I have written before about the really active, can-be-aggressive small child in several back posts of varying nature, but I had a few thoughts I wanted to share today. ( Please be sure to note I am dealing here with fiery temperaments, not especially with children dealing with sensory or developmental issues affecting behavior).
If you are struggling with a six year old who still seems rather “stuck” in immature behavior that involves physicality, I want to encourage you tonight. It doesn’t seem as if people really talk about this at all in parenting resources; it seems it is well- assumed that tantrums or any physical response to a limit is over by age three.
From what I have seen, six year olds can definitely still have a hard time controlling their hands, their emotions, their reactions, their physical responses and such. To those of us involved in Waldorf Education, this seems like of course! Has anyone ever read the book “Ramona The Brave” by Beverly Cleary? Here is a passage about fiery Ramona, six years old and in first grade at school, when she becomes completely angry at a classmate (for those of you who have not read this book it is a paper owl and Susan had copied what Ramona had done to make hers, which is why Ramona is angry in this chapter): Continue reading
I would love to hear your favorite stories that you tell to six year olds during the six year old Kindergarten year; leave your picks in the comment boxes.
I love those repetitive stories such as The Gingerbread Man, Chicken Licken, etc, but not to reach the heart and soul of the six year old. I truly think that for most six year olds, these tales are enjoyable (just as they are for we the adults!) but I am not certain these will meet the child’s needs if for he or she really is in the throes of real and distinct developmental change. If he or she is changing, really what is needed are stories with a little more “meat”, a little more good versus evil where good wins.
I hear about children who cannot handle fairy tales well; this does happen. I wrote about that here in 2009: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/08/16/what-do-i-do-my-child-cant-handle-fairy-tales/ You really CANNOT bring a tale to your child that does not resonate with you or that makes you uncomfortable, so do NOT pick that one. However, you can read a tale for two or three days, and really sleep on it and see what comes to you before you just dismiss it as well. I personally love nearly all the Grimms Tales, and am very comfortable with them, and I think that completely comes out in my storytelling.
So, without further ado, here are some stories we have enjoyed in my family in the past, or I have known families whose children enjoyed these tales; this list has my detailed notes as to each story: Continue reading
(7/16/2011 – Comments on this post are now closed! Thank you for all your comments and questions!)
Our guest post today comes from Donna Simmons of Christopherus Homeschool Resources (http://www.christopherushomeschool.org/home.html). This is a very comprehensive look at the topic of first grade readiness. This article includes her perspective as a Waldorf educator, but also as a parent and homeschooler, and includes a deep understanding of the foundation of Waldorf Education, but also includes more mainstream resources for those of you seeking those.
This article is long, but I encourage you to read all of it. Donna will be answering your questions left in the comment box in regards to this post, and we both look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Here is Donna….. Continue reading
Have you ever heard of a deconstructed salad? It is a salad that has all the components separately instead of mixed all together. For those “When Harry Met Sally” fans, it is kind of all “on the side.”
I think the six-year-old kindergarten year is a bit like that; sometimes we have to really analyze the separate components and tailor those components.
This last year of kindergarten need not be intense, but I think six- year -olds do need something “more”. And we are fortunate that in the home environment we able to meet our child where they are. Continue reading
I find many of the boys and more physically-oriented girls seem to enter an angry phase around the age of six. Door slamming, yelling, stomping of feet, true
Six-year-olds can become frustrated rather quickly, so rhythm and connection are so important. Modeling what you want to see, and ignoring what you can, is also important for this age.
One thing that seems to work exceptionally well for this phase is to make sure that this child is really getting their physical energy out – lugging, tugging, pushing, pulling, really working hard and sweating! Think of what physical projects you really could do together around the house or yard.
I think work also can work as restitution as well. If a six-year-old’s temper tantrum (and yes, six-year-olds can still have temper tantrums and other physical expressions of their anger) really disrupts the whole family’s rhythm and work, that child can work in practical ways to help you, with you, around the house in exchange for that time.
Anger and aggression are not the same things. If a six-year-old is being aggressive due to frustration and anger, then it is our job to step in and help that child through physical activity and restitution.
Parents have many questions about the developmental leaps of the six/seven year old. A few key points for this age:
- They are quick, physical and not especially deep thinkers.
- If they are getting into things you don’t want, they probably need to be busier.
- Six needs a ton of practical work and a ton being outside. Many times they will enjoy repetitive sensory experiences – sand, kneading bread, sifting, grating.
- Six doesn’t always get along with friends well, but being outside in nature is soothing. Six is happy to go to a creek and splash amongst the rocks.
- That being said, it is important that children in the five to seven year range have social experiences and opportunities. Some boys in particular do not do great in groups until the age of 7, but I think it is always helpful to lay that foundation.
- The six year old needs an authority in the home, a LOVING one, a CALM one, but an authority: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/11/19/preparing-for-the-sixseven-year-change-the-importance-of-boundaries/ and here: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/06/23/gentle-parenting-and-boundaries/ ….Go back and remember the steps of setting boundaries:
- “To me gentle parenting and boundaries involves several steps. The first step is to get clear with yourself as to what the values and rules are for your family. The second step is to figure out how you will hold this boundary in the moment, in a calm and unflappable way, and what are the tools you will use to help your child (hint: yelling is not a tool . ) And, what will you do if you feel as if you cannot hold the boundary anymore but you know you need to for your child’s sake? What is your plan? Third, what does your child learn from pushing against the boundary – what active ways do you have to help your child make restitution?”
- Figure out how to talk to your six year old. They don’t need a whole lot of information, to be honest. Here is a back post about talking to the seven and eight year old so you can see what is coming: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/26/how-to-talk-to-your-seven-and-eight-year-old/
- Some parents find the development a six or seven year old goes through really difficult; some children go through this phase and have a really hard time. You don’t have to like your child’s behavior, but you still have to connect with this child and you still have to love this child.
- Try speaking in pictures: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/04/01/talking-in-pictures-to-small-children/
- Peaceful living with the six year old: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/23/peaceful-living-with-the-six-year-old/
- Peaceful living with the seven year old: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/19/peaceful-living-with-your-seven-year-old/ and seven year old development: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/20/the-six-year-old-an-anthroposophical-view/ https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/18/your-super-seven-year-old-traditional-and-anthroposophical-views-of-development-part-two/ and Part One of that: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/18/the-snazzy-six-year-old/ and https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/02/your-super-seven-year-old-traditional-and-anthroposophical-viewpoints-part-one/
I highly suggest you go back to all of these back posts for review as these will most likely cover some of these questions:
For more about the intricacies of peer relationships at this age: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/02/05/peer-relationships-for-the-six-to-eight-year-old/
Favorite books for gentle discipline to inspire you: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/11/27/favorite-books-for-gentle-discipline/
Potty words: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/12/20/how-to-handle-potty-talk-in-small-children/
A review of my favorite book for the six/seven year change: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/19/a-book-for-parents-of-the-five-to-seven-year-old/
From about five and a half onward, the six/seven year transformation is a time of change. It is can be an overwhelming but profound period for children. Children at this time are working out of not just imitation, but also with short, simple and clear phrases. They need to be supported by speaking in pictures to them, not intellectually, and by setting strong boundaries.
During this time, many children often experience the need to be the boss. A “bossy” six year old is pretty typical of this age. (Alhough I personally think if the child was spoken to as a little adult and given a myriad of choices from early on the bossiness in the six and eight year old years is probably worse than in children who were not parented that way).
My favorite book on this subject is “You’re Not The Boss of Me: Understanding the Six/Seven Year Transformation” as edited by Ruth Ker and available through Waldorf booksellers.
Here are some ways to best support your child in this challenging phase:
- Do your own inner work and personal development. Your authority and your calm response to things, whether it is door slamming or saying “I hate you, Mommy!” is really, really important. They do not have equilibrium in this stage and you must have it for them.
- Matter of fact responses are best: “Teacher (Mommy) knows the lay of the land.” “This is my job to help you.” “You may do x”
- Don’t forget though, that movement and imagination and speaking in pictures still predominates – no lectures, no intellectual debates, no reasoning.
- Focus more on what you do want, rather than the behavior that is challenging you. Help guide the child and cue them to what you want.
- A strong rhythm is important, even if they are fighting against it. You do the things in your rhythm.
- Practical work is paramount at this time as the children are in a crisis in play. You may need to sit down and plan longer projects, and really figure out where they can help alongside of you. Here is a great article regarding work in the Waldorf Kindergarten written by an Atlanta colleague and friend, Karen Smith: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/purposefulwork%20doc.pdf
- Assisting younger children is also helpful
- Loving authority and boundaries—authority is demonstrated through knowing how to do something and through our calm and unruffled presence.
- Manners are another way to provide form and boundaries for children. Manners are very important to bring to the child gradually, through modeling, through treating the child respectfully. Here is a lovely blog post from over at Christopherus pertaining to small children and manners: http://christopherushomeschool.typepad.com/blog/2008/03/helping-little.html
- Spending time in nature so the child can soak in quiet impressions is important.
- Sleep, rest, warming foods are anchors for the day.
- Love your child, be with your child, enjoy your child.