This is our last look at this wonderful book, Stephen Spitalny’s “Connecting With Young Children: Educating the Will”. Chapter Six is all about conflict resolution with young children. This is such a useful, practical, warm and loving chapter. I hope you all are reading along!
There are some very salient points the author makes that become further elucidated in this chapter. I urge you to read it! For example, here are just a few points:
- Young children learn through imitation. Respond from a calm, centered and loving place. Choose your response rather than just react.
- Understand that you, the adult, need patience. Children will do the same things and you will need to respond calmly, gently, in the same way, over and over.
- Always remember the foundations of solid rest and warming foods for the child (and for yourself!).
- The longer you let behavior “slide”, the harder it is to change. The child is always imitating you, so responding in a true and beautiful way, repeatedly, is the key.
- Punishment, coercion, threats, bribes, ordering, demanding, nagging are not effective ways to help and guide young children. Nor is scolding, lecturing, threatening, moralizing, reasoning, explaining – read the chapter to learn more about this and why these are not effective.
- We CAN use mantras – there are some great examples in this chapter about wording when we don’t like something, what to say when a little friend doesn’t like something, about how kindergarteners especially can use their words to solve problems.
- Learning requires the will forces. Just having a child apologize really doesn’t do anything to engage the will forces; I always think of this as the will forces that need to be involved in restitution.
- Conflict resolution requires much more than just blaming and shaming; again, what can the child do to help resolve the challenge?
I urge you to read this chapter to assist you in your own parenting and to help you guide all the children you have in your care.
Chapter Seven in this book, is my favorite chapter. This chapter is entitled, “On the Self-Development of the Adult.” How do we develop the qualities we need to work with young children? How do we develop patience, persistence, calmness, thinking ahead, intuition, imagination? This is such a big topic!
Self-awareness is the beginning of developing all of these qualities. Rudolf Steiner’s Ruckshau exercise can be helpful in this regard. Developing the ability to truly see the other, without judgment or labeling, is another developing capacity for must of us as parents and teachers. I think these sections are a true strength in these chapters.
Another aspect of consideration the author writes about is of Rudolf Steiner’s pedagogical law. Steiner felt that the teacher’s life forces were helping to educate the child’s physical body during the first seven years of the child’s life; and that the adult’s astral body, or soul, of the teacher was working with the child’s life forces in a child aged 0-7. This may be new to some of you, so you can do your own background reading to find out more about this aspect of Steiner’s pedagogy. Therefore, for us as parents and teachers, nurturing our etheric health, our own life forces, is very important. Our own sleep, clean and healthy eating, our own ability to have our environments clean and organized, our own sense of balance are all important in our teaching.
Steiner also gave instructions for meditative exercises which may be of interest. There are other wonderful suggestions on pages 150-161. I especially enjoyed the section regarding finding and capturing joy, and how we need to deal with fear and pain in our lives. Chapter 8, the very last chapter of this book, details how to put things together to start afresh, start anew in order to become an “expert-in-the-becoming”, in the author’s words.
I hope you have enjoyed this book as much as I have. I return to it again and again and always find something new to ponder and guide me.