Three Steps in Dealing With Challenging Behavior

There probably have been complaints about children and teen’s behavior as far back in time as one can imagine!   In light of behavior that is less than desirable and is repeating, I think there are three main steps to take as a parent in dealing with this behavior head-on:

  1.  Ask yourself if this is normal behavior for this age?   Many parents have expectations that are far beyond their child’s age and need to be reassured this is part of childhood maturation.  We are losing perspective on this in American society rapidly.
  2. If it is normal behavior for the age, but it is still making the family full of tension, ask yourself how you will guide it with boundaries so your family can live in harmony? 

a.  For a young children under the age of 7, guide with the principles of rhythm carrying things (lack of sleep, hunger, thirst, etc doesn’t help any behavioral situation!), songs and pictorial speech to move things along, and the child making reasonable restitution for what isn’t going well.  If you determine things aren’t going well due to a lot of stress and hurriedness in the family, try to decrease the amount of stress. Look carefully and listen to what the child in front of you  is telling you, but do balance that with the needs of the family.

b.  For the child ages 9-13, guide with the ideas of rhythm and restitution in mind, and rules of your family and of life in general – how do we treat each other in kindness; how do we treat ourselves and others.  Listen carefully to what your child is saying, but also state the expectations and boundaries firmly and kindly.   Go in with the idea that these things will need to be worked on 500 times or more to stick.  If things in the family are super stressful for varying reasons, consider simplifying and also adding in techniques for dealing with stress for the whole family.

c.  If the child is 14-18, guide with the ideas of family rules in mind, and consequences and restitution.  A teen can vacillate widely from seeming very mature to seeming very young and immature, and it is important to remember that the teenaged brain is not yet fully developed.  You must still be there to guide, and you are not at the “friend” stage of parenting.   Teenagers still want boundaries, limits, and a guide.

3.  If the behavior is not normal for the age...

a.  Is it quirky  behavior and being exacerbated by stress and hurriedness? Simplify things and see if things improve.

b. Is it truly not appropriate behavior and not responding to anything you do?  Then you may need professional help  through family therapy or other behavioral intervention.

c. If you are a homeschooling family, do not assume that going to school will make things better.  I think kids who are having problems at home often will have problems at school unless the family is so chaotic they will function better in a more structured environment. But if the child themselves is really  having problems stemming from themselves, they will have problems across environments.

Just a few thoughts,



The Sanguine Child

Steiner talked about four temperaments he observed in children and how to use that for benefit in the classroom setting.  The four types are phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine, and melancholic.  The goal is to have all the temperaments integrated by adulthood!

So, today we are talking about the sanguine temperament.  I love sanguine children, and find they are so needed within the social mix of a classroom or group of friends!  They are the ones that can bridge all the social groups and cliques within a group, pull out the shy children, connect children together who otherwise would never talk together, and otherwise bring beauty and fun to a room!

The sanguine child is often full of noticing and observing.  These children will notice if you look tired or if you wear a different pair of earrings or what really happened to the little bird that had a nest in the bush outside the door.  They often have a million observations and it is so fun to hear!

The downside of the sanguine child is for all their noticing, sometimes they can be just indifferent (okay, yes, and a little shallow)  socially as they flit to the new best friend and drop their old friend like a hot potato.  They really need social help sometimes to see that they hurt someone’s feelings or the pattern they are leaving in their wake.  This is particularly important during the middle school and early high school years leading up to the 15/16 year change.  Don’t just let them go without any kind of an eye on what they are creating socially.  Many sanguine children do seem loyal on the surface, because they are the ones to remember birthdays and find out how things are with their friends, but often lack the deep skills to solve conflicts well or repair relationships in the preteen or teen years and need some guidance.

As mentioned above, the sanguine child  often is the one to remember festivals, birthdays, and holidays.  They can be very organized in terms of festivals and holiday celebrations and in making everything beautiful.  Outside of those occasions,  they may  need help following things through.  So, when your sanguine child begins something (okay, 20 somethings :))  do help them follow through and make priorities  in picking the “best” idea out of the many ideas.  It is easy to begin things or think of a million ideas; it is not always so easy to bring things to fruition.   Contrary to popular belief,  sanguine chidlren can be deep thinkers.  However, they do need help to not just flit onto the next thing.  I think sometimes in the home environment we need to do a better job with our sanguine children in assigning things and helping them complete it and turn it in, especially from fourth or fifth grade and up, and certainly in middle school and high school.

The sanguine needs help with consistency; whether this be sticking to a rhythm or finishing projects or following through.  This has to do with ignoring the impulse to jump around to the next thing that would be more fun!  Starting things is fun!  Helping them do this will help them grow up into a balanced adult.

I would love to hear your experiences with the sanguine child!


Joyful June

May was kind of an end of the year whirlwind for us, and so I am so happy to have June arrive.  The world is bursting with green, the lakes and streams are overflowing, the days are humid and hot, there is sunshine and rain.   The days are long and full of sunshine, and everyone is happy to be out in the hot sun and in the water.

Our goals this lazy month include being outside and in the lake and pool as much as possible; to have picnic dinners; to finish up some medical appointments for the children, and to generally have as much fun as a family as possible.  The adults are hoping for some wonderful child-free time this month and some dates; we are all  hoping to move and  exercise a lot this month and just enjoy that feeling of being alive and the sense of growth and throwing off the stagnation of winter. In other words,  celebrating the slow summer.

This month we are celebrating:

Major feasts/holidays:

9- St. Columba – there is a little story here and we will make a little moving watercolor picture with a boat and dove

11 – Feast of St. Barnabas – St. Barnabas was an encourager, so I am thinking along the lines of having a family night with games and fun and encouraging each other and really celebrating us as a family. I have a number of photographs of our family we never framed and hung, so that could be another project!

14- Flag Day

17- Father’s Day

21 – Summer Solstice

24 – The Nativity of St. John the Baptist/ St. John’s Tide (see this back post for festival help!)

29- The Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul

Minor feasts we will celebrate mainly through stories:

12- St. Enmegahbowh – first Native American priest in the Episcopal Church of The United States

19- Sahu Sundar Singh of India- I found a book here

22- St. Alban – an interesting You Tube video filled with giant puppets to celebrate St. Albans Day in England!

(here is the aside note about these feast days: – I have had a few folks ask me about the Calendar of Saints in the Episcopal Church…The Episcopal Church USA is part of the Anglican Communion, which is an international association of churches composed of the Church of England and national (such as Canada, Japan, Uganda, for example) and regional (collections of nations) Anglican churches.  Each province, as it is called, is autonomous and independent with its own primate and governing structure.  So, different feast calendars within the Anglican Communion share the Feast Days and Fast Days listed in the Book of Common Prayer, but there may be “lesser feasts and fasts” as well.  The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York are our “primus inter parus” (first among equals) but hold no direct authority outside of the England, but is instead a force of unity, vision, persuasion,  for the entire Communion.  We don’t really govern off of creeds, for example such as the Westminster Catechism in Presbyterianism, but find “the law of praying is the law of believing” and therefore The Book of Common Prayer is our way.  The Anglican Communion has in it elements of the Reformation and Anglo-Catholicism, depending upon the individual parish, but it is not “Catholic Lite”.  It has a distinctive Celtic way to it as that was what was established long before alignment with the West.  We pray for the unity of the Church (the whole of Christendom) and therefore “Anglicans have preferred to look for guidance to the undivided church, the church before it was divided by the Reformation and especially to the first centuries of the church’s life….to “tradition”, the worship, teaching and life of the church in its early days.” (page 65, Welcome to the Episcopal Church by Christopher Webber. Hope that helps!! ))

Ideas for Celebrating June:

  • Here we are going to the lake and pool, gardening, camping, going to water and splash parks, kayaking, and mini golf!
  • Blueberry Picking – Strawberries are about done where we are, but blueberries are coming soon
  • Try out different popsicle and cold drink recipes
  • Gardening – especially with an eye to our friend the bee
  • Hunt fireflies at night
  • Stay up and gaze at the stars
  • Have bonfires and camp fires and make s’mores
  • Go camping or camp in your backyard
  • Summer  puppet theater outside! Shadow puppets!
  • Lavender!  We are making soap with lavender!
  • Celebrating nature!

Back posts about summer that you might enjoy:

Celebrating Summer With Small Children: A Waldorf Perspective

Joyous Summers With Children

Summer stories and the summer nature table

Summer reading with “Set Free Childhood”

Keeping The Slow Summer With Younger Teens

A Summer Parenting Project For You (2010)

For Homeschool Planning:

Re-reading “Discussions With Teachers”

Building Your Homeschooling Around Rest

Can’t wait to hear what you are up to!







Choleric Children

Temperaments of children can be some of the most interesting and misunderstood parts of parenting and teaching children.  Choleric children can be challenging in the home environment!   Sometimes I feel as if in the home environment, we provide a plus to the choleric as it can cut down some of the frustration level.  This back blog post from Waldorf Parents talks about how choleric children often don’t like clothes; crayons melt in their hands; they dive into things.  These things are  easily accommodated at home.  Cholerics often need alone time and indepedence, which are also accommodated well at home.

The harder part of being at home with a choleric child is that I think unless other family members are choleric, it is harder for the “edges” to be rubbed off  so to speak.  In the classroom in a Waldorf School, children are often grouped by temperament.  Cholerics do the best job softening  each other just in the way they all act together.  What I often find in the home environment is that the choleric enters and sometimes is the only one of that temperament in the whole family.  Sometimes the parents have no idea how to meet the choleric, and things that work with other temperaments often don’t work well  with choleric children.

Choleric children, like all children, take patience.  They will blow up, fall apart, scream, be physical – and the best thing you can do is  be calm.  Firm, calm boundaries and expectations  are a true necessity to help this child learn to be the master of him or herself.  Speaking less words and not getting in the middle of a meltdown is best.   Make sure the child is safe, and that you are safe, but cholerics usually blow through their anger and frustration fast and explosively.  With time they  learn how to control their emotions better so it doesn’t come out in such a bodily tornado!  After they have come down off of their moment, gentle connection is key.  Older children may even be embarrassed.  Humor, connection and then restitution, firm boundaries,  and expectations are a must.  You must become an adult balanced choleric yourself in a way to model and show that.   And that takes a lot of time, energy, and persistence on the part of the parent. You have to run the race next to a choleric!

After a large physical outburst, having a choleric child make restitution physically is the best way to help them.  Long speeches about their behavior rarely seems to help “prevent a next time” – what prevents a “next time” is to make sure this child has plenty of physical exertion and exercise and work, a way to fix what they have done wrong, and a short sentence or two about their reaction after they have calmed down.

Meaningful work is so important for this temperament, along with encouraging following through and finishing. Sometimes choleric children have the best ideas, the best start, can really rally people around, the best leadership   – but lose heart somewhere along the way to the concluding outcome unless they have a bit of phlegmatic in them.  Helping them see things through when they are younger can be helpful, along with activities that have a steady in-breath and out-breath to them.  These types of things can help an individual develop into a balanced choleric.

Choleric children are needed.  They are our future leaders and can develop into fair and equitable adults who have hearts of gold for all kinds of wonderful causes.  Help them steady themselves through their storms.




Creating A Peaceful Home Amidst Conflict

I get a lot of email about sibling fighting between siblings of all different age gaps (they are two years apart, they are six years apart – the age gap doesn’t seem to matter nor what gender the children are!), and also email concerning smaller children who are physically running at their parent, yelling at their parent, etc.  You might think, well, that’s not my children!  Well, great!  However, I find many children, and actually many times children, especially those who feel anxious or angry or generally passionate about things have a harder time handling their big emotions.  So, if your children are super calm and you never had to deal with any of this, it may be more of a temperament or personality thing on the part of your child, along with your parenting!

I think there are several step to helping gain peace amidst conflict in the home, whether the confict is child and parent or child to child.

  1. Figure out what your boundaries are. What will or will you not have in your home?  You cannot just let things go along and then snap because suddenly after the twentieth time your child or the children together do something, you feel upset about it.  If it is your boundary, you must have a plan to act on the behavior  that crosses this boundary every single time.  Decide what is big and what is small – it cannot ALL be big.  Let some of it go, but don’t let all of it go.  You are the parent and the guide to help your child.  Your child is going to try things on; help them figure out which garment should stick.
  2.  Do your best to set the right stage.  A steady rhythm, a life that is not rushing from one thing to the next, making sure the children and yes, even teens,  are rested and fed is really important and have had physical exercise.  Limit the screens if you don’t already. Too much screen time seems to make all people cranky!  Where is your self-care?  We cannot do this without self-care.  Exercise is usually the number one thing mothers tell me that helps them handle their children better.  It is a priority!
  3. IN THE MOMENT:  Calm yourself.  It is much easier when children are older to leave the room, step outside, etc.  and take a moment.  It is harder when children are younger because they may be screaming, hitting, kicking, trying to climb up you in their frustration.  Sometimes just sitting down and holding a child through that can help if you are comfortable with that.  Sometimes just scooping up a small child and being together on the grass outside helps.  Some families do look at helping their children sit down next to them in a cozy spot they have set up for just these occasions.  Tiny children will  need your physical presence to calm down; older children should be able to calm down without you physically holding them.  Time in together and calm down.  Do NOT attempt to talk about what just happened.  No one is ready.  Take this conflict and your reaction into your inner work that night. Why is this so hard for you to keep your cool when this happens? What is the fear undernearth your reaction if you are not calm?
  4.  When everyone is calm, connect.  Talk about what happened simply.  If your child is tiny, under the six/seven change, you may approach this more from a simple statement, a picture of what happened (“Your car (the child himself)  was going too fast and the lamp fell when you took that turn!).  Older children can talk about what happened and you can listen. However, discourage going over and over the same thing. Some older children will do this in an attempt to show you how right they were and how they were wronged and how none of what happened was their fault.  Once is enough.  With that, simple statements also work best.  “We are kind in this family” “We help in this family” when it is your turn to speak.  And yes, you should speak and make clear what happened.  And yes, everyone should learn to apologize and forgive each other as well.  Apologizing and forgiving is also connecting.  Apologizing is genuine; we never force a child to apologize but we model and as a child ages, this should come naturally.
  5. Consequences.  The best consequences include having the child make restitution for what happened – if something broke, they fix it; if they disrupted the entire family, they need to do a chore for the amount of time they disrupted the family; if they hurt a sibling, they need to do something nice for that sibling.   Sometimes teens have a harder time.  For example, sneaky behavior of sneaking out of the house, taking something that isn’t theirs (repeatedly), sneaking onto technology, etc.  This may require not just restitution , but also a natural consequence.  They may loose driving the car for a period of time, for example, if they took the car without asking or snuck out and drove the car.  Many times this step needs to come some time AFTER everything is calmed down and connection is made.  Consequences made in the moment often are just punishments with no direct connection to what happened.
  6. Prevention.  When children are under the six/seven change or even the nine year change, I think a lot of conflict resolution is literally training this order – calming, connecting, consequences and working on the right environment.  However, as children reach the nine year change, I think being able to talk about dealing with frustration and conflict is really important.  How do we handle big emotions? What is the model in our family?  How do we work as a team all together?  How do we love each other in times of conflict?  Many children also need to learn to love themselves. I find this often comes into play a lot in the 9-14 age range.

It sounds simple when we lay it out, but it never is simple in the moment.  The tears, the yelling, or dealing with the same issue fifty times in one day can be trying.  Thinking everything is calmed down and then the yelling or crying starts again is also trying.  However, this is probably one of the most important roles in parenting and homeschooling.  It is character development and the thing many adults need to learn- conflict resolution in a non violent and direct (not passive aggressive) way.  I will be writing some posts by ago about handling emotions and emotional health soon. It is a very imporatnt topic in this day and age when many teens are having challenges mental and emotional health.  We need to be pro-active and work in developmentally appropriate ways to help our children.  The foundation is in the under nine years, but the real work is between the ages of 9-18.

More to come,


10 Ways to Reset This Summer

Who in the Northern Hemisphere is excited about summer?  I sure am!  We made it through a school year full of challenges that we had no control over, and I am so glad summer is here.  I can’t wait to reset, and here are my top ten ways for “Summer Reset”!

  1. Pledge to have a slow and simple summer.  Summer, to me, is a time of incredible physical growth for most children and even teens.  They are so busy growing and being in their bodies really helps provide balance for a school year!  Don’t worry about them “being bored”.  Did you know that psychologists say that it is healthy for children to have boring summers?  So don’t worry about scheduling things; feel free to say no!
  2. But do keep a skeleton rhythm going on – all the sun, at least in my area, without a lot of respite, can lead to this huge daily out-breath for children (and adults!).  So, having those meal times, rest times after lunch, and bedtimes are still important.
  3. Plan some meals so you don’t have to worry about cooking. I love simple salads, fish tacos, and crockpot meals during the summer!  So much fresh produce to love.  While you are at it, streamline your cleaning for summer.
  4. Keep lots of open time to sit and ponder and read and dream.  I think this is important for homeschooling mamas as a balance to a busy year of teaching!
  5. Find your time in nature.  Even if you did nothing all summer but get outside and threw a weekend or two of camping in, it would be an incredible summer for your kids.  If you want a little inspiration, try the 1000 hours outside Facebook page.  Here were a few ideas for a summer of nature for parents who are working all summer  in this back post from 2014.  Here are a few favorite pictures of my children when they were small, doing summer things.  I don’t post pictures often (maybe twice in ten years?), so enjoy!
  6. Have some things tucked away for the inevitable rainy day.  I love to have little craft kits, or for older children sometimes science kits or things I don’t normally buy  for just such days.  Mainstream homeschool supplier Rainbow Resource often has great deals on any sort of science kit, older child toy like K-Nex, even wooden toys, and lots of great deals on books.
  7. Make appointments for yourself- go to the dentist, doctor, GYN, alternative health care provider.  Most homeschooling mothers I know never have time to do these sorts of appointments during the school year, and it is hard to physically re-set if your hormones or thyroid levels are off or you are suffering from adrenal exhaustion.
  8.  Take time ALONE to rejunvenate. Some mothers actually take a few nights and homeschool plan somewhere alone.  If that isn’t possible, could you garner a few afternoons without your children in order to just think, plan, or do nothing?
  9. Read some classic children’s literature to your children.  There are some great suggestions here in Christine Natale’s gorgeous 2011 guest back post  about creating a magical summer.  Reading great literature is refreshing for everyone!
  10. Spend lots of time each day just relaxing in whatever form that means to you!

Looking forward to a sunshine summer,


Mothering Love

Today is Mother’s Day in the United States.  I find it interesting to reflect that as parents, we all come with our own stories of how we were mothered and by whom.

We also have our own journeys into parenting, the births of our children, the developing and deepening of the parenting arts.

We have our own ideas about what it means to be an incredible parent, and how we make our choices to support that.

We have our own strengths and weaknesses, our own failings and foibles.

However, whatever all this might mean,  at the end of the day, parenting is all about relationships and guiding.  It is also about the relationship with ourselves that we develop through our experiences of mothering, and how we so hope and work toward having strong family bonds to carry us through the ups and downs and storms of life.

Today, I honor all my readers in their parenting journey.  You are amazing in the trenches of parenting, and I see you.

My grandmother wrote this toast for a mother-daughter luncheon long before I was born, but its words still ring true today:

Here’s to mothers who waken and watch while others sleep, who toil while others rest, who remember when others forget, who are always close at hand when we rise with the pride that comes before a fall and who are ever making our tumbles easier and our bumps less painful.. Our mothers, whom we shall always follow with blind confidence in their wisdom and strength to guide us in the right direction.
Here’s to our mothers, in memory of our cradle days, in memory of our after years of success, in memory of laughter, of labor and love. The bigger we get, the better we love them. The higher we go, the farther we venture from security and contentment, the surer and more close will be our hold upon our mothers.
If I could mark it on the sands of time, or write it on the sky of every clime, this would I write and write in boldest hand that all the world might see and understand, that far and wide, there could not be another,so fine, so sweet, so wonderful as Mother. 

May you all have a wonderful day!