My friend and I were talking about this today: how exactly do you talk to a seven or eight year old about things? In Waldorf, we say to speak to the young child under age seven as if painting pictures with our words. We strive for keeping the young child dreamy and not just handing the five or six-year old piles of information for which they have no context. We try to work through movement,through their bodies, through music.
But what does one do with this age of seven and eight? A seven or eight year still feels as though they are a part of the world, not separate. A part of that rock, that tree, that root over there, a part of you and a part of me. The world is still a beautiful place. But yet, the world is opening up and they are changing. We are supposed to be providing more information at this point because they are past that six/seven year transformation.
What I finally thought of was this analogy: sometimes with weaning a child, you hear the phrase don’t offer, but don’t refuse. In other words, if the child initiates a nursing session, go with it if you can but don’t offer if you don’t have to. I always thought this was a rather simplistic way to approach weaning (and you can see the two weaning posts on here if you would like to see more of my views on weaning!) but today I thought about the spirit of this.
If your seven or eight year old asks things, answer them as simply as possible. Now is the time to start answering things. However, do take into account that they don’t need a book on the subject, and in fact, most children of this age are satisfied with just a sentence or two about their subject of inquiry.
When offering information, one must always be thinking: is this topic something they need to know everything about right now? In a year, when this topic comes up again, can I address it further? Will this topic come up again in everyday life and can I address it little by little as it comes up?
If I want to bring something up with my child, I always ask myself, do they need this information now? Is it essential information for them right this minute? In a year, when they have more maturity, will it be better received at that point?
Parenting often has more of an art to it than people suppose and these are the questions I ask myself. When to lead, when to follow my child’s lead, how much information to provide and when. I firmly believe there should be a difference in what we tell an eight-year-old and a fifteen-year-old on a given topic.