness to run its course – it may be developmentally normal, or it may come out in a time of stress or change
  • Give your child something of yours to hold on to and keep close
  • Reassure your child by being confident you can walk 10 feet from her and it really is OK – If you say, “Don’t worry, I will be right here if you need me” implies there is something to worry about! Try positive, quiet phrases.
  • Again, I truly feel children in the toddler years are NOT meant to be away from their families and that we as a society really push the classes, lessons, independence of this age – Please do be careful the things you are doing are really for your child and not for you and not because “other people are doing it”!

Your Own Ideas:

Tooth Brushing:


  • Start early
  • Model good dental habits yourself
  • Make it fun – try electric toothbrushes, an egg timer, different kinds of toothpaste
  • Use the dentist as the authority on how many times a day to brush the teeth
  • Talk to the dentist regarding frequency of cleaning, putting sealants on the teeth
  • “Look” for sugar bugs or parts of food from dinner in a playful way, count teeth while brushing

Your Own Ideas:


  • Ames, Louise Bates. Your One-Year-Old.
  • Ames. Louise Bates. Your Two-Year-Old.
  • Budd, Linda. Living With the Active Alert Child.
  • Bumgarner, Norma Jane. Mothering Your Nursing Toddler.
  • Cohen, Lawrence. Playful Parenting.
  • Coloroso, Barbara. Kids are Worth It!
  • Dettwyler, Katherine. “Sleeping Through the Night.”
  • Flower, Hilary. Adventures in Gentle Discipline.
  • Kohn, Alfie. Unconditional Parenting.

As always, take what works for you and your family. Thanks for reading,


Help! My Child Doesn’t Seem to Know Right From Wrong!

I have gotten several questions from local mothers lately regarding their (usually four year old) lying or stealing…..And the mothers are rather frantic about this, and are convinced their children are going to grow up to be juvenile delinquents.

First of all, let’s take a brief peek back at the four-year-old, (because it usually is a four-year old):

Secondly, let’s veer to what Steiner says for a moment.  In his lectures in the book, “Soul Economy”, he is very specific and clear that the child can only start to distinguish between right and wrong starting somewhere around five years of age.  Traditional childhood development resources such as The Gesell Institute states that a child will “blame” every one else for what happens when they do something “wrong” – ie, “You made me do that!”  In the Gesell Institute book “Your Seven-Year-Old” remarks, “Seven is definitely concerned about the wrongness of lying and cheating, especially in others.  He is somewhat less likely to blame others for his misdeeds than earlier, but is quick to tatttle about any breach of the ethical code on the part of his parents and friends.  If he himself missteps, he is very ready with an alibi:  “I didn’t mean to,”  “I forgot,”  “I was just going to do it,”  “That’s what I meant.”  So what are you asking of your four-year-old?

From  a Waldorf perspective we believe that the child under the age of 7 doesn’t have that individual consciousness yet, that a young child is in an imitative phase and that a young child is also in a phase of being physically in their bodies.  In an example to illustrate this, Steiner spoke in one of his lectures about distraught parents who came to him because their under seven child was “stealing” money from a place where they normally stored it in the house.  Steiner pointed out that the child had seen the mother take money from this place to pay for things, and that the child was simply imitating the mother.  The Gesell Institute points out that even a seven-year-old is likely to pick up and play with whatever catches their eye – yes, a seven-year-old!

So here we go back to the question I pose nearly every post:  Are you expecting your four-year-old to act like a ten-year-old?  You cannot parent an under 7 child with verbal directives from a chair.  Do not “ask” your four-year-old to do something, leave the room, come back and ask”, “Why didn’t you do why I asked?”  They are going to say, “I did!”  This is NORMAL from a developmental perspective.

The other issue is to know and understand when to make a BIG deal over things and when not to – yes, we need to guide behavior.  But, we probably need to guide less of this then you think, at least in words.   We tend as parents to be oh-so-serious about these issues in the three, four year –old.  If you “Head Talk” to your under six child about lying, stealing, etc it will not make much of an impact at all because of the above things we mentioned developmentally – if you are physically there to help your child follow through with what you ask, if you do not draw so much individual consciousness to them at such an early age, if you remember normal childhood development, then your physical presence will hold the space and decrease these behaviors.

Your child is learning how to be a moral person in their early childhood and needs your strong, and warm physical presence in the Early Years.  In Waldorf, we would work with this through less words, and more doing.   More physical presence, more being there with the child, more being present.  And knowing what to make a big deal of and knowing when to clean up the mess with the child and  not talk it to death!  

Please re-think your overly verbal and head-oriented approach to the child in the younger years as they develop their ethics and sense of morality.  Reassure your child they are loved no matter what behavior that they try on, but SHOW them that you are the adult in this situation, you have the control, and you can help them by being there.

In Peace,