Parenting with Love and Logic Chapter One

Parenting: Joy or Nightmare?

The chapter begins with a set of parents, kneeling in puddles, begging and bribing a three-year-old to get in the car so they can go home.  Then, a mother sits in a seat at an airport yelling demands at her young son to “come back here!”  Next, a story of a mother whose boys are dividing and conquering the grocery store one aisle at a time, while she sprints between the two trying to control the damage.

“Are we having fun yet?”  We start out with precious dreams of grins and giggles, and it devolves into some Lord of the Flies nightmare.  According to the authors.  They want to give us tools to “put the fun back in parenting” by establishing guidelines and giving us solid parenting tools.

Our goal is to raise responsible kids.  When we parent with love and logic, parents win because “they love in a healthy way and establish control over their kids without resorting to anger and treats that encourage rebellious teenage behavior.”  Kids win because they “learn responsibility and the logic of life by solving their own problems.”

We are working through Foster Cline and Jim Fay’s book, Parenting with Love and Logic.

Strange Fruit

Mimi knows we can throw little leftover bits into the plants- strawberry tops, watermelon seeds, that kind of thing.

She thoughtfully broke up her bean burger and distributed gifts around the yard. Plant food for everyone!

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Do You Teach Kids With Your Voice Or Your Hands?

I came across this article in one of my favorite online magazines, Rhythm of the Home. It matches exactly with how I feel young kids should be handled.

Too often busy kids are labeled as naughty or hard to handle- they need a different kind of handling! I love that the author states that when kids are treated like they are happy and helpful, they act happy and helpful. That has absolutely been my experience with children, even older kids. When I tell my girls what to do, and tell them they’re acting wrong, and tell them to stop it, and tell and tell and tell, they just behave worse every time I open my mouth. They feel bossed around, they feel inadequate, they feel discouraged and squashed.

If I take their borderline behavior in stride and turn it into something productive? Now they are in control of themselves. If I want their behavior to change, I need to physically go to them and help them change what their body is doing. Move the toddler away from what he shouldn’t be near. Show the preschooler how to put away the silverware, sit with the gradeschooler and focus on her school work with her.

Waldorf tradition tells that young kids are completely in their physical bodies- they don’t think with reason or logic, they just act. Isn’t that so true? I try and teach logic, yes. My toddler shouldn’t pull all the books off the shelf. My preschooler shouldn’t leave her markers where her little brother can reach them. I say these things, WHILE PHYSICALLY MOVING THE CHILD.

The best days are when my hands are more tired than my voice at the end of the day.

–Myrnie

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Raisin Math with the Cousins

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Quick math lesson on a play day! Ernie did problems on the board, Ming Wai made raisin flowers, and Mimi had a contest with herself to see how many helpings she could eat!

Defiance in Small Children

As a family, we’ve had some big bumps in the rhythm so far this year.  With a new baby and a busy tax season, lots of things have changed.  Our daily rhythms are off, sleep is off, household chores are off, and everyone….EVERYONE…is grumpy.  Can’t tell you how grumpy.  Can’t tell you how stressed.  In the grand scheme of things, this is just a blip, a nothing, I know that.  But it’s here, right now, in our faces, and Dad and I are spending a good chunk of our precious face-to-face time discussing it and praying hard for guidance in helping the kids.

I’ve come across some interesting resources in my questing for “What am I going to do tomorrow?”  I know time is absolutely the best thing for her, and just carrying on our new daily rhythms until she can join in….but still, I have to do SOMETHING in the interim to help her while waiting for “time” to pass!

At first glance, what she’s doing looks like defiance.  You just want to say “Why won’t you do what you’re told!”

Carrie at Parenting Passageway says this:

From a Waldorf perspective, children in the first seven year cycle are neither inherently good nor bad but learning.  They are not “defiant”; defiance implies a fully conscious knowing of right and wrong and choosing to do the opposite, wrong, thing.  Since in the land of Waldorf parenting we believe the first seven years are a dreamy state, a state where logical thought has not yet entered, a state where the child is one giant sense organ (an eye!) and just taking in sensory impressions without a filter, there can be no “defiance”. Many times the power struggles we create with our children are a result of our own lack of knowledge of developmental stages, not having the right tools to guide our child, our own inner issues at the moment and not as much to do with the child as we thought!

Alright.  Children under seven don’t know right from wrong, I can DEFINITELY agree with that.  It’s a major reason children in our religion aren’t baptized until age 8, or “the age of accountability.”  Young children watch, and DO learn, but they aren’t totally accountable for their actions yet.  And yes: many of the times we’re frustrated, it’s because we set up a bad situation that puts HER in control.  For example “I’m not going to start this car, to leave for church, until you stop crying.”  Wow.  Now our entire family is going to be late for church, waiting for a five-year-old to end her tantrum?  No good.

We, the parents, need to carry on the rhythm, and let our children join us.  We’re unflappable.  We’re brick walls.  We’re a cruise liner.  We’re unstoppable.  Our children NEED us to be constant, as they adjust and push against the world around them, trying to find the boundaries.  They NEED to find those boundaries, and we need to be the boundaries that they find.

She goes on to say that “Children are not supposed to listen.”  They are supposed to watch and imitate- a verbal command is not the way to reach a young child.  If you want them to clean a play room, start and they will join you.  Hand them a toy, show them where it goes.  When they remember which box is for which toy, they can work along side you.

Carrie goes on to say:

When you give them a “verbal command” and they have to go up into their head to process it, this is involving thinking, which is something Waldorf educators see children using as a dominant way to respond to an environment LATER.  It is NOT that small children do not think, it is NOT that they do not have thoughts, important thoughts!!,  but that they live in the moment, they have this will to do what they want without many overriding mechanisms at this point to slow things down. They are LEARNING.

“Without many overriding mechanisms.”  Yes.  Yes, that is absolutely a fantastic way to describe a child’s behavior in relation to impulses.

We need to remember the developmental stages our kids are at, and respect where they are.  I don’t want to find myself constantly pushing the kids onto the next stage, being upset they’re not older than they are.

The School Room

In the flurry of getting ready for baby, I messed around a bit with our school room.  Time to re-assert the “school” part of that room!

This school room is a sunken room, just off the kitchen- our house is a plain vanilla split-level, with a bump out on the back.  The school room is part of that bump out.  The kids like to hang out in there while I’m working in the kitchen, and inevitably loads of toys try to take up permanent residence.  For now, they’ve been banished back to the basement playroom where they belong!  I want this room to be a tidy, organized, well-lit place for the kids to work and read.

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OK, so it’s not terribly well-lit in this photo, but it was about 9:30 at night, and I’d just finished organizing everything!

The easel in the corner is great for math, practicing letters, note rhythm patterns, and keeping the two-year-old occupied.  The opposite side is a white erase board- I don’t like it as much as the chalk, since the kids tend to smash the heck out of the markers in short order, and those pens will stain anything they touch.  We get out our dry-erase markers as a special treat!  I’m keeping the chalk in the art cupboard (see below) so I don’t have loads of chalk sitting out for toddler fingers to get into.  The kids are free to get out the chalk when they want to work with it, and put it away when they’re done.  The nice thing about this room is that it IS centrally located- it’s not necessarily the space for open-ended free play, and I can remind the girls to put away their supplies.

The chairs are big and comfy- perfect for story time with the little one while her big sister is working at her desk, and basically just perfect for getting comfy in.  My hope is that I can nurse our tiny, and still keep the bigger girls engaged in school.  You can’t see it, but there’s a big wicker basket STUFFED with our board books- Mimi will happily sit in anyone’s lap for an hour listening to these stories and pointing at the pictures!  That will probably be a nursing-time activity as well, to help Mimi feel like Mommy still loves her, even though a small peanut wrapped up in blankets has taken up seemingly-permanent residence in my lap.

The desks are probably vintage, from a local Freecycler- she had about 30 stacked up and ready to ship to an orphanage in India, but the shipping container was too full.  All of Ernie’s workbooks are stored in her desk.

The large cupboard was another Freecycle find (I use Freecycle so much I was recently bumped up to “no moderation needed” status.  Hooray, my posts go straight through, no more waiting for a mod to find time to approve!)

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On the right are things the girls have free access to all the time- games, puzzles, card games, magnetic and paper dolls, their own drawing boxes, coloring books, scratch paper, and a big box of assorted crafty supplies like glue and scissors and stickers.  On the left is the “mommy” side- paints, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, construction paper, ribbons, “saved from the recycles bin” craft supplies, little wooden things to paint and color on, large sheets of stickers, etc.

The girls love having a dedicated “work” space- I don’t think they understand that’s what it is, but they love working on quiet activities in here, it’s just calming.  I like not having the distraction of toys during school time (and not accidentally stepping on toys!)

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The Morning in Pictures

Where I wished I stayed this morning.
Autumn Bed

What my husband will be doing next (couple of) weekend(s)

Time to rake leaves!

What I am completely embarrassed that a friend from church brought by, but am LOVING.
Donuts from a friend

(She brought donuts to church one week on a day I forgot to pack a snack for church for myself, and I didn’t have time to grab one in between class and changing the little one’s diaper and playing prelude for our sacrament meeting.  I whispered to my husband to check and see if there were any left in the kitchen, because I was *that*  hungry, and there weren’t…and he asked her about them…and she brought me a half dozen for my very own.  And I am so embarrassed, and no, that isn’t glaze you see on the corner of my mouth.  Of course not.)

Isn’t that a silly picture of my bed?  It’s completely goofy, but I always change our bed up when the seasons change.  Right now it’s a fluffy white duvet, white flannel sheets, an old pilled fleece blanket underneath that my husband’s grandma made for him when he was a boy, and a crocheted throw that my grandpa’s mother made.  Oh, and green pillows.  I tossed the gold and red and blue pillows back into the kids’ play room, until the next time I feel like I want sparkly jewel tones in my bedroom.  I’m sure no one but myself really notices what the bed looks like, but it makes me happy!  (My husband has an excellent eye for colors and design and such, but he normally gets out of bed before I do and goes to bed after I do.)

Mimi found our “base 10” blocks I have set aside for math concepts and lessons- so far we’ve used nuts and acorns and raisins and such for our math lessons.  These kept her occupied!

Playing with the base 10 math blocks

Ernie helped me make a “gel bag” with hair gel and a ziploc bag, and she worked on tracing her letters through the gel.  The goo provides a nice resistance, but I think on a different day I’ll let her add some food dye to the bag to make her marks a little clearer.
tracing letters through a gel bag

 

It’s Monday “Baking Day” so the girls helped me make a batch of wheat bread dough.  We had circle time and practiced some of our memorized verses (set to music) too.  This afternoon will be busy, with a much-loved nephew coming to play and piano lessons.