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Child Development

Words of Waldorf Wisdom


Love & Discipline -pt 2

When we are trying to break an inherited family cycle of hurting and yelling, holding loving  boundaries can bring up intense feelings of overwhelm, despair and vulnerability in parents. The times we are in are especially difficult now.  

Finding our own centre is often challenging, takes effort and patience.  The most important tool we have when it comes to holding loving boundaries in the early years is RHYTHM.  A strong rhythm at home can help to prevent meltdowns caused by overstimulation, fatigue and insecurity. 

The reality is that even with the nourishing family rhythm, pushing boundaries is how the children learn and grow. Part of this learning process is the MODELING we do as parents and teachers when we hold strong to our words and our values.


Megan Rose Wilson, child educator and a parent suggests     

Four Steps for Holding Loving Boundaries:

  1. Make sure the boundary is appropriate: Check in with the developmental stage your child is in, their personality, the situation and context.  Boundaries do not always apply to all siblings in the same way.

  2. Find your way: Why is this particular boundary important to you as the parent to hold? Get very clear on this. Without a clear “why” you will be indecisive and your child will sense this.

  3. Get down on your child’s level:  Connect and empathize while stating the boundary in a calm and non-judgemental tone.

  4. Your word is Gold: If you are going to hold a boundary, make it clear and stick to it. Do not hold it one day and then let go of it the next. (If this happens, go back to Step #2).


Another wonderful child psychologist and educator, Kim John Payne, in his books: “Simplicity Parenting" and the recent one, the “The Soul of Discipline," describes multiple creative ideas and solutions on how to manage the behaviour of the child and the adult/caregiver.

He describes the neurological development of the child when by the age 5-6 the child’s mirror-neurons are activated.  When the adult does purposeful, meaningful work around the child: washing dishes, sweeping floor, dusting, folding, etc., the child, observes that this work makes sense. The mirror-neurons start activating and the child begins to do the work inwardly (Imitation).


Kim John Payne describes the situation of the upset, grumpy child, and the way to engage the child without speaking about it:

  1. The child is sitting on the couch or at the table, 

  2. Adult does not speak to a child nor asks for help, but calmly, slowly starts to clear the dishes from the table, or fold the blankets.

  3. Adult is doing the task, in front of the child, in a calm manner with slow movements, as if “drawing the child into the activity”, (starting to ease up the high-jacked amygdala from the “fight or flight” mode). Not speaking but being deeply conscious and aware of the activity.

  4. Adult starts humming a little familiar tune, while still calmly working on the task. The child’s mirror-neurons that relate to the familiar music, will slowly start to shift and open, helping to come out of the difficulty.

  5. The child will see that we are emotionally regulated.  That it is safe for them to co-regulate with us.


Mary Willow says: “ALWAYS REMEMBER!  When the child is misbehaving, bring immediately the positive comment: “AHA! This is because of their gift!”

In his book “Difficult Children, there is no such thing”, Henning Köhler, Waldorf teacher from Germany, did not speak of weaknesses and problems, but rather of "new talent profiles" in children. "We want to help children bring out the strengths and beauties of their nature, even under adverse conditions, and integrate their weaknesses in such a way that they do not become an obstacle to their lives.”

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