An Iron Fist or A Feather?

I know  many mothers who believe that being the Queen of Their Home means essentially micro-managing every single thing in their home.  Answering every single question or word uttered by their child.  It means managing not only homeschooling, the chores around the home, but the people as well – Dad, the children, the dog.

I believe if you are the Queen of Your Home, you will rule more gently than that!  A rhythm is not a micro-managed schedule – it is an order, but it does not preclude stopping for warmth, love, hugs and kisses and fun!  It does not involve hovering over each member of the family, but it does involve Loving Accountability for the children.

How many of us have done this with their older children?

Mother:  Please pick your clothes up off the floor!

Child:  In a minute, I have to go to the bathroom!

Mother:  Okay, when you come out of the bathroom, please pick up your clothes.

(Child running around and jumping on other siblings)

Mother:  Come and pick up your clothes please!

(Child wrestling with dog and building jump for dog out of pillows)

Mother:  Are you sure you flushed?  Can you come and pick up these clothes now as I asked?

Big sigh here.

Loving Accountability for the child under the age of 7 would be to do the activity with the child to help them be on task.  For example, on average, a child begins to dress himself with reminders at age 5- this is the average age!  An average age to dress himself without reminders or help needed is age 10!

So, step number one would be to be familiar with normal developmental expectations!  Is what you asking reasonable?  What age is your child?  Is your child under the age of 7?    Step number two would be to understand you cannot be a verbal-only parent with a child under the age of 7.  Step number three would be to realize that you are doing a disservice for your child over the age of 7 by consistently micro-managing what you ask them to do.  Say it once, help the child if it is a new task and they need to learn, break it down into steps with them, practice it together  over a period of time and when they have it the task down give them ownership of it.  If the clothes are not picked up the floor, oh dear,  I guess I can read you the chapter of this book when the clothes jump into that drawer!  Not a punishment there, just a gentle prod of ownership and Loving Accountability.

You can have a wonderful rhythm to your day where the family helps participate in the loving care of the home!  Put away The Iron Fist and live with the notion of Loving Accountability and a light-as- a-feather touch.  A Queen should never be ruffled in her own castle!

Quiet confidence in parenting is a great strength!  Test yourself this week:  what expectations do I have?  Are they reasonable?  Am I ruling with An Iron Fist or a Feather?  Am I exuding quiet confidence and holding the space with quiet calmness or am I completely exasperated?  If you feel calm and confidence, this will decrease your anger as a parent.

This week in your inner work, see if you can ponder the images of An Iron Fist or A Feather.  See if you can understand that while many times we become angry in parenting, we can also choose to back up the train and respond with calmness and confidence if we keep in mind normal developmental expectations, the developmental needs and responsiveness of children under and over 7, how to assist an older child in learning a task, and giving them ownership and accountability.  Being mindful in the face of stress is an area of practice and focus for many of us!

May your touch be as light as a feather this week in your home,


13 thoughts on “An Iron Fist or A Feather?

  1. I really think I need to come live with you for a little while! Ever since I stumbled onto your blog I have been inspired to change the way I view my newly turned 5 year old whom I now realize I expect way to much from.
    Society tells us to push our children to independence younger and younger, which leads to so much frustration and tears. I would love some resources about children under the age of 7 so that I can further understand what is reasonable to expect and how to make my day/household run much more calmly and smoothly.
    Thank you!!


    • Connie, if you hit “Children Under Seven” “Five Year Old” and “Waldorf Kindergarten” in the tag section on the right lots and lots of posts will come up..
      Many blessings and welcome to my blog!

  2. Thank you for this post, I love:
    ” A Queen should never be ruffled in her own castle!”

    I find myself asking more then one question/request at a time (you need to pick up your markers, did you wipe? are you sure? don’t stand on the table!) Trying to talk less, do more:) Thanks again-

  3. Hello Carrie
    please may a ask a couple of questions?
    Can you recommend a good resource for developmental milestones (pref. online)?

    Can you explain what you think is a good way to deal with a child who shows out right defiance – “no!”

    Many thanks for another inspiring post!

    • Lynn,
      From a traditional perspective, I recommend the Gesell Institute Series (Your One Year Old, Your Two Year Old, etc). From an anthroposophic/Waldorf viewpoint, you can try the three “biggies” – “Heaven on Earth” “You Are Your Child’s First Teacher” and “Beyond the Rainbow Bridge.” Many of these you can get through the library or through used book lists…From a more strongly anthroposophical perspective, Steiner’s work in “Soul Economy” comes to mind. Also you can search for back issues of Gateways, the Kindergarten journal.
      Please tell me the ages of the children with “defiance” issues and I would be happy to address..

  4. Thank you so much…
    I couldn’t find you email address so I write here my question.

    If you can, could you please tell me you point of view about thumb sucking?
    My case
    My four and a half years old little girl is a great thumb sucker. Since she was two months old. Until now I’ve never asked her verbally not to suck. Her teacher at her Waldorf Kindergarten takes the thumb off of her mouth when they are sitting at the table for example.
    Actuallly I’ve done nothing about it until now. She never isolated herself, I don’t see in her any sign of the classical psychological old theories (but also Waldorf) about thumb sucking. My opinion is simply that she likes it expecially whan I hold her in my arms, when she’s tired or in new stranger’s contexts. But to be honest, if she’s not playing, or doing something, she sucks.

    So, where’s the problem? Her teeth and the osteopathist said it’s not good for her posture and balance right-left. She’s left handed by the way and sucks the right.

    I’ve seen on the web they sell some kind of gloves, impossible to take off, and said in two months the child should loose the habit. But it seems to me she’s far too little to be forced like that and I admit that having been a thumb sucker until very late (middle school) I too much empathisize with her and can imagine the nervosisim she could be going through.

    Only if it’s an issue you deal with and if you have time in the next days, weeks or months I’d like to hear your thoughts about it.

    Grazie, ciao

    • Federica,
      I would like to write a post on this, it is something that has come up for folks. I guess my first thought would be how much physical activity is occurring throughout the day, and how much sleep/rest is going on. If it were my child, I would consider having her evaluated by a homeopath who understands children as well. I have found homeopathic remedies and Bach Flower Essences to be very helpful for my family.
      Look for a blog post to come!

  5. Brilliant post – do you by any chance have some resources to go with expectations for older children? Perhaps 7 to 10, then beyond 10??? I’ll check your sidebar too.

    Just curious – and thank you :). This is so very good!

  6. hello Carrie
    thank you for those suggestions on resources. My ‘defiant’ child has just turned 4 & has always been very strong willed, unlike her very obedient, happy to get along older sister.
    She will often just say no outright-& run away.
    This morning, she wanted to sit in our car-daddy got in & drove away to work -she pitched a fit, threw a little car she was holding. I told her she may not throw her toys. So she threw a little soft toy she was holding with her ohter hand. So I told her to sit down right where she was. “i will not sit down’ hmmm. So I say, you may stay put untill you sit down & carried on with the skipping game with her older sister. Eventually she say down.
    I feel deep down that she rules the roost. & so does she. I am knew to waldorf & this way of parenting is so new for me & I feel lacking in knowing just how to work with this dominant little one.
    Thank you

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