We are still plugging away through this book, do see the back posts on each chapter. Amazon has this book for sale here: http://www.amazon.com/Discipline-Without-Distress-responsible-punishment/dp/0978050908/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1264905764&sr=8-1
Today we are looking at the chapter that talks about the influences on discipline from your child.
First up is the idea of developmental milestones and stages. For those of you who regularly follow this blog, you know I am big into this. Characteristics of ages three to nine are now on this blog, you can use the search engine to look up ages. I am working on posts for the one-month-old through age two and a half as we speak, so eventually every age from birth until the nine-year-change will be represented on here and I hope that will really help many, many parents.
Judy Arnall points out that once children reach a new stage, they can regress backward to a previous stage until they move forward again. Parents can often view this as “misbehavior” or that the child is “just doing this to annoy me; they know better” when in reality they are getting used to this new stage and learning.
The author addressed temperament, and how the intensity of temperament is what often counts. I personally think that temperament, at least the traditional view of temperament, is often highly charged and read into by parents. I know that offends some of you, and I am sorry for that, but in my personal experience and in my observation of hanging around the attachment parenting community for a long time now, I think that we should put less “labels” on it all and focus on meeting a child’s behaviors where they are. Sensitive children do need lots of understanding, but so do all children. All children, even so-called “easy-going” children go through days where their behavior is more challenging and they need help and guidance and connection and warmth. Part of the personal development and inner work in parenting is learning to be calm during these times, to help guide the child, to meet the child with warmth and understanding and connection.
My problem with the labels (and I have said this before in my post on the older child with “high needs”) is that they have a way of not disappearing as the child grows – once a “high-needs baby” then a “high-needs child” then a “high-needs dramatic teenager”. Yes, there are those personality traits associated in much of the attachment parenting literature (persistence, sensitivity, adaptability, intensity, regularity, activity level, first reaction, mood), and everyone does have these traits to different degrees, but what a boring world it would be if we were all easy-going! Sometimes I just feel that “high needs I know some will totally disagree with this, I just want to challenge parents to meet their babies and children where they are, without labels and judging and just meet them with love. You can use the search engine to find more posts about the “high-needs” baby and child and older child.
One thing the author does mention, which I think is totally true, is that some children are more distractible than others, and how sometimes a child who is sensitive to noise and other stimuli end up with massive temper tantrums. Judy Arnall puts this under the label of the “highly spirited child”. One other thing she points out about this type of child is that rhythm, warmth, rest/sleep, physical contact, is very important for this type of child. These are the things that Steiner saw as important for every child, and I find it interesting, this intersection of attachment parenting and Waldorf parenting (again!)
The author talks about allowing spirited children to have their whole range of emotions, but again, I think this is important for all children. I feel that yes, some may have more intense demonstrations of emotion that last longer, but all children have emotion! In younger children, the emotions are more undifferentiated (most small children when upset just feel “bad” for example, if you ask them), and the ability to verbalize emotions increases with age and maturity. In this chapter, the author talks about the need for the spirited child to have boundaries that cover the important things and not to “battle” over smaller things – this is something I advocate for dealing with all children.
The author tackles maturation and birth order. The birth order section was interesting to me, birth order always is.
She recommends for the oldest to give privileges with age, to be careful of their mothering or fathering tendencies and do not put them in charge of siblings all of the time, encourage fun and spontaneity, reinforce that mistakes are okay. For middle-born children, she recommends encouraging help with chores, asking their advice and avoiding comparisons, put them in the number one position at times and to give them some new things instead of hand-me-downs for everything. For youngest children she recommends giving chores and responsibility, encouraging independence, and not doing less for them than you did for your oldest. For only children, she recommends giving lots of opportunities to develop friendships (okay, as an only child I take a bit of offense here. Why is that all people seem to think that only children are spoiled brats and need to learn to share? I have actually had people say to me, “Wow, you don’t act like an only child!” I guess that is a nice compliment in a back-handed way?! Hahaha.) She also recommends for the only child letting them find things to do when they are bored, encouraging sharing and problem-solving skills for conflicts, and doing your best to avoid discussing adult problems and concerns with them (which I recommend for all small children under the age of 7).
She talks about the new baby-toddler syndrome (you know, where your three and four year old seem so big now that there is a baby in the house?) The author talks about learning styles and multiples intelligences with their implications for discipline, and gender differences. For a further look, do see back posts on the Elium’s “Raising a Daughter” and “Raising A Son.” Excellent books as well on this. She also discusses personality traits, love languages, sensitive children, and brain development milestones.
The brain development milestones is a section I think should be required reading for parents. I believe today too many parents think their small child has the reasoning capability of an adult, which they strongly rely on in discipline. This is a faulty view based upon the biology of the child. The author here goes into every age and what they really do or don’t understand. Here are just a few examples, get the book to see all of them!
- A two-year-old does not understand time-out or what they did wrong or consequences and has no impulse control. Also has really no memory – when Mommy is gone, Mommy is gone.
- At five years old, most seem to understand “no” means “do not do that.” They comply with requests less than half of the time. They still may hit or kick when frustrated.
- At six years old, the child cannot “multi-task”. They can do simple chores one at a time. They are starting to understand a bit more about what is dangerous, but often doesn’t understand why something is dangerous.
- Seven years can sit still for half an hour to forty-five minutes; begins to know what is dangerous and why but will forget in the moment if preoccupied with something else
- Eleven years – stops hitting other person when they are angry, can understand social implication of lying and swearing
- Twelve years – can do chores without nagging or reminding
- Twenty to twenty five years is when the frontal lobes are still developing (the frontal lobes control logical thinking and planning, understanding consequences).
I love things like this because they really prove and demonstrate how slowly children develop.
The author remind us that children are ego-centric, loud, messy, can put themselves in dangerous situations, don’t know how to clean up, very active until about age 12 and need that balance of physical activity versus quiet activities, they are not time focused, they don’t know how loud they are, they are honest, they do things without thinking!
Does this description sound like any of the children in your life?
Love for today,