My child is deep in the transformation that happens between the ages of 5 ½ and 7 years old. It’s something we all go through but most of us haven’t heard of it– which is ironic because it’s about finding yourself.
Anthroposophical theory (can you say that three times fast?) suggests that during the phase when a child loses her milk teeth and grows adult ones, she is also losing her baby self and growing her deeper core self that she will use for the rest of her life.
The long and the short of it is that before this change happens a child looks for guidance from the outside. For example a 3-year old will first draw a picture and afterwards look at it to know what it is whereas an older child will decide what she wants to draw and then sit down to draw it. A 4-year old does things because other people say that’s what she needs to do – including things like eating, sleeping and going to the toilet. And older child is motivated to do things by her own inner drives.
So what happens during this very important transition is that the child loses her source of guidance about herself and life and she has to find and learn about the new source of guidance which lives deep within her.
It’s no easy task – actually we spend the rest of our lives on it. Some call this phase “the first adolescence” because the child separates from the adults a little bit and starts to be her own person.
Just like in adolescence, the impact of this process on the child and the family is pretty astounding. Your sweet little darling who previously listened and was so gentle suddenly gets irritable, eats more than the grown-ups, is restless and overactive, challenges boundaries with fiery determination and shouts out the war cry of this age, “You’re not the boss of me!” She’s coming into her own. It’s bloody terrifying for everyone involved.
She doesn’t really know what the hell is going on with her and she needs a LOT of safe emotional holding, boundary setting and calm reassurance. Anxiety, fears, insecurities and anger are the name of the day – for the child as well.
Oh it’s such a hectic time – trying to stay calm and loving while your raging monster of a child is hacking away at your boundaries. While it really helps to understand that she’s in her own terrifying process, boy does it stir up a parent’s anger and fear. And of course what complicates matters is that whenever your child goes through a particular life phase, it unconsciously reminds you of your own experience of that life phase and any unresolved stuff you have from back then is going to pop up to say, “Hello!”
My son’s teacher looked at me kindly the other day and while gently shaking her head she said, “It’s so hard to be the parent of a six year old”. And I wasn’t misbehaving at the time, I promise! Maybe it was the rings under my eyes and the slightly panicked look in my eye that made her say it…
So anyway, why the education?
Well I’m currently in my own deep transformation aren’t I? I mean I keep writing about looking within, finding yourself, stop looking to others to know what to do, listen to yourself… I’m busy shifting my source of motivation from the outside to the inside – my child and I, mirrors of each other as usual.
Transformation :-). Thank you for the beautiful reflection kind mirror and the reassurance that I’m not losing my mind or am alone in this process of maturation. God’s strength in your process and may it be assisted with much love and light.
Oh thank you! God’s strength (and any other) is very welcome right about now. And thank you for reflecting to me the relief of seeing when you are not alone in this.
Oh a lovely post. I said to my husband yesterday that my 5+ daughter has just reached what I thought was supposed to be the terrible twos! Tantrums flying in every direction and very emotional expression. Yes very difficult to handle on a family sunday or a treat excursion to the beach. Thank you for the explanation and reassurance. The really interesting point being how much holding she needs at this time and that it doesnt always have to be about what I havent done right up to now.
Oh it’s so not about what you haven’t done right. In fact, I just spoke to someone who is realising that because of a family crisis when she was around 5 or 6 she felt she had to protect her family from more stress and she couldn’t be the ‘monster’ she needed to be. So your daughter’s behaviour might be an indication that she feels safe enough with you to let it ‘all hang out’ and that you will still love her.
I’m so glad it was useful for you. They really can be so difficult to have around during this phase. They need us to be the solid, unmoving rock in the river of feelings but in order to be solid you need to be deeply grounded, right? And that is one of the thousand lessons they offer us parents (as developing humans) during this time: “What do I need in order to be grounded in my life and centered in my heart?” Then practice living life that way. ‘Cos I’m sure you’ve experienced this, if you don’t do what you need to keep yourself centered you going rooollling down that river with them – and by the end of THAT journey the whole family is sitting there screaming and sobbing.
love your honesty. how can I avoid seeing my reflection in such a clear mirror? Interestingly, it’s the start of the school year here today, so many parents are (over?)identifying with their children who are starting the year (first-grade anxiety and all – parental, of course). So doubly suitable to SHAAARE with my FB friends 🙂
Whew! Mirrors flying everywhere with this post. I wish you (and all your fellow first-day-of-school parents) a good beginning of the new phase – for the children too. Remember to be KIND to yourselves and play. Did you know that play is our natural way of processing and resolving our fears and anxieties? Try it. Watch your children if you’ve forgotten how to.
ooops tried to like you again – but forgot my password, liking you publicly then 😉
Well I like you publicly too 🙂
Wow, this is really valuble and illuminating. Thank you.
You are so very welcome 😉