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.