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Child Development

Words of Waldorf Wisdom


Love & Discipline - pt. 1

For many of us the word Discipline awakens strong emotions.

In life we make time to observe what part discipline plays in our day-to-day experience of the world. When, for example, we exercise for physical well-being, engage in artistic activity, or meditate for clarity of mind, we experience our own connection to life.

Betsy Sutton in her article on “Discipline” shares that: “Discipline is more than a way to keep order, to make life manageable. It is a pathway to experiencing life in all its possibilities.”

Being with the children is a profound, transformative experience. Our task is to reclaim power and responsibility for our own feelings and then model that skill or behaviour to our children. They have not yet developed the consciousness needed to be responsible for themselves, to be able to set their own boundaries. “When they are growing, it is up to us to provide certain direction they need, to live in an intimate and appreciative relationship with the world. Of greatest importance

is our own understanding that developing discipline in children is a process that takes place mostly within the parents and the teachers. It is our own inner discipline, our connection to life that nurtures the child’s sense of discipline. Our self-discipline must be the model that sparks discipline in the children” Betsy Sutton

When we set clear limits for children, then we model the ability for them to set the limits themselves. Instead of disregarding their independence we activate their capacity for setting their own boundaries. Alfie Kohn in his book “Unconditional Parenting “says that “One basic need all children have is to be loved unconditionally, to know that they will be accepted even if they make a mistake or fall short.”

In her extensive work with children, a great Waldorf teacher, Mary Willow describes why young children need to be given boundaries.

By setting them, parents communicate to the children:

 -I keep you safe

 -I give you security in which to have space to rest and grow

 -I keep you warm and nourished

 -I give you time to get to know yourself

 -I give you space to feel yourself

 -I teach your will to serve so it will one day serve you well

In Mary’s research and consulting families she gives wonderful ideas for “Positive Parenting”:

 -Adults must be in 'Big Self-mode' , the wise Captains of the ship.

 -Positive adult example: Change yourself first

 --Excellent observations: stop, look and truly listen

 -Look beyond the negative behaviour your child is putting on

 -“Hold on" to your True Child: Unconditional love

 -Strive to understand your child: there is always a reason why

 -Seek what is good in your child: feed the “goodness”

 -Calmly outwit and outlast the negative behaviour

 -Occasionally tiptoe past the behaviour: choose your battles

 -Set calm, patient, loving, age-appropriate boundaries

 -Forgiveness and a matter-of-fact repetition: “We will sort it out”, -“Let’s try that again”

 -For stuck behaviour: carefully construct goals and support

 -Children cannot break the cycle on their own: It is up to us.

 -Set your child for success

 -Always champion your child and never give up!

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