Small Child, Your Challenging Behavior Is About As Interesting To Me…

As a piece of lint on the floor. Ho-hum, ho-hum.  I am over here doing real work, and please come join me.  I hear you,  I see you, I will connect with you and help you move into work and movement.  I will help you with a good sense of humor.  I will help you stick to the boundary I set,  but with my  ho-hum.

A fifteen month old will arch and protest over what he does not want to do.  A two-year-old will experiment with “no” about a million times.  A four-year-old will get wound up and use “potty words”.  A six-year-old will tell you they hate you and slam doors.  A nine or ten year old will experiment with swear words (which is about the equivalent of a four year old saying potty words).


It is hard not get emotionally wound up about challenging behaviors when they stem from our own children, when these behaviors  stem from pushing against the boundaries we have set, and when we have to live with this pushing against forms 24 hours a day.

Yet, the more you can be warm and loving but ho-hum, the better life will be.

The more we can stop and think before we say something or do something, the more we model that temperance for children that is so important.  However, by the same token, we do not model passively sitting by and doing nothing when something clearly needs to be done.  There needs to be a Middle Way, which is something that Waldorf Education frequently talks about.

We want to raise a generation of children who can take that moment to pause and to think before they act, but yet  we also want to raise a generation of children who will grow up to DO.  We want to raise a generation of children who are healthy enough in their bodies and their minds that they can do what will need to be done to make our world a better place but to  do it with thoughtfulness and reverence.

And it all starts in the home, with us, the parents, being able to distinguish and discern when to act, when not to act, what to say and what not to say.   It starts with us, the parents, being able to give our children a childhood that is real and authentic and not a watered-down version of adult reality.  It requires boundaries and it requires love.  A whole lotta of love.

And it requires a ho-hum attitude.  

Be peaceful.  Be authentic and be real, but know when to raise a fuss and when to be ho-hum.  Big things require big reactions, but little things do not.

That is part of the parenting path and work for us as parents in this year and in this time.

Many blessings,


15 thoughts on “Small Child, Your Challenging Behavior Is About As Interesting To Me…

  1. Hi, Carrie!I am consoled to know that children are the same all over the world…I totally agree with you when you say that everything starts with us parents:is really difficult to have a ho-hum attitude, but i try every day…
    Thanks for what you share (and I hope my English is not so bad…)
    Hugs from Italy

  2. A very timely post. Being alone during the dinner hour tonight I was called a ‘poopy head’ by my four-year old during a fit, told by my seven year old that I must hate him b/c I have him a consequence for snatching food from his little brother and endured a series of sarcastic comments from my nine-year old daughter over really nothing at all. I feel great about my ‘ho-hum’ attitude during all of it and the love I was able to still put out in my home during all of this despite the age-appropriate behavior of the night!!!

  3. Carrie – I’m struggling with this a bit. I think I understand what you are saying, but in practice it comes off as (or feels to me) a bit…unfeeling? Which is not what I intend or want to model for my kids. Is there an example you can give of an appropriate ho-hum response? Whining and throwing things are our most common “challenges”….and finding the line between being too permissive, ignoring it, and flying off the handle has been tough. Where is the ho-hum balance? 🙂
    Thanks….and have been reading through back articles like crazy. So helpful.

    • Carrie,
      I’m really struggling with “finding the line between being too permissive, ignoring it, and flying off the handle” as the reader above. My five year old is going through a very challenging time. I’m trying to figure out if it’s because we are not responding correctly to what’s happening, and so it continues…OR if it’s just something that will pass in its own time. She gets frustrated very easily (what kids doesn’t!), but she goes from 0 to 100 very quickly with her rage, at least right now, not all the time. She has picked up using “damn it” in response to frustration. I live in a tiny village, we are all on top of each other all the time, and it is not acceptable in my community to ignore or “ho hum” my way through a child swearing. I really don’t know what to do. It is happening ALL the time in ALL situations. This is definitely a “stop, drop and roll” situation. I have to figure out something, or not leave the house for a week, and I don’t know what to do. I will be reading and exploring lots of information, so if you don’t have time to respond, no worries. But if you have any time to offer a few suggestions, I would be grateful.

    • Chris,
      What have you tried when she does this? I guess my first thought is, yes, you need to stay home for a bit! My second thought is that you talk about how we can’t say those words at a calm time, they are grown up words, and if she is frustrated she can say “X” and then you remind her before you head out…. But, I guess I am also wondering what is frustrating her so much? It is the holidays, and I have to say that most children are fairly ramped up this time of you may see improvement, and also things may need to back off for her to feel less frustrated. I wouldn’t ignore it at all, she is calling for a boundary and a limit here.
      Five is actually a tougher age than most give it credit for – very insecure, anxious, tumult!
      Feel free to comment here or email me at if you want to talk more privately.
      You are doing a great job!

    • Thank you so much!!! It’s very kind of you to reply so quickly, especially at such a busy time of year. I’ve been hesitant to give her something else to say, because it still feels to me like swearing, just with a different word. But I guess having a five year old screaming “dandelion” in public is much better than the other! 🙂 We worked on that last night, pretending to blow the “puff ball” afterwards with a calming breath. And got ourselves into quite a fit of giggling, which of course helped us both!
      Yes, there is a bit of schedule change coming into play here because of the holidays. But I think this is happening mainly because she is hungry. She is teething, not sleeping well, and possibly about to go through a growth spurt. We weaned a few months ago (thank you for all your extremely helpful writings on that subject!) Weaning went well, and post-weaning has been fine, too. But this is the first time that she doesn’t have that as part of her life, while she’s going through something. She isn’t asking to nurse or anything like that. But I just wonder if she’s a little at loose ends because of it.
      Seems like hunger should be an easy fix, right? But not really. She’s always been a nibbler, is very skinny, and loses interest in her food after the first few bites take the edge off her hunger. She then generally (this has always been the case since she was a toddler) spends the rest of the meal time talking, playing with her utensils, fidgeting, etc. She will say she’s all full, even when I know she’s not. Then, the problem is that when she flips out when she’s hungry, she’s so far gone that it’s pretty rough, and she doesn’t want to eat. Ahhhh. She never, ever says she is hungry or asks for food.
      Of course, I try to head this off at the pass, with a steady rhythm including regular meal times, plus mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack schedule. We have a very healthy diet, and I always make sure that snacks include protein, too. But sometimes it still all falls apart.
      I think the swearing has been difficult for me to handle because of a judgemental, unsupportive community, lack of other examples of healthy parenting, and other stress in my life lowering my capacity to rise to the occasion with confidence and humor. The mom that we share a co-op morning with is wonderful and has healthy boundaries and communication with her children. But we only see them once a week. The other parents we bump into on a daily basis in our tiny village (when we are out for walks, going to the Post Office, at holidays events, etc.) are not. Our adult friends do not have kids, and aren’t particularly skilled at dealing with kids. Plus when you add Waldorf into the mix, and asking highly educated adult friends not to spout math problems and spelling questions at her all the time… Well, I guess I am longing for a mythical, magical Shangri-la! 🙂
      So…onward we go! Thank you so much!!!

  4. Finding myself as a waldorf-inspired mother and home-maker on an extended maternity leave from my career so am always glad to read your blog now and then when I’m able. It always feels like the gentle timely or seasonal guidance I need. The world of motherhood and meaningful home making has opened up in a way I didn’t expect since having a child. Am resolved to make a special effort this year to take a more patient, understanding, and positive attitude with my 30 month old boy this year. I’ve realized that I wasn’t doing enough of that. Thank you.

  5. Thanks for the reminder and for giving examples. I find this so hard to do. To maintain my composure when I feel like I am being pulled in every direction at once. To know what is age appropriate. And to remember to be the grown up.

    Your readers honesty about their own short comings and struggles is very inspiring and validating.

    Thanks everyone!

  6. Thanks, Carrie….I needed that GOOD WORD IN DUE SEASON! =) Two little ones under two is overwhelming at the moment as my 1-1/2 yr old is a “two” year old developmentally and that’s hard with a newborn too! Lord, help me “HO-HUM!” I guess that’s my prayer tonight….and into the coming days! =)

  7. Pingback: 31 Days to the Inner Rhythm of the Heart: Day Nineteen | The Parenting Passageway

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.