Parenting - 16th July 2013

Being a parent of three kids, parenting is one of my pet topics. As I think it must be for most parents.

Last night we had a talk at our school from a Rudulph Steiner trained pediatrician, Dr Lakshmi, and it was fascinating. I am paraphrasing her advice – of course – so any errors are mine! Her discussion was mainly on the child around ages 7-8 but it encompasses kids from 7-14 and focused on how we, the parents, are the ones who take this journey more than our kids. And how we can enjoy this journey as much as possible. 

She says not to get involved in their dramas or problems but to just listen to them. Sometimes not to even answer them directly. Just to murmur ‘hmmm’ or nod or say ‘that’s interesting’ or ‘oh’ or ‘I don’t know’ or whatever rather than getting into a discussion. She says when you engage in a discussion you are coming from your head (the intellect) and kids need us to come from our heart. During this time she says the growth of our kids is noticable in the torso and this is because they are in this space of the heart more than anywhere else. (From 0-7 they are in the will stage. Everything is physical. And from around 14 they are in the intellect stage. The head.) She says that while we listen to our children that we should make sure we are engaged in the process of our daily lives. So preparing dinner, doing the bath, bedtime etc… She says to always come back to the process of our routine as this is reassuring for the young child.

 She said that the heart phase is all about relationships and how they relate to the world. Engaging in explanations about things is all in the head and they don’t need it or really want it. When we take them out of the heart space by describing/explaining things we detract from their imagination.

 So today in the car my 7 year old got angry because I picked up my new reading gamecommaration glasses and he has been wanting new runners for ages. Previously I would have explained why he couldn’t have them, when he might have them etc etc… this then, Lakshmi would say, invites discourse from the child who is not thinking with a rational/adult brain and why often these discussions end in an argument. So in the car I just listened and I think I said, ‘I know’ and ‘hmmm’ and before long he was onto another topic. And again tonight in bed he was winding himself up about something and when I just listened it went nowhere and he just let it go. He just wanted to talk. Dr Lakshmi said to always be honest though in the sense that if you do not know something then just to say “I don”t know”.

 Dr Lakshmi said often at this age (7-8) it is all about comparisons in the negative. So instead of looking at how they are the same they look at how they are different. And how everything around them is different. They want to compare everything. It’s a time of duality and can be very frustrating for the parents. Hence with the shoes my youngest compared him not getting something to me getting something. Also, this is the time parents often get compared to the teacher and come out the loser. She said that what comes out of the childs mouth at this age is not who they are inside. They are just in the feeling realm.

 Sleep, apparently is the great healer – as we know. But I have found it interesting to some nights have had a huge discussion with eldest about a problem at school and then in the morning when I ask him how he feels it’s as if he’s forgotten all about the problem.   

Anyway, tonight everything was SO calm. It was fantastic. There were no threats, promises, things to have to remember to do.  Dr Lakshmi likened us to the ribcage and the child the lungs. When the rib cage holds the lungs properly and safely then the lungs can expand and do their job. They can breathe. Then she asked us, “Can the lungs negotiate with the ribs?”  

Looking back on my own childhood I recognise those times that I felt the most loved was not when someone told me “I love you” but when they took care of me peripherally – that is providing a nice meal, a warm place and a calm environment. When they were just there.

I love parenting issues and the learning that can come from sharing knowledge amongst us all. Hope this was helpful.


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