I field questions all the time that basically boil down to, “How do I get my child to do what I want?” Well, welcome to dealing with another human being who isn’t you! It is a precious dance between two often very different people with different activity levels and temperaments. I always joke and tell people if you expect obedience, well, that is more like a dog than a human! Haha.
But seriously, first of all, if you can, please stop thinking of it as a war where the child is thwarting what you want or need to happen. If you come in with the attitude that your child or teen has to do only what you want in the way you want it, then it becomes a mindset of a battlefield. Put out into your family space that you are team and that you can work together with you, the parent or parents, leading. Take the time to SHOW your younger children how, when, and where you want things done and also accept that there can be, especially for older children and teens, more than one way to accomplish the same task. This is an important attitude to carry! If you need help with this and see most of the main things your children do as “defiant” then I recommend you take a moment to go through this back post: Defiance
If you are looking to help children and make a peaceful homelife, then here are some suggestions by age since this is what developmental parenting is all about:
If you are talking about a tiny toddler to second grade the best way to help guide children along amounts to using connection, rhythm, pictures in your speech, distraction, and stop talking so much! If you need help, try these back posts:
Talking in Pictures To Young Children
From third grade to sixth grade, I think the best way to help guide these children is through the idea of connection and loving authority. Yes, in the Waldorf Schools this is seen as very important in the grades, beginning in first grade and coming into full force with the students in the nine-year change. You simply must rise up and be the kind authority in your home. This means having actual boundaries and actual consequences. Rhythm is still really important as well as NOT overscheduling this age group. There should be plenty of time for movement out in nature and child-led play (not games led by adults).
Back post to help: Authority: The Challenge of Our Times
Boundaries for Gentle Discipline: Why? How?
Helping A Child Learn To Rule Over Himself
In speaking with twelve to fifteen year olds, I think the main piece of advice i have is to Let. it.go within reason. You cannot micromanage everything, and everything simply cannot be a battle. You can use rhythm, connection, simple guiding and conversation about why something should be. Bite your tongue more. Many of the awkward or angry or tearful stages these teens go through will be done with the fifteen/sixteen change, whenever that happens for that individual child, and whatever they are doing will change as well unless they are facing serious challenges that need professional help. Increased responsibiity and freedom in the right amounts is important.
Blog Posts to help: Playing for the Same Team
Changing Our Parenting Language
This idea of responsbility and freedom always carries over into the time when young adults are forging out into the world after the fifteen/sixteen change. This is the stage of mentoring and helping along. Some parents are better at this than others – it can be a fine line between being overbearing and doing everything for a young person or stepping back and not really helping at all. It is the stage of reminding young adults that whilst there is fun and freedom, there is also responsibility and consequences of their actions. The seventeen year olds transitioning to this may need some extra help sorting through some of this, and since we know the brain is not fully developed for executive functioning and decision-making until age 28, we know we may need to be around to help, but this is definitely more of a mentoring relationship and model.
Blog Post to help: After the Fifteen/Sixteen Change