Does this exist?
From a Waldorf perspective, children in the first seven year cycle are neither inherently good nor bad but learning. They are not “defiant”; defiance implies a fully conscious knowing of right and wrong and choosing to do the opposite, wrong, thing. Since in the land of Waldorf parenting we believe the first seven years are a dreamy state, a state where logical thought has not yet entered, a state where the child is one giant sense organ (an eye!) and just taking in sensory impressions without a filter, there can be no “defiance”. Many times the power struggles we create with our children are a result of our own lack of knowledge of developmental stages, not having the right tools to guide our child, our own inner issues at the moment and not as much to do with the child as we thought!
Of course a small child wants what they want when they want it. This is part of the fact that the small child lives specifically within their bodies and within their WILL. Remember, Waldorf is about willing, feeling, and thinking. Thinking comes in much later. A two-year-old will push against forms that you create in rhythm; this is why the rhythm is for YOU if you have a child under the age of 6. If your child does not want to participate in what is going on at the moment, you are still DOING it yourself and the child may or may not join in. This is another reason to not “push” official “school” with a child of three or four; in the classroom environment there is a whole class with older children doing the same thing to help hold the space but at home the child has perhaps no other age to carry them along.
As far as “not listening” which seems to be the most common compliant hooked into “defiance” (ie, I tell them something and they don’t do it) (and by the way, I hear this in the part of the country where I live starting with one-year-olds! My one-year-old doesn’t listen! They are so naughty!), a small child is not SUPPOSED to listen.
Yes, re-read that for a moment. You may think this is a very radical statement!
Read it again. Your 2, 3, 4, and yes even 5 year old is living in their BODY, not in their head. When you give them a “verbal command” and they have to go up into their head to process it, this is involving thinking, which is something Waldorf educators see children using as a dominant way to respond to an environment LATER. It is NOT that small children do not think, it is NOT that they do not have thoughts, important thoughts!!, but that they live in the moment, they have this will to do what they want without many overriding mechanisms at this point to slow things down. They are LEARNING.
From an attachment parenting perspective, we also do not look at the small child as being “defiant” or “naughty.” We look at what the child might be feeling underneath the behavior being displayed. We look at what we can modify in the environment. We look at how we can calmly guide the child in the situation.
We look at this in Waldorf as well, it is just in Waldorf we tend not to ask as many questions of the child because we feel words may not be the best way to communicate with the small child who is living in the BODY. We try to communicate through movement, through fantasy, through song and verse. This changes as the child grows! It does not last forever!
With both Waldorf and attachment parenting, we strive to look at NORMAL developmental behavior. A three, four and five ear old, even a six-year-old may throw themselves on the floor, throw an object, scream and cry. Dressing themselves with only a reminder comes in at the AVERAGE age of five. If you are having trouble with a specific age, please, please use the tags sidebar and click on the age that is problematic right now to you: the three-year-old, the-four-year-old, etc etc. Four and six seem to be ages that give parents the MOST trouble. There are many posts specifically geared to these ages.
If you feel you are having difficulty with changing your mindset from a punitive, punishment, my –child –is –wrong –and- I –am –right- mindset with a small child, this is not going to get you going anywhere great. Here are some posts to help you!
and my personal favorite regarding how we create battlefields where we and our children are on opposite sides:
This is about realistic expectations for toddlers and includes the different disciplinary styles of families:
If you are still saying, well, but MY child does this and i have no tools, I urge you to call your local La Leche League Chapter or Attachment Parenting Chapter. Many times the Leaders there can help you troubleshoot discipline issues and challenges over the phone and give helpful, gentle suggestions! They may also have special meetings geared JUST to gentle discipline.
Gentle discipline does NOT mean not setting boundaries, but we try to do it in a way that respects the child’s developmental stage, keep the child’s dignity intact and guide the child. Here are examples of ways to set limits for toddlers in gentle ways with consideration for the child:
and for the big picture, some tools:
We set boundaries, but many times we often deal with things indirectly! Here is an example a mom sent in, and here is how I might have handled that:
(This is a four-year-old): The situation was this:
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 other 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 until you sit down & carried on with the skipping game with her older sister. Eventually she sat down.
What was the feeling of the little girl? Perhaps she wanted her daddy to stay home, perhaps she just wanted to play in the car but daddy needed to go right then, perhaps she just wanted to try out pretending to go to work with daddy. Let’s attribute positive intent!
Maybe I would have said, “You really wanted to go to work today! Did you know that even animals go to work? Once upon a time, there was a frog who really wanted to go to work too, but he couldn’t jump! (take chalk and draw two lines, I assume this situation happened in the driveway or the garage to involve a car??). Can you be a frog and show me how to hop over these two lines?”
Perhaps I would have said, “Oh, I see cars on the floor! Maybe they need a road! “ and get out something to draw or build a road.
Perhaps I would have said, “Wow, I really could use your help! I can’t figure out how many times in a row your sister can skip! Maybe we could count together?”
Perhaps she needed a snack and then we put the toy cars back in the garage together!
Those are just some examples of an indirect way to approach things; distraction is a very viable tool even up through age 7 and we often forget! Restitution is also VERY important, but we cannot force restitution in the moment of flooding emotion, we must calm down and go back to it. Forcing the child to do “X” when they are upset and you are upset is not a productive learning tool; a sincere opportunity exists for learning when the flooded moment has passed. But this is still through action, not so many words!
Hope these thoughts are helpful and many blessings on your day as you become the peaceful parent you want to be!
Lots of love,