Gentle discipline is the mainstay of parenting life, because it encompasses guiding and validating the authentic spiritual being that is every human being and child. It is a mindset to live by and parent by, and if you can master some of these techniques, you will find yourself even having more positive communication and conflict resolution with other adults.
I have wanted to do a round-up of techniques by age, and here it finally is beginning. I hope it will be helpful to you, and do please feel free to add your own thoughts or experiences to this list.
In Part Two, we focused on birth through age 4. Today we are going to look at ages five and six. The mainstay of gentle discipline for these years begins with our own inner work and development, as discussed in Part One of this series.
Birth through age four encompasses a time of protection, physical movement, warmth and trust and love in a caregiver and in a good world. The ending of this stage sees the use of the words “I” and “no” not as an act of defiance or disobedience, but as growth into individuality. Ages five and six also sees the same importance of protection, physical movement, warmth, and love and trust in a caregiver continue. However, play and social experiences now expands during these years, (although some children will not blossom into truly enjoying other children until the six/seven year transformation). Play is the main theme for these years, and also a look at the willing gesture involved in roles, power, and control.
Many five and six year olds are trying to figure out roles within their world. This is the time of play with roles and in being archetypal characters. There is often is a fluidity in these roles in play, and the play can also can have a bit of an authority/submissive quality to it – you be the dog and I will be the owner, you be the child and I will be the daddy, etc. It can also, in the realm of guiding within the home or classroom, be a time of pushing against the typical rhythm and boundaries. You can see more about five year old development at “The Fabulous Five Year Old” and the six year old here at “The Snazzy Six Year Old.”
Get your ho-hum on. From the height of sex play at age six to late potty training to picky eating to a children testing boundaries verbally, there always seems like there is something to either worry about or get upset about. Get your ho-hum on. This too shall pass.
Rhythm and outside play are at a high importance. Rhythm also includes the “preparation” and “picking up” part of daily life or inside play. This is very important to not skip, and to set time aside to do it together with you modeling the way. Get organized so things have a place!
Connect and look for the positive. Look for the good qualities that make up the message of your life and notice when your children are taking part in the message, the values of your family. Give a smile or a pat. Five and six year olds still need to be tucked in at night, hugged and held and enjoyed. Tell them you love them and that they are wonderful! Because they are!
Watch your language. Keep your words calm and short. One or two sentences are enough. If you get to the point where you want to rant, call a friend and rant to him or her instead. Take a break and go outside or go lay down and come back. If you want to make announcements and threats, go in your room and make them to the mirror. Make sure your language reflects your love.
Know your boundaries and developmentally appropriate expectations. Be ready with restitution and follow through. Know that helping a five and six year with boundaries takes time and consistency. Make sure you are not expecting twelve or thirteen year old things out of a tiny five or six year old.
Slow down. Five and six year olds are still little, and home should be more than just a “home base” to check in upon here and there. Activities outside the home are not truly necessary for five and six year olds. Home really still really needs to be the focus of the day, week and year. Nature is still a powerful, soothing force for five and six year olds and for parents, too, so see what you can nurture around your own home – even if it is just a potted herb garden on the patio and a birdfeeder.
Give time to yourself, so you can be at the top of your game.
‘What are your best tips for guiding five and six year olds?