Entitled Children?

Entitlement is another one of those words thrown around these days without much sense of what it really means, kind of like the words “adulting” or “toxic” (you can see my back posts on these words).

Entitlement,to me, is not only necessarily is a lack of work ethic, because that usually is what people mean when they say someone is entitled – they didn’t/don’t have to work and everything is handed to that person.  I don’t think that is the whole picture.

The definition of entitlement, at least according to Webster’s Dictionary is:   the belief that one is deserving of  or entitled to certain privileges. The world “entitle” itself is having proper grounds to seek or claim something.

To me,  entitlement often begins in childhood and  is that feeling that the world owes us because we had a terrible childhood OR we had the most special childhood ever that should continue indefinitely.  It seems to come from a place of lack of self-awareness, and often a true ignorance of how people around are affected by this attitude.  Entitlement is often a sheer ignorant selfishness that later in life goes on to destroy families and the next generation of children if the adults of the family continue to hold on to this.

One antonym of “entitlement” is actually “disqualify.”  So, if we don’t want to entitle someone, we want to disqualify him or her? I am not sure that is what we mean either.  Perhaps instead of thinking of “disqualifying”our children, we can look at other options:

Raise children who are empowered in the struggle of life, and who are not victims.  There are true and legitimate unjust social structures in this world; there are true victims in this world.  Many people I know, however,  who think they are victims  of everything and everyone in life are this way because they believe they are so special that only good things should happen to them, and that there should be no struggle.  We can choose our response and own it. As our children grow older, it is important that they experience the natural consequences of their actions.  This is much harder to watch in teens than in three year olds, but it is part of maturation and growing up.  Guiding an older teen (15/16 change and up) is much different than controlling so nothing bad happens to that teen.

Raise children who know life is up and down and that’s okay. Very few things in life are linear and without struggle and effort.   I have this little picture on my desk; I am sure many of you have seen it somewhere along the way. The top shows a bicyclist traveling a straight line to an end flag (a goal). which is our vision, and the  bottom half of the page shows reality of trying to reach a goal with  the same cyclist and the road is marked with mountains and valleys to get to the end flag.  Struggle is real and honest.

Help your children be resilient. It is okay for them to wrestle, struggle, work hard, and fail.  In fact, it is imperative.  It is important to know that sometimes we do work hard and we fail anyway.  Hard work doesn’t mean we won’t fail. So, in that note…

Teach your children failure is okay.  Teach a growth mindset where children know that failure can be one step closer to success;  a mistake can turn into a success.  Look at all the wonderful inventions that started as “mistakes.” I think starting with the twelve year change, we should be talking about growth mindset directly, we should be talking about stress management directly. I usually start in seventh grade.  If you are Waldorf homeschooling, the physiology block is a nice place to start to work some of this in and then to use growth mindset and mindfulness techniques daily as part of your warm-up for school.

Raise children who know the special of ordinary.  Movies and mass media tend to depict life as a series of highs; one event must top the next in an ever-ascending spiral.  This is not life.  Life is full of ordinary, quiet, mundane, and there is joy in that.  It is not your job to give your children sheer magic every minute of every day.  Being bored is okay too. Having regular is okay.  Finding joy in quiet is okay.

Train responsibility.  In this day and age, that can be harder than it seems.  There are very few things that “have” to be done for survival anymore  as far as chores (ie, few of us have to haul water or get food ready for winter).  Many teens in the United States are no longer even  getting summer jobs, (see back posts about this), which used to be a great place to learn responsibility outside the family.  Structure the environment so some things HAVE to be done before pleasure.  We expect small children to weave in and out of work in the Early Years, but we should expect a teenager to have much more  responsibility than a small child.

Train accountability.  Accountability is being responsible for one’s own actions.  This can be particularly important for teens and the area of social media.  Watch how your teens treat friends,  watch how your teens treat their younger siblings or those younger in general. Watch how they treat themselves.  Remember what integrity really means, and intervene as needed.  Many teens need guidance.

Volunteer together; explore together the fact that life is not equal nor fair and what this means in terms of our response to humanity.  Empathy for others and a feeling of responsibility for the least among us  may be the biggest turning point against what we term “entitlement.”   

Don’t enable or rescue.  There comes a point when kids really do have to take the boundaries and structures that have been in place and start to internalize these things and carry it as their own, and they only learn this through practice. If you child can do something, don’t do it for them.

Help them learn to deal with conflict.  Not many people love conflict, but life is not conflict-free and learning how to not only set boundaries, to  be assertive but kind, fair, able to take responsibility for one’s own actions, and to ask for and give forgiveness is part of this conflict resolution.

Do give your children love, attention, encouragement, and laughter.  That is the foundation of health, and the foundation that your grandchildren will build upon.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

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Discussions With Teachers- Discussion One

This lecture was part of the afternoon sessions given to the teachers of the very first Waldorf School.   Steiner begins this lecture talking about the important of the relationship to the children and notes, “The important thing for us to remember is the diversity of children and indeed that of all human beings.”  He goes on to talk about the four fundamental types of temperaments within the diversity of all human beings – the sanguine, the melancholic, the phlegmatic, and the choleric – and the four-fold development of the human being (the “I”, the astral body, the etheric body, and the physical body).  The development of the four-fold human being ties into the four temperaments, because the domination by one of the four bodies leads to a primary temperament type.  In this way, the dominance of the “I” leads to a melancholic temperament, the astral body dominance leads to the choleric temperament, the dominance of the etheric body to the sanguine, and the physical body leads to the phlegmatic temperament.

Steiner goes on the describe the four temperaments in this way:

  • Interested in different things but only for a short time and  quickly loses interest – sanguine
  • Inner reflection and brooding, active inwardly, not easy to give them impressions of the outer world – melancholic
  • Not actively inwardly but also no interest in the outer world (least amount of strength and attention)- phlegmatic
  • Expression of the will in a “blustering way”; strength of response and attention easily aroused – choleric

Steiner talks about how to group the children by temperament, which is of course, near to impossible in the home environment, but he gives wonderful examples of which temperament to turn to in order to illustrate particular lessons or to teach a certain way.  He also talks about how the teacher must develop their own attitude in dealing with different temperaments, and how the worst thing to do is to take the opposite qualities of one temperament and try to force this on the child.  Choleric and phlegmatic temperaments are opposite to one another, and melancholic and sanguine temperaments are opposite of one another; other temperaments are next to each other and therefore merge into one another (there is a diagram in this part of the lecture).  He talks about how by the tenth year the temperaments will be gradually “overcome.”  

Steiner  then talks about in the “main lesson ” portion of things:  the first year is mainly fairy tales, the second year animal life in story form (fables), the Bible as general history apart and different from religious lessons is the third year (and remember, teaching “religion” in a Waldorf School at that time was due to government requirements, not Steiner’s wishes), and then scenes from ancient (fourth class), medieval (5th class), and modern history (6th class), the discovery of different cultures within a country and  around the world (7th and 8th classes), and art lessons as training of the will. He also mentions the arts, gymnastics, eurythmy, drawing, and painting to all work on the will and how languages will be taught separate from the Main Lesson and how specialty teachers will be needed for the art subjects and the language lessons (so good for us to hear as homeschoolers!  We weren’t meant to do all the pieces of this!)    He talks about no more than three and a half hours of school per day (main lesson for hour and a half, telling of stories for half an hour, and then an hour for artistic work) up until the age of 12.  

As you can see, what is laid out by Steiner has been adapted into traditions by Waldorf Schools around the world, but these are the basic  indications that Steiner gave for what is to be taught in what grade and age.

More to come!

Blessings,
Carrie

Pulling Together The Bits and Pieces of Waldorf Planning

I am busy planning – most of second and seventh grade is done in  a fair amount of detail, although I will have to go over each block/week at a designated time each week or two during the school year and make sure I have ideas for what I want to do with the Main Lesson book.  My tenth grade planning is coming along slowly, but I hope to have a majority of it done by the end of the month.

One thing I have noticed this year is there are a lot of “moving parts” to this year.  I have started thinking in terms of, for example, second grade:

  • Second Grade Blocks
  • Second Grade math to run through the year
  • Second Grade language arts (mainly games)  to run through the year
  • Warm up/circle for  the year
  • Extra form drawing, wet on wet painting, crafts, nature to run through the year
  • Flute to run through the year
  • Things for my older two to do with my second grader each day to help

 

It seems like a lot to think about, especially when I have similar lists of things for seventh and tenth grade.

One thing that helps me corral these “separate lists” is to create templates and use them to fill things in so things are more harmonized and work together.  This was form I created and used back when I had two in the grades and a toddler.  Our days are much, much more full now due to having one child in middle school and one in  high school, but I think right now I have made template forms to create the second grade circle, a form for the warm up for seventh and tenth grade, and then structural forms for running three grades.  This year, with high school, middle school, and tenth grade this sort of daily template looks like this:

M T W Th  (circle day)   (some weeks have three days, some have four days)

Second Grader

  • Warm Up
  • Weather/Calendar
  • Number of Days of School, Number of the Day, Math Practice/Mental Math
  • Form Drawing (Mondays, unless a form drawing block)
  • Block work (includes all lively arts)
  • Weekly extras at end of lesson :Tuesdays Seasonal/Festival Painting, Wednesday Crafts/Handwork Projects
  • Nature Walk weekly during tenth grader’s  outside class

#2 Main Lesson Period (typically the seventh grader; varies on the day if it is the seventh or tenth grader – sometimes the Main Lesson is combined work)

  • Warm Up
  • Movement
  • Growth Mindset
  • Poetry/Speech Exercises
  • Math Review/Mental Math/Math Games or Puzzles
  • Block Work (includes all lively arts)
  • Help first grader  during other Main Lesson period: Mondays Reading Practice, Tuesdays Math Games, Wednesdays Extra Modeling tying in to nature studies, Thursdays Reading Nature Books

Main Lesson Period #3 (Tenth Grade typically)

  • Warm Up
  • Movement Games
  • Growth Mindset
  • Poetry/Speech Exercises
  • Math Review/Logic Puzzles/Math Games
  • Block Work (includes all lively arts)
  • Help Child #1 during other Main Lesson period:  Mondays Jump Rope Games, Tuesday Crafts, Wednesday Baking, Thursday Math Games

Other considerations:

  • Combination Writing (twice a week)
  • Combination 10th Grade Health/7th Grade Physiology (twice a week)
  • Combination Math Experiences (once a week)
  • Combination Theme each month with weekly meeting (once a week)

Once templates are made, it becomes easier to plug in verses, songs, art ideas, the content of a block into the template, or it can be easier to say, we can cook or garden for our warm up and movement on this day and then jump into block work.  The template provides the framework for the flexibility.

Hope this idea helps someone with their planning!

Blessings and love,
Carrie

 

July Menu Planning

Menu planning can feel so slack in the summer heat.  Not many feel like standing over a hot stove in the heat and here it is hot and humid.  I sure didn’t feel like cooking either, and felt like we were grilling a lot or having breakfast for dinner toward the end of June.

So, for July, I did a different way of menu planning than I ever have done before.  I took a piece of watercolor paper and divided it into four sections: breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks/desserts.  From there I just filled in recipes, and will choose from these dishes each week when I menu plan and grocery shop.

For breakfast, I have dishes to choose from such as:  tropical overnight oats, overnight oatmeal power bowl, black bean rancheros, veggie frittata, berry quinoa, or yogurt pancakes.

For lunch, I have mainly salad choices and bowls:  burrito bowl, bacon/egg/rice bowl, chicken and cucumber -tomato salad, kale caesar salad, slow cooker baked potatoes, or lime shrimp and avocado salad.

For dinner, I have grilled chicken and tomatillos, roasted tomatillo salmon, Cuban bison flank steak, slow cooker bean burritos, mojito pork,  and chili-spiced fish with roasted cabbage.

For desserts and snacks I have hard boiled eggs and raw veggies, zucchini banana flaxseed muffins, grilled bananas or crockpot chocolate molten cake.

Share with me what you are eating or planning to try in July!

Blessings,
Carrie

Boundaries and Toxic People

The other day I had a little post that talked about boundaries for older children.  A question came up regarding toxic people,  setting boundaries, and is it possible that this be done in a loving way.

Perhaps this question is a little out of my wheelhouse.  I am not a psychologist, and I am certain a psychologist would have better things to say than I on this subject.  However, because I think boundaries are such an important piece of being a healthy adult and something we should be working hard to model and guide our teenagers and children in establishing, I am willing to share my experience with this topic.  As always, if you need more help, there are many licensed psychologists and other mental health care professionals out there to help you!

One hears many definitions of “toxic people”.  Usually this alludes to behaviors or relationships caused by woundedness; usually this involves creating drama, infecting others with negativity, or being narcissitic, and using others to get their needs met.  To me, and again I am not a psychologist, my definition of a toxic person is that they cannot abide by boundaries in order to be in a healthy relationship with someone else; boundaries to me are key no matter the variety of behaviors displayed.  Therefore, because a toxic person cannot respect boundaries, by definition, there will be no truly “nice”   or “loving” way to limit the exposure of a toxic person to your family because the toxic person will have an excuse and will have a hard time respecting the boundaries that you set. So, establishing very strong boundaries or to even cutting the toxic person out of your life if you are in a situation where that is possible is often difficult, but I don’t think impossible, so long as  you don’t expect the toxic person to go along with it calmly!

From my experience, my  tried and true ways to deal with toxic people include:

Setting emotional distance.  You don’t have to answer every text, call, or email.  You can choose to only respond to facts or what needs a solution as opposed to all the barage of emotion and drama.

Not getting  into one- to -one situations with the toxic person.  There is safety in numbers.  Always have someone else with you for interactions with  truly toxic people.

Setting limits on negativity and complaining.

Setting a very close circle around me of positive people who have a firm grasp of reality and have different perspectives that help me see things clearly. 🙂

Letting go of guilt. Like many people, sometimes I want everyone to like me, and the reality is I am definitely not everyone’s cup of tea.  So letting go of that is important, and depending upon how old you are, you get more and more okay with that as you get older.  It is okay not to be liked, and especially by the toxic person, because in my experience many times a more toxic person will not like you if they cannot control you.

Not forgetting what the toxic person has done or the chaos that person caused.  Forgive the illness that consumes this person, but do not forget!   Sometimes I find toxic people seem to cycle in and out of creating emotional chaos, and it can be easy in the good moments to forget the emotional craziness the person created in the past.  I am all for growth and second chances, but in my experience, toxic people do not really change but only get better at manipulating and hiding motives with age.

Hope that not only helps answer the question, but also points out the value of boundaries in ourselves and raising our children to become healthy adults who can go on to have healthy families of their own. As always, consult your friendly local mental health care professional with your questions, as I can only share my personal experience.

Many blessings,
Carrie

Celebrating July

July is here!  Many summer it is so hot in the Deep South I feel as if we have lived in a pool since May and am tired of the wide open sun and heat, but this year has been quite rainy (after two years or so of drought!), so this year feels much less fatiguing.

July is the month of barbeques, picnics, camping, lakes and pools and river tubing.  It is a month of festive American celebrations and slowing down.  Here is what we will be celebrating this month:

July 4th – Independence Day!  The birth our nation!

July 22 – Feast Day of St. Mary Magdalene

July 25 – Feast Day of St. James the Apostle

July 26 – The Feast Day of St. Anne and St. Joachim

I am looking forward to sunflower festivals, catching fireflies, being in the pool and lake and at the beach.

Things to Do With Children:

  • Fourth of July decorating; patriotic crafts
  • Find traditional patriotic American music to listen to!
  • Sunflower crafts
  • Drying herbs and making things from herbs
  • Picking produce; canning and preserving
  • Earth looms and weaving could be lovely; see my summer Pinterest board for even more craft ideas

Things for the Home:

  • Going through the school room or school area and cleaning out
  • Ordering art supplies and new resources for the next school year
  • Making new seasonal things for the home
  • Changing out toys if you are on a toy rotation for smaller children

Homeschool Planning:

I am so happy to hear about so many homeschooling mothers attending in -person conferences!  There are currently conferences by held by Live Education, Christopherus, and Waldorf Essentials in-person (plus summers at places like Sunbridge and Rudolf Steiner College)  and an on-line conference focusing on Waldorf math by Jamie York of Making Math Meaningful.

My personal goals include having 75 percent of my planning done by the end of July. I have most of second grade planned out, but there were a lot of bits and pieces – math for the year, blocks, weekly activities like painting and crafts, and daily things for our older girls to do with our second grader. I still have circle time to plan, and music.  I have about half of seventh grade planned, and only about thirty percent of tenth grade.  The things we are doing in combination, including writing, project-based math, health/physiology, a monthly themed “block” that mainly is overlap between tenth and seventh grade are also pretty well mapped out at least.  Coming back with a roar for the fall! Hope you are getting some planning done as well.

I would love to hear your summer plans and what you are up to in July!

Many blessings,
Carrie

The Fifteen/Sixteen Change

In the world of Waldorf homeschoolers, there is a lot of press about the developmental changes surrounding the six/seven year old, the nine year old, and sometimes a little about the twelve year old.  However, the fifteen/sixteen year change is rarely mentioned on blogs or websites.  I guess there is no one left Waldorf homeschooling by then!

I have a back post on the sixteen year change,  and other back posts on the fifteen year old, but today I really wanted to focus on that transformation.  It could truly be THE most important developmental shift to occur for a child; I think because it catapaults the child into the more adult world than ever before.  And whilst this change has hints of the nine year change, I think it has its own dynamic and importance.

Here is why:  I see a lot of adults these days that are not very good at adulting.  The fact that we even have a term called “adulting” in the United States is probably a good indication that people are struggling with it.  Oh sure, we all struggle with it at times, and I think more because many of us have lost the sense of our elders and many of our families are fragmented, so being in our 20s- up to age 50 sometimes is fraught with more difficulties than ever before as there is no one to ask about our adult challenges!

So, I think this change is super important in this day and age.  Please, please, don’t hold your child back from this change by doing so much for them and denying them the consequences of their actions.  Please, please do give your more phlegmatic children who need a little push into more independence that push that they need.  Here are some things to consider:

Help structure your home so that your teens have freedom but also RESPONSIBILITY.  I see many parents jumping into the “freedom” part – no boundaries, a lot of handing things to their children that the teenager doesn’t have to work for – but little in the way of RESPONSIBILITY.  Summer jobs are going by the wayside, according to  this article  from June 2017 in The Atlantic.  Saving up to earn a car  is no longer done a lot.  I actually don’t think it is laziness, as some in the media have purported (which is something I think every generation since The Greatest Generation has probably said about the upcoming youngsters).  Life really is different today – from most of the jobs in my area that used to be held by teen now being held by retirees to the need to excel  in so many areas early to get into a “good college” – that teens have a different set of pressures than even twenty years ago.

Help your teen navigate this stress.  Some teens were published in the UK Guardian in March 2014 about how they feel about the world and the place of teenagers in it.  This absolutely could be the most incredible generation yet, but the stresses of the world seem to weigh more heavily upon this generation, just like it does upon us, because of the immediacy of social media and media in general.  The weight of events in countries far away seems just as impressive as the ones in our backyard.  It is a lot for us to handle, and it is a lot for teens to handle.

Help your teens learn boundaries.  The only way this can happen is if YOU have boundaries, and to help your teen not only by modeling but by helping them work with self-initiation, motivation, persistence, self-regulation,  and self-control. Many parents seem to struggle with this, so let me give you a little list as to why boundaries are important.  Adults with good boundaries can do things such as:

Listen to other people and respect other people’s “no’s” and feelings

Set limits on their own behavior or any impulses that would be self-destructive

Set limits on toxic people

Accomplish goals and tasks

Acheive healthy intimacy with othersBe honest with others

Can solve conflicts in a constructive way

Hopefully these skills will lead to not only a life of satisfaction and adventure and whatever the individual wants life to be, but also an ability to form relationships, lead a family in a healthy way, provide physically for themselves and a family, be open with their own gifts in helping humanity, and to be brave and courageous in dealing with personal matters and in situations of the world and societal structures where help  is needed.

Many blessings,

Carrie