Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles

I love Chapter 14 of this book because it is about balancing boundaries and independence, which is something I think as parents we are always riding the line between, no matter what the age of our children.

Part of boundaries and setting limits, particularly for toddlers and onward could be to offer two small choices (either one acceptable), follow through on the choices (I can hold you if you sit quietly or I can put you down), and then be able to not be afraid of the child’s protest, outburst, anger, or sadness. We follow up with the ability to try again.  I like what Mary Sheedy Kurcinka says on page 245: ” When you say yes, you give her a sense of autonomy, a chest-pumping pride of acheivement, a glowing sense of capablity.  When you say no, you are teaching her when and how to stop herself.”

The challenge, of course, is to get the balance right – so many parents say no to each and every thing until the child doubts his or her own capablity, and so many parents never say no to anything at all, meaning the child never learns how to stop him or herself.  It is much harder for older teens and young adults to figure out how to stop themselves and give themselves limits if this was never ever modeled or taught earlier.

Finding that balance can be individual for each child – age, circumstance, but also temperament,  developmental age and maturity, along with  your family’s values. We all want our children to be capable, so sometimes it bothers parents that in order for this to happen we have to model our best decision making for our children, and yes, gradually  helping our child learn to control him or herself.  We teach and we guide.

Manners and safety become good places to start with boundaries and then increasing independence.  Manners are actually important, because it is a sign of respect for other people, and because we all live together. Safety is something  we can’t negotiate on and must set boundaries. Safe doesn’t mean smothering, however, especially as our child grows toward independence and being on their own.  We support our children when they are young and help them move toward the point where we provide guidance.  This is possiblity no where as true than in the older teen years.   Our boundaries are guided by our family values.  The author gives the example of the Olympic ski-jumping champions on page 252.  She writes, ” I have to admit I’d have stopped them from jumping off the roof onto their mattresses even if they’d wanted to.  Today, my kids are not champion ski jumpers.  Theirs are.”

Sometimes when children are younger, what comes up is, “Well, so and so can do this. Their family does this.” That is the point though! Ultimately, not all families have the same rules or the same emphasis on things like work, play, adventure, etc.  We need to look at the child in front of us and figure out how to not only meet that child’s needs and temperament, but how to do that within our family value system.  Sometimes family mission statements are awesome for honing in on that – if you would like to see a back post about that, see Creating A Family Mission Statement

We need to respect our children’s no answers, but sometimes older children need a nudge.  The author points out on page 261 that helping to support a child through sometimes fearful sometimes requires nudging and that nudging is not pushing.  Whether it is learning to ride a bike, potty training, driving a care – sometimes children need a nudge.  It involves talking to your child about what is bothering them about the situation, and seeing what you can do to help support through that.  We also need to be careful to recognize that children may be doing things, just not the way we would do them and that is okay.

What did you all think of this chapter?  There aren’t too many more chapters left in the book and then we will be on to our next book!

Blessings,

Carrie

Monsoon Weather

I had a dear friend the other day liken her year to being a “monsoon year.”  I can relate to that – some years are like that, I have found and I really love that analogy of how just sometimes its overwhelming.

Some monsoon years our partners stand with us and help us find the sunshine in the monsoon.  But,  sometimes it is just enough to have  a partner stand with us in the monsoon and know that honestly, there is no sunshine coming right now.

Sometimes a person helps us steer the boat in the monsoon and all we can do is just try to hang on through it, exhausted and tired.

Sometimes people jump out of the boat while we are in the monsoon, leaving us alone to come out through the trials and tribulations,  but stronger on the other side.

Monsoon years can be hard.

They can be terrible, and feel never-ending.

They can be overwhelming even if they are not wholly terrible – sort of the “I am dancing as fast as I can” spot.

But I can tell you the one thing about monsoon years –

You come out different than  you were.

You mature and gain some wisdom and some empathy for yourself and others, if you let yourself.

If you feel yourself growing bitter just because life has been unfair (it often is),  you have to do the work, pull yourself up, because it’s probably time.

If someone left you in your time of need, know that there will be other people.  Wonderful people.  Know that love is there and around and on its way to you.  Know also, that in long term relationships, marriages, partnerships, and parenting, rocky points happen.  It’s fairly inevitable.  The question is what you choose to do with it.

If you are having a monsoon year, I am sending you love. It’s hard, but it will end.  It will get better and you are doing a great job with where you are right now in this moment.

Blessings,

Carrie

 

 

 

Glowing February

February can be a hard month for many people living in cold and dark climates and where it seems as if winter is dragging on forever.  I like to think of February as a month of illumination and light, which helps me counteract the darkness and think of February as a month of celebrating all kinds of love and light in the world.

This month we are celebrating:

Black History Month – Of course Black History IS World history and American history and should be in every subject we teach every month, but it’s also wonderful to take a renewed look at wonderful books and biographies this month.  Watch @theparentingpassageway IG and The Parenting Passageway Facebook page for our library hauls this month

February – Mardi Gras! (until Lent, of course)

February 2 – Candlemas

February 14 – St. Valentine’s Day (you can see this post about Celebrating Valentine’s Day in the Waldorf Home

February 17- Presidents Day

February 26- Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent  (try this post about Lent from last year with lots of links and ideas:  Lent – Pilgrimage of the Soul )  (and I am very excited to read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2020 Lenten book selection)

Lovely things to do with children this month:

Make Valentine’s Day cards; plan little treats and crafts for Valentine’s Day; make window transparencies; dip candles; roll candles; play board games or card games with your children;  draw, paint, model; whittle wood; make popcorn together; bake together; play in the snow – build snow forts; have snowball fights; snowshoe; downhill or cross country ski;  ice skate on a pond; read and tell stories; build forts inside; take a walk outside in the cold – look for animal tracks or berries or birds or all of the above; knit, crochet, cross stitch, finger knit, spin, sew; sing and make music together – learn some new songs; clean, scrub, dust, work around the house – rearrange furniture; go bowling or find an indoor swimming pool to swim in; write letters to family and friends; write stories together; snuggle on the coach with hot chocolate and marshmellows; cook for a neighbor; find a place of worship to attend and get involved; throw a party; clicker train your dog, cat, or other animal; take care of plants; start seeds indoors when it it is time, grow sprouts in the kitchen or a little microgarden.

Thoughts about Homeschooling:

This is the month I find myself thinking about plans for the fall.  I think I often get a little bored and restless this time of the year – maybe you do too!  This could be a great month for skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, surfing if you live somewhere you can do that or swimming – in other words, break the rhythm up with physical activity outside.  It can be really helpful!

Waldorf homeschooling is intensive and difficult at times. It requires a lot of planning and a lot of ourselves as teachers, so I think we should be easy with ourselves, especially in February and especially when we have all very young children close in age or large spans of ages, it can be a complete struggle to meet everyone’s needs.  I understand why people drift away from Waldorf homeschooling to unschooling, or to field trip/road trip schooling or something where you can combine more as opposed to Waldorf.  I have zero judgement about that.  I also understand why those who love Waldorf Education sometimes move to an area where they have a Waldorf school available. I think we need to be easy on ourselves and find what rejuvenates us, and to be honest and real when teenagers are older and the homeschool season is just changing.  For some families it doesn’t change, and that is great, but for many families there can be a lot of guilt and angst about switching either homeschooling methods or educational choices in middle and high school. It’s okay that things don’t stay the same if that is what the child or family needs.  Our job is to prepare our children for the future in the right time and in the right manner for that child.  They need to be functional adults!

My own little homeschooling corner of the world:

Our fourth grader finished a block on Norse Myths and now we are into a block I designed on Birds of Prey since that is a main interest.  Our high school freshmen is  still at a hybrid school, and our high school senior is finishing up the year with acceptances at all the universities applied to with scholarship money – so now we just have decisions to make about the best place to attend, which is a lovely place to be.

I would love to hear from you about your plans for February!

Blessings,

Carrie

Fifth Grade Homeschool Planning

Our youngest is going to be a FIFTH GRADER in the fall!  It doesn’t seem possible that we will have a high school graduate/college attendee, a high school sophomore, and a fifth grader this year! So exciting!

Fifth grade is one of my favorite years in the Waldorf curriculum and I can’t wait to tackle it for the third time!  I have an idea of approaching it in a different way in the past, and have essentially divided the curriculum by semester.  This is because I fully understand the  developmental reasons and anthroposophical reasons that the main stream of fifth grade in a Steiner School is the consciousness found developing though the Ancient Civilizations covered, but I always grappled with having to fit in North American Geography as well.  I felt that as an American, Ancient Africa and the Ancient Americas were not fully represented,and that  this was a disservice children. And yes, there is time for this in further grades in middle school and high school, but I was still bothered by it.

So this year I am doing things a bit differently and sort of dividing things into two semesters where we spend almost an entire semester on the North American geography part of the curriculum and a semester on Ancient Civilizations in the manner of most Waldorf fifth grades around the world.

August – North American Geography/Social Studies – Mexico and Central America, stories of the Olmec and the Maya ; Math Review in practice sessions

September – Botany; practice sessions devoted to freehand geometry

October – Math/Practice of Decimals and Fractions; Metric System using Canadian Geography –  3 weeks

November/December – Language Arts – The Stories of Hawaii – American Geography – The West, Southwest, Midwest, and Alaska

 

January – North American Geography – Great Lakes Region, Northeast, Southeast

February – Stories of Ancient Civilizations – 7 weeks, including Ancient Africa and the Nahua and Aztec as similar to Egptyian consciousness – see the book “Riddle of America” at the Waldorf Library On-Line for more about this

March – Botany

April – Greek Mythology

May – Greek History; practice sessions gardening and math

I am really looking forward to planning this out in detail.  I will be happy to share these blocks for sale once we have gone through them and of course look for notes for these blocks here on the blog, as well as previous posts from when I went through these blocks two other times!

Blessings,

Carrie

January Love

Outside of the current situation of grey and rainy weather with flooding, I love January.  First of all, the bright and shiny New Year beckons to me with goals, lists, my word of the year (#radiant) and dreaming fun.  Second of all, I love the more introverted vibe of this season – nesting with blankets and hot drinks and inside fun, but still being able to go outside for a walk in the rain or bright sunshine with colder temperatures!    I am always delighted with the possibility and prospect of snow as well.

These are a few of the things we are enjoying this month:

  • Daily walks rain or shine
  • Puzzles and board games
  • Green smoothies
  • Exercising a lot
  • Going out as a couple – hope to get away for a few overnights alone this year ❤ and getting ready to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary in May
  • Opting outside daily
  • Playing with our horses and dreaming of the show season to start again
  • Baking
  • Indoor microgardening!  So fun – and having bulbs blooming in the house

Decluttering the entire house – we have done closets and drawers and the garage.  It’s so freeing to let things go!

These are the things we are celebrating:

  • January 1 – New Year’s Day
  • January 6– The Feast of Epiphany and Epiphanytide that stretches until Lent begins on February 26 this year.
  • January 21 – Martin Luther King, Jr Day –Martin Luther King is also celebrated January 15 and April 4 in The Episcopal Church
  • Janaury 18– The Feast Day of St. Peter
  • Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
  • January 25 – The Feast Day of St. Paul

Some fast ideas for fun things to do with children:  Cut out paper snowflakes, including really cool 3-D snowflakes; dip candles; roll candles; play board games or card games with your children;  draw, paint, model; whittle wood; make popcorn together; bake together; play in the snow – build snow forts; have snowball fights; snowshoe; downhill or cross country ski;  ice skate on a pond; read and tell stories; build forts inside; take a walk outside in the cold – look for animal tracks or berries or birds or all of the above; knit, crochet, cross stitch, finger knit, spin, sew; sing and make music together – learn some new songs; clean, scrub, dust, work around the house – rearrange furniture; go bowling or find an indoor swimming pool to swim in; write letters to family and friends; write stories together; snuggle on the coach with hot chocolate and marshmellows; cook for a neighbor; find a place of worship to attend and get involved; throw a party; clicker train your dog, cat, or other animal; take care of plants; start seeds indoors when it it is time

On the homeschooling front, I ordered a cap and gown for our senior this weekend.  She is graduating on May 16.  We are super proud of her and are excited about what the future holds for her at college (we don’t have a decision yet as some college don’t send out acceptances until February, but she has gotten back all acceptances so far from the ones that send out earlier).  Our high school freshman is still at her hybrid school (four days a week) and is re-enrolling for her sophomore year.  And our little fourth grader is still at home homeschooling – we have Norse Myths coming up in January, Birds of Prey in February, Math in March, Earth, Air, Wind, and Fire in April (soul food tales from The Golden Stag by I. Wyatt) and finishing with African Tales (tales from the San, tales from the Bantu people, Yoruba myths) in May.  So excited about planning fifth grade! I already have a skeleton framework in my head and will be doing it differently than I have ever done it before.  🙂

I am starting up my business in January as well – home health pelvic floor physical therapy and lactation!  So that is new and exciting, and of course I still have the rest of my clinical doctorate to finish by December 2020.

Most of all, I am excited to have fun – 2019 was busy and fun with many new wonderful friends, and I am hopeful 2020 will be more of that! We started a #gratitudejar where we put a little note in for anything that brings you joy or feeling thankful and we already have so many things to be grateful for.

I would love to hear your January plans!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

Bright and Shiny New Year

I love the prospect of a New Year, of new beginnings and bright shiny pages in my planner, the feeling of being able to begin again, fresh and new.  I hope this New Year feels like a welcome new beginning to you and your family.

This is the beautiful blessing I often share on the New Year:

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours.

-From an Old Irish Blessing, author unknown

May this year be the one in which you are ENOUGH just the way you are.

May this year be the one in which you are content.

May this year be the one where you are loved as richly as you deserve.

May this year be one of bountiful and deep friendships, beautiful family memories, and love.

May this year be the year that you help someone else, the year of your generous spirit blossoming.

May this year be the one that is perfect for you and where you are in life and may you enjoy it abundantly.

Many blessings for a peaceful New Year with new beginnings of nourishment and love.

With love to all, thank you for over ten years of marvelous readership and I hope to have much to offer you in 2020.

Carrie

“Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles”: When The Struggles Are More Than Normal

I think we all go through periods in our parenting where we wonder if we are meeting our child’s needs or how that child or teen’s future will look. However, sometimes we may just have times where we feel very much as if the power struggles in our homes are beyond “normal” (whatever that means). Chapter 12 in “Kids, Parents, and Power Struggles,” author Mary Sheedy Kurcinka writes on page 199, “Everyone has suggestions for you.  If you’d just be tougher or provide more structure, they advise, but you already feel like you’re a drill sargeant living in a book camp.  Even professionals have minimized your concerns, assuring you it’s just a stage.  But you know in your gut it’s not.  Your child is dealing with something more than temperament or normal development. “

If, despite doing everything “right” your “bad” days with power struggles are far outweighing your “good” days, then trust your gut that says there is something more going on.  For many children, this can be medical issues that just haven’t been diagnosed.  Your child isn’t out to get you or to make your life miserable or trying to be lazy or sabotage themselves or the family.  Your child needs you to believe them and be their advocate.  The chapter in this book  talks plainly about AD/HD, sensory integration dysfunction, language and speech problems, anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, autism spectrum disorder, attachment disorders, encorpresis, and I would add PANS/PANDAS to this list along with bipolar disorder.

The author talks about getting help, which I often find in the United States that the level of help often varies by state and some states have higher levels of specialists than others; how to get a thorough evaluation, and how to focus on your child, because your child is much more than a label.  Your child is a child first and foremost, a unique and wonderful person with gifts and talents.

Chapter 13 of this book talks about stressed-out kids.  A family’s stress levels highly correspond with a child’s stress level.  Kids don’t say they are hurting, they are grieving, they are mourning, they are missing someone, they feel insecure.  Instead they throw tantrums, they shadow you, they have toileting accidents or issues with food or sleep. Lethargy, apathy, disrupted sleep, falling apart over small things can all be signs that the stress level is just too high for that child.  Even happy things such as holidays, birthday parties, school being out for the summer can cause regressions and behavioral troubles.

Connecting and loving your child is always, always, always the first step.  Small children may not be able to name their feelings well up until about age 9, but you as the adult can often figure out how your child is feeling. You know your child better than anyone!  Rhythm helps immensely in helping children weather stress within the family, along with such rituals as eating dinner as a family, connecting during the week with special things, and looking at your child’s extroversion and introversion levels (what would feel connecting to them given their personality and temperament?)  We can teach older children to recognize their stress levels and how to take breaks; teenagers should be able to take a mental health day from school when they need.  Older children should be able to name their feelings and come up with ways to cope and we as families should be able to offer support and caring.

Most of all, what most children need, whether they have medical issues leading toward power struggles or stressful events going on, is for us as adults to SLOW DOWN.  It is plenty for many children to just go to school and come home and be with the family. This is especially true if they are under high school aged. They need models for slowing down, for taking life in stride, for self-care and nurturing. These are the tools that will help them most as an adult.  If you are looking for more on that topic, I did an entire book study chapter by chapter on “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne.  You can see the first post in that series here  and all the posts for that series will come up if you use the search box.

I would love to know what you thought about these two chapters.

Blessings and love,
Carrie