One of my dear local friends just sent me the most beautiful prayer from the book “Making God Real In The Orthodox Home” by Fr. Anthony Coniaris (here is the Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0937032077/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&m=A6MHEJ10672MS) . Here is the beautiful prayer she shared with me:
My dear friend Lovey from over at Loveyland lent me this book. I really wanted to write a review for you all but am finding it a bit difficult as it is the kind of book where so many things are profound you want to underline every other sentence and tab the pages and ponder what the authors says. (Okay, I guess that is something of a review right there. )
This book is called “Friends and Lovers: Working Through Relationships” and is written by Julian Sleigh who is a priest in the Christian Community, the renewal of religion that in part accepts the work of Rudolf Steiner and celebrates the traditional seven sacraments in renewed form. Steiner’s work is referred to here and there in this book, but I think even if that is not your worldview you will find much sensitive food for thought in this book.
This is not a huge book, about 191 pages total. There are 24 chapters in this book including: Setting out, Being a complete person, How am I doing?, Openness, The dynamic of affection, Friendship, The wonder of the soul, Helps and hindrances, Soul-mating, Forging bonds, It takes work to be social, Feeling, Not for myself, The way of love, Exploring the feminine, On being a man, Confiding, Sexuality: a very personal matter, Creation or recreation?, The question of marriage, The music of marriage, Difficulties and challenges, From rapture to rupture, The community of the future.
The author begins this book with the description that there are “warm places in every person’s soul” that can be filled with feeling for others, and those others have awareness of these feelings. How then do we become able to master interacting and communicating with others in harmony? How do we relate to ourselves and how do we use this as the basis for relating to others? How do we harness and tame anger and anxiety in our interactions with others?
One of my favorite parts of the book is about friendship. On page 37, the author writes, “A friend is a person who is prepared to suffer in support of you: to suffer for you and sometimes even to suffer because of you. Your friend will give you space within his soul, and carry you in this space.”
Another of my favorite ideas from this book is that relating to one another is a discipline and how feelings are part of our emotional life but feeling (as in willing, feeling, thinking) “is a stream of spiritual force that enters our soul when we are at peace with ourselves and with the world around.”
There are some wonderful lists peppered through this book; the nine things for success in relating to others comes to mind as well as the 22 causes of possible break-down in a marriage.
The author talks about the crisis at age 28 that many people go through, adjusting to the first pregnancy, infidelity and divorce and much more.
All in all a very interesting read! Has anyone out there also read this book and have any comments on it to share?
There was recently an excellent conversation on Mrs. Marsha Johnson’s list (email@example.com) about three-year-olds and “temper tantrums”. One of the wonderful mothers on Mrs. Johnson’s list emailed me and stated how she always felt badly about that phrase: “temper tantrum”.
I have to agree with her. If you think carefully about it, that is a phrase that really puts a mother on one side and a child on the other side. A “temper tantrum” really implies that the child has a bad temper, that the child should be able to control his or her emotions and that this temper tantrum is a lack of self-control or self-discipline on the part of the child.
A “temper tantrum” is a need for connection. A time when a child is feeling so badly, so over-stimulated, is a time when a child really needs you to guide them with love. Sometimes all you can do is to be there. Time-out is not an effective tool for this; it promotes separation and isolation instead of listening and being with that child when they need you most. Please see this back post for more about dealing with challenging behaviors: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/01/12/more-about-time-in-for-tinies/
So, let’s re-name temper tantrums once and for all. I think “Connection Crisis” sums it up. Your child needs you.
This reminds me of an article that was shared with me at a La Leche League meeting many, many years ago. It was written by Pam Leo, author of “Connection Parenting” and appeared in the 1997 Winter edition of Empathic Parenting. She took concepts from Faber and Mazlish’s “How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” and modified them.
I am going to modify what Pam wrote, so here goes:
1. When you blame and accuse me —
- I hear: I’m no good, I do everything wrong
- I feel: unloved, unlovable, incapable, worthless
- I need: for you to listen without interrupting and judging me, to set boundaries for me if I need, but most of all to love me despite my flaws and mistakes
2. When you call me names —
- I hear: I’m stupid, I’m lazy, I’m no good
- I feel: unloved, unlovable, incapable, worthless
- I need: encouragement
3. When you threaten me–
- I hear: a person I love is going to hurt me
- I feel: afraid, in danger, unsafe, terribly alone
- I need: boundaries set and kept in a loving way, I need to see a way to de-escalate conflicts peacefully, I need to feel your warmth and your love
4. When you command, order or coerce me–
- I hear: I have no choice, I am powerless, I don’t matter
- I feel: unloved, unlovable, incapable and worthless
- I need: to be able to make mistakes when the cost is small in order to learn, limits but with enough freedom that I can still grow into being myself, understanding and love
5. When you keep warning me —
- I hear: I am careless, I am stupid, I don’t think well
- I feel: unloved, unlovable, incapable and worthless
- I need: a safe way to channel my wonderful ideas, my energy
6. When you make martyrdom statements:
- I hear: I am selfish, I am thoughtless, I am mean
- I feel: unloved, unlovable, incapable, guilty and bad
- I need: to see how someone asks for help when they need it, to see how someone can take care of themselves and still take care of others, how someone exercises self-control of their mouth, how someone has a positive attitude
7. When you make comparisons:
- I hear: I am not good enough, everyone else is better, you don’t love me
- I feel: unloved, unlovable, incapable, worthless
- I need: you to guide me to improvement, you to show me how to solve a problem or a challenge
8. When you are sarcastic —
- I hear: voice words and tones that don’t match the situation
- I feel: confused
- I need: your sincerity, your gentle voice and hands to guide me, to see how children of different ages are parented in different ways
9. When you make negative prophesies–
- I hear: I will never do it right, I will never be enough, my life will be ruined
- I feel: hopeless, unloved, unlovable, incapable and worthless
- I need: your encouragement, your guidance, your ability to let me mistakes when the cost is small, your love and compassion, your demonstration that sometimes “okay” is “good enough”
10. When you lecture and moralize —
- I hear: I should be better than I am, I will never get this right
- I feel: unloved, unlovable, incapable, worthless. alone and isolated
- I need: your love, your boundaries to keep me safe, your warmth and understanding, your stories about what you were like at this age and what happened and did you ever at all feel the way I feel
Change your language and change how you feel toward your parenting
I am sure you have all heard this notion before: that love is often more an action than a feeling. To be loving, even to be “in love”, we have to act loving and then the feeling of love comes.
How are you putting love into action in your home?
Love is picking up and soothing that infant for the millionth time when you really wish they would just go to sleep.
Love is being kind to your child even though they just answered you flippantly.
Love is making time to spend with your spouse at the end of a long day even though you are tired.
Love is being patient when you don’t feel like being patient, and being kind when you don’t feel like being kind. How you do this in your home really influences the tone of your home and the behavior of the small child who not only imitates you, but looks to you to see how you react when things are not going well.
How do you react when you make a mistake?
How do you react when someone is behaving poorly? Not doing what you want them to do? Are you the person who escalates things or de-escalates things in stressful situations?
How do you calm things down and make things more peaceful than when you found them?
How do you leave your little corner of the world better than it was before?
It is hard work, but the wonder of it all is in the striving. It is truly not about being perfect. There is no perfect mother, no perfect home, no perfect road to success, no perfect way. There is only a loving mother, a nurturing home, a middle road, and a thoughtful way.
This is the time of renewal, this sacred and new time between Easter and Ascension. This is a great time to take stock and start planning; plan for your personal development; plan for homeschooling (Waldorf mothers who are homeschooling the grades – have you ordered your materials yet? Have you started laying out a flow to your blocks for the fall?); plan for what you would like to see happen between now and fall.
You are the architect, you are the designer, you are the artist of your life and the lives of your children. If things are overwhelming right now,it is okay to say no to things. It is okay to set boundaries. It is okay to be real and authentic and honest about what you can and cannot handle!
One thing that always helps me is to go back to our Family Mission Statement. Here is a back post about writing a family mission statement, you can see that here: https://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/05/08/creating-a-family-mission-statement/ Once you have this piece of paper, please do make sure to review it, use it, keep it in your mind as you make decisions. It should be like a guiding compass for your family and the things you choose to do as a family.
The other thing that can keep you centered is to have your own Personal Mission Statement or what some people call a Personal Vision Statement. The more you can develop yourself, learn about yourself, and calm and center yourself (which means actually figuring out what makes you feel calm and centered to begin with :)), your family will absolutely benefit. Children want a mother that is calmly in control of things and can be a resource, a guide, a boundary, a wall to bounce off if need be – but a gentle, calm and nurturing presence. What children don’t want is out- of- control, screaming and yelling parents where the whole atmosphere of the house feels stressed and falling apart. You can get to the first thing, but you have to stop and think.
- Think about what would make the biggest difference in your life to make yourself more calm.
- Think about what your priorities really are, and how your life could reflect that.
- How could your marriage be a priority? What would that look like?
- If your children are small, they must be a priority. They are depending upon you to guide them and to love them and to teach them.
- What do you want your homeschooling adventure to look like? Have you assessed your child and know what they need to work on – not just “skill-wise” but also emotionally, physically, spiritually? What do they need to develop into “whole” human beings? What would your homeschooling look like to reflect that? Now is the time to assess for next year’s planning. You cannot figure out what you are going to do in homeschooling next year unless you have assessed where your child is right now, and some of the biggest homeschooling lessons have nothing to do with academic skills at all.
Just a few thoughts for today.
Many blessings to you,
Judging by statistics I read, spanking is still a problem. Yet, this doesn’t seem to be something the mothers I know personally do– none of them spank. (Yes, I live in a bubble, I guess!)
Time-out and the isolation of a child due to challenging behavior, whilst a problem in the US (and confirmed by my international readers that this really doesn’t come up in other countries), is again, not something the mothers I personally know seem to do. (Yes, again, I live in a bubble).
But yelling seems to be almost a commonality. And most of all, this seems to be something that occurs with even more frequency with children who are over the age of 7 rather than small children.
It is almost as if the lie of anger wins – you know, the lie in one’s head that says, “My goodness! They are seven years old! They KNOW better than that! They are just doing this to make me angry! They are trying to push my buttons!”
Anger looks at ONLY the negative, anger makes us feel as if we must “fix” this problem right away or our child will grow up to be this horrible human being, anger makes us feel as if the normal things that children do being children need to be squashed and stomped on instead of being calmly guided.
And underneath that anger, is our own needs. Our own very real fear. Our own very real fatigue and loneliness. Our own distraction with other things that really have nothing to do with our child.
From an attachment standpoint, yelling makes very little sense because we want to treat our children with dignity and we know children need our guidance. But trying to guide a child with yelling is a little like trying to drive a car by solely using the horn. Your guidance, your message will be lost in the delivery.
From a Waldorf perspective, yelling is not a tool to use for discipline. A small child lives in the will, the doing, and in the lower senses – and guess what? Hearing is not one of the lower four senses that make up the willing senses of the small child!
What can you do instead of yelling?
1. PLAN your day – children need time to let off steam, and children also need time to calm down. Limit how many places you are trying to get your children off to, because if Mommy is less stressed then everyone is happier! Children truly need less activities, more time at home, less lessons and classes and more time with family.
2. CALL IT QUITS – If it is close to bedtime and everyone is falling apart, sometimes all you can do is get through it and get everyone off to bed. Recognize the times when the lesson will be lost due to hunger, needing sleep, etc. Raising a child is not a “one-shot” deal – your child can still grow up to be a wonderful adult even if you don’t “hammer the point” over and over.
3. For the older children, be careful too not equate the 7-9 year old with a teenager in terms of reasoning skills! Here are some of my thoughts regarding talking to the seven and eight year old:https://theparentingpassageway.com/2010/02/26/how-to-talk-to-your-seven-and-eight-year-old/
Make sure what you expect is actually developmentally appropriate.
4. WALK IT OFF – If you feel so angry that you are going to explode, go outside and calm down and then come back and guide. If you get angry again, go back outside. You can only effectively guide your child when you are calm.
5. STICK TO THE BOUNDARY – None of this is to say the boundary should not be kept. The boundary needs to be kept! The behavior must be guided, but CALMLY.
6. TRY LESS WORDS – If you talk, explain, re-hash, lecture, write the book down and leave it on their pillow, you are using too many words and the child is tuning you out! Less words! Control your verbal spillage!
7. MORE WORK– Yes, you will have to do chores with them when they are under the age of seven. Yes, when they ages seven through nine they will get distracted and will need verbal reminders. Yes, the effort is worth it, and knowing that training a child to do chores requires effort will hopefully help you not to yell so much about it!
8. BOUNDARIES ON FRIENDS – There should be no guilt in having “family-only” time during the week and week-ends. Simplifying makes life less stressful and less stressful means less yelling!
9. FILL YOUR OWN TANK – It is hard when you have babies and toddlers to get time to yourself, but involve Dad and family. Also catch those small moments. Catch a few minutes to read after your child goes to sleep. Sing while you do the dishes. Keep filling up your tank, so you can be calm and centered,
10. JUST BECAUSE YOUR CHILD IS HAVING A BAD DAY DOESN’T MEAN YOU HAVE TO! Your child will not remember ten years from now why you yelled at them; they will only remember how things felt generally and how you made them feel. If you can model being calm and controlled, think of what a powerful life lesson that could be for your child to see and learn from!
11. CONNECTION – keep connecting with this child; love this child. That is the most important key to discipline.
12. SOLVE THE PROBLEM – If your older child is always being noisy during a younger child’s naptime, and you yell, what could you do to solve the problem instead? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting something different to happen!
Don’t let the big lie of anger get you! You don’t have to yell. Model this calmness during the “breaking points” and your whole family will benefit! During this period of renewal between Easter and Ascension, commit to not yelling.
A small child under the age of seven needs to hear you paint a picture with your words instead of a direct command. This can really be a very difficult thing for us to do as adults, and as such we find ourselves barking commands (politely, of course :)) at our small children all day long. “Come to breakfast!” “Use the potty!” “Get your shoes on!” “Now please!” “Stop doing that!” Even if we frame things positively and say what we do want, the point is that a million times a day we are asking our child to do something. And when we only use a command, we are essentially giving the small child a chance to think, a chance to decide their behavior, and then we get angry when they don’t do what we want when we want it. How funny how that goes.
Small children are often in a fantasy, imaginative world much of the day as they play and create games. They are not adults, they do not view time as adults do, they do not have the sense of urgency that you do. And nor should they.
A small child lives in the physical realm and in their bodies. So, to most effectively parent, we must reach to that for the small child as often as possible instead of playing commander, or worse yet, trying to drive the car with our horn by yelling at the small child.
Here are some examples:
- Think of animals that involve what you need. Can the child hop like a bunny, run as fast as a roadrunner bird, swim like a fish? Can they open their big crocodile mouths to have all those teeth brushed? Can you be a bear that needs a big winter coat ? (And as you say this, you help put the child’s arm into the coat)….It is the imaginative movement plus the physical piece that gets it all done.
- Can you involve their dolls or their imaginary friends? Quietly take their favorite doll and start to get it ready for bed and sing to the doll. “ You and Tim (the imaginary friend) can sit right for dinner “( and lead the child by the hand to the table).
- Can you employ gnomes, fairies, giants, leprechuans? Today a four- year- old and I looked for leprechuan shoes by my back door…. Oh, look at these leprechuan shoes sitting here, do these fit YOU? Oh my, look at the turned up toes on your shoes, I wonder if those shoes will lead you to a pot of gold! How about gnomes exploring the mouth cave for teeth brushing? Big giant steps to settle into a big giant bed?
You do not have to do this to the point where it is tiring to you, but do try here and there, because I find most parents employ very little imagination with their children during the day and the children really do respond to it well and do just what needs to happen.
Your part though, is to plan enough time so things are NOT rushed. Rushing is the death of imagination and the beginning of stress. Please plan ahead!
Also, rhythm is your friend. It is in that space to help you and your child. If you do something different every night to get ready for a meal, to get ready for bed, what cues does your child have for when things are going to happen? Again, their sense of time and urgency is not that of an adult. Also, please seriously evaluate how many places you are dragging a small child. Are these places for them or errands and would your child just rather be home? I am just asking you to consider this piece of the puzzle; only you know the answer for you and your family.
The last piece is the physical end of it, DOING something with a child whilst using the imagination and movement goes much better! Yes, it is tiring that that is what small children need. But better to do that than to complain and moan and groan that your small child, who is perfectly normal, is “not listening”. 🙂
Try it out, I think you will find life to be much easier.