Working Through The Body: Day Number 17 of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

So, we have discussed over and over how important it is to approach a child through his or her BODY.  This is vitally important as we deal with children who are pushing against the forms of the day – the “I won’t”s, “I can’t”s, “No”’s and “Make me”s (and yes, I have a child that typically falls into the last category, the “Yes, make me!”).  We can approach it like a sledgehammer trying to blast through a piece of concrete or we can take our twenty, thirty or forty years of living and try a more imaginative, sideways approach!

If you would like some background regarding an anthroposophic approach to the first two and a half years of working with the body, please see this post:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/01/10/getting-children-into-their-bodies-part-one-birth-to-age-2-and-a-half/

If you need some guidelines regarding when children traditionally can do what from a gross motor perspective, please go back a few days in this series and look for the day on “Realistic Expectations”.

Working through the body most effectively combines gross motor movement with fantasy or imaginative elements.  Moms ask how to do this all the time and all I can tell you is that is takes practice and experience.  Set yourself a goal to try to address your child this way twice a day if you are new to this.

Here are a few examples to whet your appetite and stimulate your own thoughts of how to approach things:

Running in the house:  “Excuse me, Mr. Race Car Driver, this is only the warm-up lane, not the racetrack!  We go slow in this lane!” (and the corollary is the racetrack is outside, :))

Not wanting to brush teeth:  “But Ms. Crocodile, you must open your mouth so I can count all your beautiful teeth!  Have you been eating bananas again?!  Let me see!”  (and you open your mouth so they can imitate you!)

Children with extreme cases of “the wiggles”:  Turn it into a game where they are flamingos standing on one foot, humped camels, mice with tiny footsteps, wiggling worms on the floor.

Trying to get calm for bed:  Be a  caterpillar wrapped up in a cocoon of silk that must be rocked before it can come out as a butterfly.

Those are just a few ideas to get you going, submit your situation in the comment box and maybe all the wise mothers out there can also provide some ideas for you!

I think the other “arm” of this being in the body goes back to the twelve senses and what we are working on developing in the Early Years – those Lower Foundational Senses.  Remember those?  Here they are again in case you forgot (and remember those Middle Senses we are still trying to protect!)

The Lower Senses are seen in our will forces, they are unconscious, and they manifest in the metabolic-limbic system.  These include:

The Sense of Touch – through the organ of the skin.  This includes what is inside of me and what is outside of me.  Important ways to boost this foundational sense include vaginal birth, swaddling, holding, positive tactile experiences (NOT PASSIVE experiences, like through media or Baby Einstein! Active experiences!)  The lack of completion of this  sense is strongly related to ADHD according to Daena Ross.

The Sense of Life or sometimes called The Sense of Well-Being – this encompasses such things as if you can tell if you are tired, thirsty, hungry.  The best way to boost this sense is to provide your children with a rhythm to help support this while it is developing.  Some children have great difficulty recognizing their own hunger or thirst cues,  or their own need for rest or sleep. A rhythm can be a great therapeutic help in this regard.

The Sense of Self-Movement – this is probably more familiar to therapists in some ways as the “proprioceptive system” in some ways.  This sense encompasses the ability to move and hold back movement, and can also encompass such sensory experiences as containment (which can be a form of massage for premature babies) and also swaddling.  Childhood games that involve starting and stopping can also affect this sense.

The Sense of Balance – This is balance in two separate realms, from what I gather from the Daena Ross presentation.  It is not only the ability to balance by use of the semicircular canals of the ears  for midline balance so one can cross midline but also refers to the  balance of life and being able to be centered, which again goes back to rhythm and the idea of in-breath and out-breath.  Donna Simmons calls this one a gateway to The Middle Senses.

So ask yourself if the activities you are coming up with involve these senses in an appropriate way.  One resource that may assist with this is Donna Simmons’ “Joyful Movement” book.  It really is a good resource for common activities, verses, songs and movement to help you put all of this together.  Here is the link: 

So, for small children the Sense of Touch would include textures and natural fibers in the home and on the child, working with soil, sand, mud, sticks, and other sensory experiences for touch.  The Sense of Life is really YOUR job for the child – get a rhythm going!  It is important!  The Sense of Self-Movement would include all those singing rhymes and games,  gentle bouncing games, and experiences with practical life activities such as stirring, kneading, movement games, fine motor skills.  The Sense of Balance is not only working toward more complex practical projects for the six-year-old, both gross and fine motor wise, but also working with the notion of BALANCE in your child.  It is YOUR job to help your child balance.  If your child wants to sit around and read all day and page through books, it is your job to structure the rhythm so this is not possible and that your child has increased opportunities for fun movement, being outside, learning to ride a bike, etc.  If your child is active, active, go, go, go, it is YOUR job to set the rhythm so there are times for a candle lighting and a soft puppet show, times to sit and snuggle and hear a wonderful fairy tale, times to be calm and centered.  This is what parenting is all about.

Love to all,

Carrie

Guiding A Child: Day Number 16 Of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Parent

My cute little one is sound asleep, so I have a few minutes to meditate with you all on the focus of the day today:  how to guide a child.

In Waldorf parenting and education, we see a small child under the age of 7 as being in their BODIES.  We do not “ask” them to do tasks and expect them to follow through.  We enter daily work through rhythm, through music and verses and singing, through doing things together and through fantasy and the imagination.  If we have to use words, we may use “You may’ as a stock phrase along with physically helping the child at the same time.  There is ALWAYS an active component; for those of you planning to go on and homeschool in the grades with Waldorf education  there is also always an active part of a main lesson.  As homeschool teachers, we are always asking ourselves, “Where is the active part of this lesson?”  You are laying the foundation for this time in these Early Years.

So, you have an assignment for tomorrow. Grab a small notebook and pen and WRITE DOWN, without judging yourself!, what you ask your small child to do.  Commands, requests….And how many times do you ask your child the same thing before it happens? How many times a day are you requesting things verbally?

At the end of the day, sit down with your list and see if you can brainstorm ways to approach these situations through the body, the fantasy, the physical.  See if you can promote change within yourself.

Day Number 17 will focus on ways to work with getting a child within their body, so look forward to that as a follow-up to this assignment!

Off to nurse now,  peacefully yours,

Carrie

Protection of the Senses: Day Number 15 of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

According to Waldorf Education and parenting, the twelve senses are what unites the inner and outer world of the individual and what allows us healthy interaction with other people at the highest developed levels.  It takes a long time for these senses to be developed, but the foundational senses needed to develop some of the upper senses are most enveloped within the first seven years. 

For those of you who are new to this blog, here is a brief recap of the twelve senses: (and for those of you wondering the Daena Ross presentation I am referring to can be found here at this link: http://www.waldorfinthehome.org/2005/04/the_twelve_senses.html#more).

The Lower Senses are seen in our will forces, they are unconscious, and they manifest in the metabolic-limbic system.  These include:

The Sense of Touch – through the organ of the skin.  This includes what is inside of me and what is outside of me.  Important ways to boost this foundational sense include vaginal birth, swaddling, holding, positive tactile experiences (NOT PASSIVE experiences, like through media or Baby Einstein! Active experiences!)  The lack of completion of this  sense is strongly related to ADHD according to Daena Ross.

The Sense of Life or sometimes called The Sense of Well-Being – this encompasses such things as if you can tell if you are tired, thirsty, hungry.  The best way to boost this sense is to provide your children with a rhythm to help support this while it is developing.  Some children have great difficulty recognizing their own hunger or thirst cues,  or their own need for rest or sleep. A rhythm can be a great therapeutic help in this regard.

The Sense of Self-Movement – this is probably more familiar to therapists in some ways as the “proprioceptive system” in some ways.  This sense encompasses the ability to move and hold back movement, and can also encompass such sensory experiences as containment (which can be a form of massage for premature babies) and also swaddling.  Childhood games that involve starting and stopping can also affect this sense.

The Sense of Balance – This is balance in two separate realms, from what I gather from the Daena Ross presentation.  It is not only the ability to balance by use of the semicircular canals of the ears  for midline balance so one can cross midline but also refers to the  balance of life and being able to be centered, which again goes back to rhythm and the idea of in-breath and out-breath.  Donna Simmons calls this one a gateway to The Middle Senses.

I wrote an article about these lower senses for the Waldorf Baby that may be interesting reading for some of you here:  http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/early-years-nurturing-young-children-at-home/the-waldorf-baby/not-too-hot-not-too-cold.html

The Middle Senses are seen in our feeling lives, involve us reaching out into the world a bit, they are seen as “dreamy” senses and manifesting in the rhythmic system.  THE CHILD HAS NO FILTER TO FILTER THESE SENSORY EXPERIENCES OUT IN THE EARLY YEARS.   In the later years, the arts build these senses, which is why the Waldorf curriculum includes teaching through art in the grades.   These senses  include:

The Sense of Smell -  strongly correlated with memory.  This can be an ally in education of the grades age child, but beware of scented everything when your children are in the foundational first seven years.

The Sense of Taste – Not only on a physical plane, but an emotional plane in naming experiences (a “putrid” experience, a “sweet” experience)

The Sense of Sight  – with two different ways to visualize something:  one is the ability to distinguish color, and the other is the ability to distinguish form (which Daena Ross says is more related to The Sense of Self-Movement).  The best way to help this sense is to protect the eye from media while developing.  A way to bolster this sense in the grades, but not the Early under 7 Years, is through form drawing.

The Sense of Warmth -   Donna Simmons calls this one a gateway to The Higher Senses.  This sense does not fully develop until age 9 and can literally cause a hardening of creativity and new thought as the child matures, but also can refer to a literal inability of the child to be able to tell if they are hot or cold.  Warmth implies not only physical warmth, but warmth on a soul level.  Joy, humor, love, connection are all important developers of this sense along with PROTECTION from extreme and garish sensory experiences that would cause hardening.  This is a very important sense, and children need help with protecting this sense until the age of 9 or 10, so much longer than many parents think!

The Upper or Higher Senses develop during adolescence and require a strong foundation of The Lower Senses and The Middle Senses to come to maturity.  These senses are associated with awakening of the individual, with being concerned with other people and are seen as being centered in The Head.  These senses include:

The Sense of Hearing (which Daena Ross calls “a bridge between The Middle and Higher Senses” in her presentation)  This requires completion of The Sense of Balance – both of these senses involve the organ of the ear.

The Sense of Speech or The Sense of the Word (this is the speech of another person, not yourself) – Requires completion of The Sense of Self-Movement as you must be able to quiet your own speech in order to really hear another person.

The Sense of Thought or The Sense of Concept (again, of the other person, not your own thoughts!) - Requires completion of  The Sense of Well-Being.  Rhythm builds this ability to quiet oneself in order to hear someone else’s thoughts.

The Sense of  the Individuality of the Other (Donna Simmons also calls this the “I-Thou” relationship of boundaries) – This requires integration and completion of all senses, but particularly involves The Sense of Touch according to Daena Ross.

In our work as parents of small children, we should be seeking to protect the lower senses and enhance them.  The way we do this through the Early Years is through PROTECTION, through repetition, warmth, rhythm, less stimulation and talking, keeping children in their bodies.  Unfortunately, anthroposophists and Waldorf educators seem to be the only group right now who really understand this importance.   Here is an interesting video clip regarding how a trip to the grocery store can be over-stimulating to the senses for an infant, and some interesting physiological facts about an infant’s senses:  http://www.hulu.com/watch/6093/wild-baby-senses#x-4,vclip,1

In the meantime, society keeps pushing adult schedules and stimulation on small children and  the rates of sensory disorders and autism spectrum are skyrocketing.  

The opportunity to protect our children’s senses in the phase where the child is noted as one giant sensory organ taking in all sensory experiences really doesn’t last too long.  Take advantage of this special time!

Much love,

Carrie

Humor: Day Number 14 of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

Humor is such an important tool in mothering and in generating positive outcomes in behavior that it had to have its own separate day!  I think this is one place where many mothers, including myself, can fall short if we are not truly careful in cultivating this.

Is everything in parenting really that serious?  So many times I think we see a behavior in a small child and feel we must somehow change it because otherwise our teenager will have this behavior.  So many times I think the expectations we have for our children are so high for their age that it leads to joyless and humorless interaction with our children.

Using humor does not mean we never set clear boundaries.  However, it does mean that we use warmth and love to set boundaries.  We can say no gently, and stick to our “no” even through the persistence of a child.  Boundaries are okay. Humor and playfulness does mean that we can step back and laugh at our own mistakes, the mistakes our children make, to see the humor and joy in  a situation and have some fun!  This is NEVER done in a teasing or hurtful manner, but in a way where everyone can join in on the fun!

How often do you laugh?  Sometimes my husband rents me funny things to watch from NetFlix at night after the kids go to sleep just so I can laugh!  I have one friend with whom when we get together we laugh a lot and she uses humor so well with her children.  It always inspires me to cultivate more humor and playfulness into my parenting.  Parenting can be VERY funny, and if we can look at it this way it can make many burdens light!

I am sure many of you have heard of the book “Playful Parenting” by Lawrence Cohen.  It is not a Waldorf book by any means, but reading it may open your eyes to the connection that humor, joy and playfulness can have in your parenting adventure.

Much of Waldorf parenting centers around the mother doing work with her hands, and the child weaving in and out of the work of the day. However, there is nothing wrong with setting up play scenarios, with helping a child “stuck” with his play (Waldorf Kindergarten teachers do this all the time!) and there is certainly nothing wrong with the use of humor and playfulness to engage the cooperation and fantasy of a small child in your daily rhythm.

Enjoy your lightening up!

Carrie

Day Number 13 of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

One thing that many Waldorf teachers do at night  is to meditate on the children in  their class.  I think this practice is absolutely vital as a Waldorf  homeschooling parent. 

In the discussion write-up following Dr. Helmut von Kugelgen’s article “How Can We Find A Connection to The World of the Angels?” in the blue paperback book, “A Deeper Understanding of the Waldorf Kindergarten,” the question arises:

Q:  What about thinking about children before we go to sleep?

A:  “Freya Jaffke spoke to this question and said each person must find their own way with this.  The picturing of children should not take too long, though one can then spend more time on a difficult child.  For example, one can review a problematic moment with the child, make it “present” within one, picturing the “gesture” of the moment.  How did the moment arise?  What led up to it?  What happened during the moment and what came afterwards?  Also find a good moment that happened with the child.  Make this picture “big” before your mind’s eye.  Thus two objective pictures stand before you without any wishes.  Then you can feel a real connection to the child.  You may do this picturing several nights in a row.  Maybe one picture will increase or decrease; or both may merge into equal strength.  Then daily work will grow easier, for you are not fighting the  one aspect.  But be careful not to neglect the “good” children. Look at all of the children, and occasionally dwell on one or two who do not have difficulties.”  (page 59-60).

How much easier this is for us as homeschooling parents – we have less numbers to meditate on!  And in some ways, how much more difficult this is, as we are more emotionally involved and connected and attached and feel more deeply about our children’s behavior of the day than a teacher most likely would.

I personally have a practice of praying for my children every night before bed; I also meditate on them and see what I receive – those flashes of pictures as it forms.  I also think about those more difficult situations that occurred during the day, and think about what I need to work on, and also what my children need to practice for living.  I frame this in positive terms.  For example, if my child is having a difficult time, I might think about what needs to INCREASE in my child in order for the situation to be better.  Sometimes I look for virtues off this list:  http://www.virtuesproject.com/virtues.html  and think how I can bring a particular virtue to my child in a sideways manner.  Is there a pedagogical story I can tell?  Can I work through rhythm, through other experiences?

I also use other things; I am a big fan of flower essences and homeopathic remedies to help balance things out.  I look at warmth and how I am transmitting emotional warmth to my children. I look at what I am modeling myself.

These meditative techniques are a wonderful and necessary addition for peaceful homeschooling and peaceful parenting in general.  Give them a try, and I don’t think you will be disappointed!

Peace,

Carrie

WARMTH: Day Number 12 of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

Can you all believe we up to Day Number 12?  I can’t believe it either!  Thank you so much to all of my readers for keeping up with this series.    This blog had almost 19,000 hits last month, so I know there are many of you out there reading along and I want you to know I treasure you all.

Today we are going to talk about warmth.  Warmth is a quality often mentioned in Waldorf and anthroposophic circles, and seems to get little attention outside of these realms.  This is a shame, because of the importance warmth has in the development of a child’s senses. 

I wrote this in a post regarding the twelve senses as seen by Rudolf Steiner:

The Sense of Warmth -   Donna Simmons calls this one a gateway to The Higher Senses.  This sense does not fully develop until age 9 and can literally cause a hardening of creativity and new thought as the child matures, but also can refer to a literal inability of the child to be able to tell if they are hot or cold.  Warmth implies not only physical warmth, but warmth on a soul level.  Joy, humor, love, connection are all important developers of this sense along with PROTECTION from extreme and garish sensory experiences that would cause hardening.  This is a very important sense, and children need help with protecting this sense until the age of 9 or 10, so much longer than many parents think!”

I think this notion of warmth really feeds off our last post regarding the home; it is one of those qualities most needed in the  home and in the development of the child.

So, we can look at  two separate ways of generating “warmth”.  One is to think about physical warmth.  I recently wrote an entire post about mainly physical  warmth here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/27/what-happens-if-i-dont-keep-my-child-warm/

It is very important to keep children warm as  their own sense of temperature equilibrium really does not become well-established until after age nine!  So yes, this means woolens and silks and hats and layers! 

But I think the other thing to think about sincerely is how to convey EMOTIONAL warmth to our children.  How many times a day do we laugh with our children?  Hug our children or have them sit on our lap?  Smile at our children?  Say positive and encouraging things to our children?

So, my three-day challenge to you is this:

Set a goal for how many times a day you are going to try to laugh, hug, hold, smile and say positive things to your child and act on it!   This may seem very stilted and forced, but sometimes we all need that structure in order to make a behavior more automatic.   See after three days if there is a difference in not only you and your children, but in the peacefulness of your household.  Can you also  do this with your spouse?  How many encouraging things do you say to him each day?  How many times do you walk by him and touch his hand or touch him on the back or give him a kiss? 

Try it for three short days, Monday through Wednesday this week,  and let me know how it goes!

Many blessings,

Carrie

Day Number Eleven of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

This is a topic near and dear to my heart: making your home work for you.  This whole notion of “What makes a home a home?” is profoundly interesting to me!

This probably has more to do with the “intangibles”:  the way a home feels when you walk into it.  Is there warmth, joy, laughter, playfulness – or is it all tense, anger, bitterness, misery? 

Your own inner work is of utmost importance in maintaining your home as a place of joy, humor and warmth.  How YOU feel cared for is an important part.  There was a post earlier in this series regarding how to make yourself a priority; I believe this is important to continue to try to find ways to honor yourself and the wonderful parent that you are.  Quiet confidence gives a great strength and stability to the home.

So, when we think of “home” and cleaning up, let’s clean up ourselves first.  Discern the essentials for your family!  Do you have a Family Mission Statement?  Here is that post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/08/creating-a-family-mission-statement/

Here is our Family Mission Statement:

Our family will be a place of KINDNESS, as we love one another, help one another, and are gentle and patient with one another in words and actions.

(“Don’t ever forget kindness and truth. Wear them like a necklace. Write them on your heart as if on a tablet.” Proverbs 3:3 and “Someone with a quick temper does foolish things, but someone with understanding remains calm.” Proverbs 14:17).

Our family will be a place of POSITIVE ATTITUDES as we have hope, cheerfulness and encouragement for each other in all situations and challenges.

(“Worry is a heavy load, but a kind word cheers you up.” Proverbs 12:25 and “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, making people happy and healthy.” Proverbs 16:24)

Our family will be one of INTEGRITY as we do what we say we are going to do and act in honesty and loyalty to one another.

(“The good people who live honest lives will be a blessing to their children.” Proverbs 20:7)

You can write something in accordance with your own spiritual beliefs!  Let your Family Mission Statement reflect the utmost priorities of your family!

Let’s think about “de-cluttering” in how we take care of OURSELVES; can we discern the essentials and leave the non-essentials behind?  Have we been ignoring the essentials in regards to ourselves?    Are you going to bed and getting enough rest?  Are you eating well?  Keeping up with your own doctor’s appointments?  Are you exercising at all (and no, walking at the pace of a two-year-old who stops every foot to examine things on the ground probably does not qualify to increase your own cardiovascular health!)  How could you work these things into your rhythm?  Could your spouse or partner help make this happen?

Now we are onto the physical beauty that is our home!  I think the issue is that as homeschooling mothers we are in our home ALL DAY, so the physical way our home looks and feels can really affect us! 

We have looked in the past on this blog at de-cluttering your home and also how to homeschool and have a clean house.  Those posts are here:

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/11/housecleaning-and-homeschooling/

http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/12/is-your-home-a-sanctuary/

I also encourage all of you to not only come up with a rhythm for your de-cluttering and your cleaning, but for chores for your children.  In a homeschooling family, all the housecleaning cannot be just on the mother.  It takes a team!  That being said, many children need you to do chores WITH them until the nine-year-change at least.  We are doing things TOGETHER and you are singing and having FUN!  That is what makes a home a home; the beauty of caring for one another!

But most of all, remember a home is built of those soul qualities.  One book that may be of use to you all is “The Spiritual Tasks of the Homemaker”.  For a study of this book, please see AnthroMama’s blog here: http://anthromama.wordpress.com/spiritual-tasks-of-the-homemaker-study/

Many blessings,

Carrie

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The Seven and Eight Year Old: Realistic Expectations: Last Installment of Day Number 10 of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

This is the third and final installment of “Day Number 10” of our series “20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother”.  I just wanted to briefly cover the seven and eight year olds.  These are ages that are often seen as “older” in our society, and I am here to tell you these ages still need protection and also require appropriate developmental expectations.

Here is a prior post to ponder:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/08/the-seven-and-eight-year-old-still-a-need-for-protection/

Realistic Expectations for the Seven-Year-Old:

  • EXPECT a seven-year-old still needs PROTECTION of their senses and of how much they are doing in any one day.  A seven-year-old wants to do everything and anything, but as the Gesell Institute points out, a hallmark of the seven-year-old is fatigue.  They need you to establish good bedtimes (7:30 is not too early for a busy seven-year-old!) and they need you to help them limit their activities.
  • EXPECT physical movement to still  be REALLY important, and I am not talking about organized sports.  I am talking about PLAYING and being outside in nature where they create the games themselves.  Seven-year-olds should still be playing!  The Gesell Institute mentions that adult supervision is still important when they play because sevens become excited and wild which can often end in “destruction of  material or personal altercation.”  Also, be aware many seven-year-olds are not too compassionate of those they deem “different” and while they thrive on group praise per Gesell Institute, most sevens also do not seem to “need” friends the way they did when they were six.
  • EXPECT a seven-year-olds to be more contained and quiet than at six, but also expect that they tend to cry easily “at any, every, or even no provocation.”  Be careful becoming irritable or critical of the people a seven-year-old says is picking on them or hates them….Sevens rather like being gloomy and complaining.  Try not to take it too seriously, unless you really do think it is a bullying issue at school or something else more serious.  However, not taking it too seriously does not mean you do not treat the complaints that no one likes me, etc, etc as if they are real.  The feelings are real to your child!  So, don’t get dragged too far into it all, but also acknowledge how your child feels.
  • EXPECT a seven-year-old to  think about death, dying, killing, violence.  This is why the archetypal fairy tales found in the Waldorf curriculum are wonderful for this age.  Take all the wild talk calmly!  You can sometimes say something to the effect that children think these things, but add in that, “Of course we wouldn’t do that here in our house.”
  • EXPECT the fear stages that go with many seven-year-olds.  A seven-year-old is likely to be fearful of many things; again, these feelings are real to the child so you can be sympathetic and compassionate without being completely dragged into it all.  Don’t YOU be frightened of your child’s fears; that provides the child no sense of security at all!
  • EXPECT that a seven-year-old still will most likely touch, manipulate and play with anything that catches their eye.
  • EXPECT most sevens to be procrastinators, have short memory spans per Gesell (which makes perfect sense to we Waldorf people that memory is forming and being placed into play as something important now); and expect that they have a tendency to get very distracted easily.  Sevens also try to be perfect and need reminding that no one is perfect or should be perfect.
  • EXPECT your seven-year-old to argue with you in a sense, asking “Why?”  “Why?” over and over, more almost as a stalling technique for whatever you asked them to do.  Do NOT overtalk to them!  If you need help, see my post entitled, “Stop Talking!  (”http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/14/stop-talking/)  But do make sure your child has heard you- sometimes they really don’t hear you!

 

Realistic Expectations for the Eight-Year-Old:

  • EXPECT your eight-year-old to be expansive, outgoing, high energy, speedy! He or she may completely overestimate his or her own abilities.
  • EXPECT your eight-year-old to be hard on themselves for mistakes (May say, “I never get anything right!”  “I always do things wrong!”) – At age 7, the child measures himself against his own demands, but at 8, he measures himself against what he perceives the adult demands are.
  • EXPECT your eight-year-old to love to talk!  May also boast quite a bit (remember back to age 4, there are similarities!)
  • EXPECT fairness to be a big issue.  The eight-year-old may dramatize sibling fights, love to argue and pick up on mistakes.
  • EXPECT your eight-year-old to be more interested in religious or spiritual aspects of life, even if there is no specific religious or spiritual leanings in your household.
  • EXPECT your eight-year-old to start thinking in terms of right and wrong, not just good and bad.    This is where the curriculum for Waldorf Second Grade is so wonderful and fits in so beautifully.
  • EXPECT your eight-year-old to blame others for consequences his own actions have produced
  • EXPECT to still have to do chores and such WITH your eight-year-old as opposed to just asking them to do something.
  • EXPECT your eight-year-old to be clinging to Mother, demanding of Mother, doesn’t like to let Mother out of sight.
  • EXPECT questions regarding sexuality, intercourse, and menstruation from eight-year-old girls.
  •  

    On to Day Number Eleven!

    Carrie

    More Realistic Expectations: Day Number Ten of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

    AGE FIVE:  Often referred to as a “Golden Age” in development with five-and-a-half being a time of disequilibrium according to traditional childhood development texts.

    Five is the average age to be able to:

    • Carry an open container without spilling
    • Go to the toilet by themselves with no accidents
    • Use a towel to dry themselves after a bath
    • May be able to wash their own hair
    • Able to get dressed with reminders
    • May know left and right
    • Can cut out pictures following outlines
    • Will recognize missing or incongruous elements in pictures
    • Can walk down stairs carrying an object (no railing)
    • Can complete one sit-up and one push-up
    • Can adjust behavior to fit rules and routines of different situations
    • Can sacrifice immediate desires for a delayed reward
    • Act in accordance to social rules
    • Typically can control temper fairly well
    • Can play and work without disrupting others
    • Will comfort those in distress
    • Can cooperative in simple group games
    • Will protect other children and animals
    • Will offer to help
    • Will say “excuse me” when interrupting
    • Can wait to be acknowledged before speaking
    • Can answer telephone and carry on conversation
    • Can wait until designated time to leave table
    • Attends to task without supervision for 15 minutes
    • Can sing whole songs

    AGE SIX:  Here are some pointers for age six:

  • Six-year-olds are DOERS.  They are not deep thinkers.  They do not need a lot of words.  With something you need done, it helps to walk them physically through what you need with movement and imagination.  Get the child moving before you speak, writes Nancy Blanning, a well-known Waldorf teacher.
  • Remember, a six-year-old can also have direct words to help them – but very short, to the point and POSITIVE.   Again, think of these “rules” as skills they are learning, not just something they must do or if they don’t do it they will fail and need to be punished.  Change your framework.
  • A six-year-old may be picky about what they asked to do, not wanting an activity that is “for babies”.  Think about what you are asking your child to do before you ask them and how your child might respond.
  • Go back to your rhythm. Six-year-olds need a strong rhythm.  They need to know the home for things, that every thing does have a place, so they can put things away for themselves.
  • Do not offer choices if there is really no choice. If it is time to leave or go to the bathroom, it is time to leave or go to the bathroom.  Maybe the choice is they can hold your hand to leave or hop like a bunny to leave, but it is still time to leave. 
  • Use stories to help your child do things, and help your child physically along as you tell that story.
  • Nancy Blanning also writes that from a Waldorf perspective, “Each adult responsibility you take care of for your child allows his or her energy to be available for growing.  We do a child a great service by pre-thinking and pre-planning how things will happen – by creating a “form”- which will support both the child and ourselves, so there is order and predictability.”   My personal  note to this is:  This does not in any way mean the child shouldn’t have to do things for themselves or help the family or help around the house, but it does mean that you, as the parent, have thought through how, when and where the child will take over their own routine or chore or whatever they are being asked to do, and that you have shown them step-by-step how it needs to happen.
  • Pick your battles.  The minute you engage in a struggle with your child, your battle is lost.  Help your child, and come up with ways both of you can win if it is possible.  Use matter-of –fact phrases and say what you need, and wait.
  • Think about warmth; how can you show your child warmth?  This is important when you are in one of those stages where you just are not liking your child’s behavior most of the time.  Try and find something you can say that they did that you actually did like, no matter how small.  Find time for smiles, hugs, kisses, being present to play a game, walks in an unhurried manner and just be there.  It will pay off in your relationship with your child!
  • Give as few direct commands as possible; this goes back to picking your battles and letting your rhythm and order carry things.  Think to yourself, if I ask them this, and they say, “NO!” do I have the time, the energy, the patience, to see this through at this moment and do I want to pick this as my focus today?  If it is very important to guiding your child’s life and future development as an adult, then by all means, go ahead. 
  • A six-year-old will take things that are not theirs and will often not tell the whole truth.  Help them. Ask them how something happened, not if they did that.  Put away those things that are tempting to them to take.  Remember that a six-year-old is restless, can be destructive, often can be at the height of sexual play and may need a bit more oversight than they did before if they are like that.  This is a developmental phase that will not last forever, and as a parent, it is still your job to keep your child safe and your property safe as well!
  • You may consider limiting time with friends, playdates and certainly the size and activities of a birthday party.  Six-year-olds are aggressive with friends, belligerent, go wild quickly and have strong emotions that often ends up with the child in tears.  Keep things easy, small and short.
  • Do not carry around baggage about your child saying “I hate you!” at this age or acting as if you are the most unfair mother in the whole world.  A six-year-old will do this, a six-year-old will take out things on their Mother, and it is not up to them to fill your cup.  Do things outside of your child to fill your own cup.  Be fair, be calm, hold the space and try to think compassionately even when they are not being nice.  You are the adult.
  • Do not get into verbal games – “You don’t love me, Mommy.”  Give them a hug and a smile and move on.  Likewise, you can listen to the drama of a six-year-old for so long, and then give them a hug and say.”I have heard you.  I am going to do the dishes now, and I know how sad you are.  I can listen more to you later. Come and have a snack.”  Be calm and limit your words!
  •  

    Hope these tips will help you have realistic expectations for those five and six year olds!

    Carrie

    Realistic Expectations: Day Number Ten of 20 Days Toward Being A More Mindful Mother

    Last post we addressed being able to set calm limits.  Part of that calmness comes from knowing what are realistic expectations for each age.  This by itself could be a small book, but let’s point out a few highlights for age three up through age eight in this three-part post!

    AGE THREE:  Three is very, very little.  According to Waldorf parenting and pedagogy, the first three years are for the establishment for walking (which takes about two and a half years to be a very mature walker without needing the arms for balance, being able to run, etc); the development of speech and the development of thinking as first seen by use of the term “I”.

    Some parents get very upset around the three and a half year mark as children start to exert some will and push against the forms of the day and the rhythms you have crafted.  This is not something to be annoyed with, this is something to be celebrated!  Seriously!

    Typical developmental things about the three and a half -year-olds include (this is according to the Gesell Institute, not necessarily my personal opinion!):

    • Turbulent, troubled period of disequilibrium, the simplest  event or occasion can elicit total rebellion; strong and secure gross motor abilities may turn more into stumbling, falling, at this age; new- found verbal ability such as  “I’ll cut you in pieces!” and lots of whining
    • May refuse to do things a lot, or howl and scream, or say a lot of “I can’t” I won’t” kinds of things
    • Three and a half to four may be the height  for the most “WHY?”  “WHERE?”  “WHAT?” kinds of questions
    • Demanding, bossy, turbulent, troubled but mainly due to emotional insecurity
    • May refuse to take part in daily routine

    SO, expect some pushing against what you do daily, and have some distraction plans at hand. 

    Sit down and make a list of animals and how they move, so you can pull out some creative animal games to “hop over here like a kangaroo” or other animal movements you will need to get something accomplished.  Think about what appeals to your boy or girl with moving objects or occupations so you can round up blocks like  a shepherd rounding up sheep (clean-up) and other tasks.  Think about how to structure your environment so less toys are immediately available without your help; this avoids much clean-up.   Think about setting up play scenarios; at three they are just learning how to start fantasy play and making believe and they may need your help to get started!

    Expect some struggles around bedtime perhaps; think about how to shorten your bedtime routine and how you will handle things when they are not going well and everyone is just tired.  Think about less choices  and less words all the way around for this age.

    Think about the amount of outside time you will include in your day – this is very important!

    Figure out how to be strong and carry the work and rhythms of the day even if your child does not participate!

    REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: from a traditional physical therapy/occupational therapy perspective – According to traditional childhood development sources, a three-year-old may most likely be able to:

    • At three and  a  half to age four, may use a spoon for liquids; may use a fork with some spilling; may refill his or her glass from a container that holds less than the glass does; can drink from a water fountain an adult turns on.
    • Can distinguish between a bowel movement and urination; around three and a half may or may not go to the bathroom at  regular intervals
    • Can turn off water in bathroom when you ask; may be able to put toothpaste on toothbrush and wet the toothbrush; can put comb or brush in hair; can pull pants up; can get clothing out and put it on by around three and  a half, although the average age for complete dressing is age 5.  Can pull off shoes and unzip and unsnap clothing.
    • Probably knows own name and names of siblings, may know if they or their family members  are male or female.
    • Can string large beads; roll clay or other modeling material into a snake shape, probably can match objects, cut paper with scissors, may know primary colors, may be able to roll clay into a ball.
    • May be able to play a game with another person, such as rolling a ball back and forth;  they can usually talk about a game  that just finished and start a new game; can take turns in a game at least 25 percent of the time
    • Can sit quietly for at least one minute; this moves up to five minutes at three and a half
    • Can say please and thank you; request help when needed
    • COMPLETES 10 PERCENT OF A TASK WITH ATTENTION AND REINFORCING BY AN ADULT; will start a task only when reminded at around three and a half and at that point may be able to complete 10 percent of the task with little input from an adult.  Carrie’s note:  Waldorf expectations and ways of working with a child’s will is often more in line with this than mainstream methods we see out there!
    • May sing parts and phrases of familiar songs.
    • (These milestones came from the Hawaii Early Learning Profile for Children ages 3-6).

    How did you do?  Were you expecting MORE?

    Another thing to consider is I have seen parents whose oldest is three and they are so eager to jump into Waldorf homeschooling that they are setting up things much more suitable for a five or six year old.  Three is very, very little!  Think rhythm, warmth, them watching you work and joining in here and there, some festival preparation and singing, getting them outside a lot and into their bodies.  The other parts will come.  In a Waldorf Kindergarten (school) a three-year-old may be trying to do many things with a large group of older children to carry them; at home this is not the case usually!

    AGE FOUR:  Please see this post:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/09/05/realistic-expectations-for-the-four-year-old/

    and here are a few milestones: 

    • Usually can go to the toilet when needed and has few accidents; may be able to wipe after toileting, by four and a half or close to five may be able to tear toilet  paper appropriately and flush toilet after use.
    • Can allow hair to be washed without getting upset; wash and rinse body areas with verbal help; run comb or brush through hair by age 5; can typically put on clothing when told, by age 6 may be able to dress at a designated time without being reminded; usually can do zippers by almost age 5, can unbutton clothing now, pull pull-over clothing off completely; may be able to unlace shoes
    • Can spit toothpaste out and rinse toothbrush and put cap back on toothpaste by age four and a half.
    • Can tell month of birth before age 5 usually. also may know street name or father and mother’s first and last names possibly.  By age 5 may know phone number.
    • Can usually string small beads; spread glue on one thing and turn it over to stick it to another piece of paper; can cut across the paper following a straight or curvy line; can fold paper in half with edges meeting
    • Can walk down stairs with alternating feet while holding a railing, may be able to jump off bottom step, stand on tiptoes, kick a stationary ball, jump at least two feet forward with feet together; balance on one foot for at least five second with eyes open, can gallop; can ride tricycle without running into things, can do a somersault; can maintain momentum on a swing; can hop at least 10 feet on one foot
    • Can try again if a change in activities or a disappointment occurs and time elapses or if reassured; by age five will take turns in a game 50 to 75 percent of the time; can sit quietly for 10 minutes; can share toys by around four and a half years of age;
    • By age four, attends  to a  task for 5 minutes without supervision and completes 25 to 50 percent of the task with little attention or prompting (I am not so sure this would be typical in a homeschooling environment with little exposure to a large group environment; what do you all think?)
    • May march in time to music, shift rhythm if the tempo of music changes.
    • Again, this is a traditional perspective of children involved in a classroom setting so keep that in mind!

     

    Many blessings, on to ages five through eight later!

    Carrie