The Significance of Setting Limits

 

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Throughout my years of participation in the early childhood education field as a teacher, director, and consultant, I have had the opportunity to observe a fair amount of approaches (whether conscious or not, I do not know) to parenting. I find it fascinating how every single family has their own unique dynamic and yet, we all adopt certain parenting tendencies and techniques that share particular similarities.

For the most part, from what I have experienced with parents and being a parent myself, we all want to love our children and do our best to provide them with a secure, nurturing environment in which to grow and flourish. And sometimes, through our desire to establish a harmonious and loving relationship between ourselves and our children, we neglect to recognize the importance of setting clear limits with our children.

I will give you an example that rings true to so many scenarios I have witnessed between a child and his or her parent:

Mom is picking up her son from his childcare environment. It is time to leave to go home. The boy, however, is reluctant to leave right away because he wants to keep playing with the toy trucks. Mom says “Okay, come on, it’s time to go home!” And the little boy laughs and runs away, unconsciously hoping to engage his mother in a cat-and-mouse style pursuit. Mom “gives in” and says “Okay, you can have 2 more minutes to play.” After 2 minutes has passed, Mom says again “Okay, it is time to go now. You had 2 more minutes to play, so now it’s time to go.” The whining commences and the little boy says “No! I want the trucks!” Mom approaches her little boy to encourage the process of leaving. Little boy runs away. Mom eventually catches her little boy, swoops him up happily and repeats “Okay, time to go home.” And little boy suddenly begins screaming, kicking, crying and yelling “I don’t want to go home! I want the trucks!”

So often in this type of scenario, what I have observed is that parents continue to engage in the “battle of wills” with their child. Parents are so intent upon solving a situation with their child in a peaceful way that respects the child’s independence, that sometimes, we (yes, I include myself here) neglect to draw a line with our children and let them know when enough is enough. I would like to let all parents and educators of young children know:

It is okay to tell a child (whether your own or one of your students) when enough is enough.

And it is okay to be firm and, sometimes, even stern with your children in order to set and communicate boundaries. It is okay and, in fact, it is essential to establish limits with young children to help them learn what is expected of them in their environments and relationships.

As adults, when we create and uphold certain guidelines with our children, we establish a sense of order and predictability for them. This does not mean that we have to become militant drill sergeants with our children and structure every moment of their lives around rules and regulations. What it means is that when children know what is expected of them and what to expect from their adult guides, they have a higher opportunity of letting go of power struggles and functioning more naturally in any given environment.

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Establishing and upholding certain behavioral guidelines in your family or classroom is really an act of love. We are not just “laying down the law” with our children… we are also creating space to acknowledge and assess our own behaviors as adults and parents. None of us are ever perfect and it is important to remember this about our children as well as ourselves.

Set the guidelines. Model the desired behavior. Give yourself and your children permission to be human. Remember to be flexible like bamboo: Firm, bendable, but not easily breakable.

Don’t be afraid to intervene in a child’s behavior that displays signs of disruption, harm, or careless misdirection. We don’t have to scold the child or raise our voices. We simply need to stop the unproductive behavior, direct the child elsewhere, and work through whatever sort of reaction the child demonstrates in a humane, constructive manner.

As adults, we represent the blueprint for who our children will ultimately become. It is our responsibility to model, practice, and teach respect on all levels.

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Folding Laundry ~ Time for Reflection

 

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Laundry ~ it’s the never-ending chore that is always staring us in the face as parents. The dirty clothes pile up, we tackle the mountain waiting to be attended to in the laundry room, get every article of clothing folded nicely and put away in its proper place. And then… the cycle starts all over again.

Most times, when I am doing laundry for myself and my family, I feel the annoyance festering inside of me and I notice myself thinking the same thing: that I just cannot fathom how so many dirty clothes multiply so quickly. And that I am tired of doing laundry.

Today, however, I actually slowed down with my actions and thoughts as I was folding a load of laundry that consisted of my two daughter’s clothing. My first thought was that it was cool how my older, 7-year-old daughter’s clothing all reflects her own personality and style now.  This single thought led me to ponder childhood ~ our own children’s childhoods ~ and how quickly they grow up and become new versions of themselves over and over again.

I know that this is a commonly expressed notion ~ that children grow up too fast and we must stop to appreciate them for who they are now, in this moment, in this current version of themselves. But… sometimes it is good to remind ourselves of these basic but profound realities of life.

As human beings, our time in these forms and experiencing these specific lives is so brief and fleeting in the grand scheme of the universe and evolution. We must not get so caught up in the day to day business of routines, activities and obligations that we forget to slow down and focus on what truly matters to us in our lives.

As I continued to fold my children’s clothing, it also occurred to me that these garments are the physical material that cover, protect and envelope my children as they interact with the world and experience their own lives. Their precious bodies are held in these articles of clothing, and I wash, dry and fold them as an act of love, care and reverence. This laundry that I do is an extension of my own physical form that wants to hold on to my growing children and preserve the versions of them that I can no longer experience firsthand.

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This profound experience I had while folding laundry helped me to reconnect to the practice of engaging in meditative work. Tasks such as doing the laundry, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor ~ they all provide an outlet for rhythmic, repetitive motions, which aids the human being in coming to a restful place within. I relished in this moment.

My mentality regarding laundry has also helped me to shift my own perspective on what it means to provide my toddler with the opportunity to participate in household work. She is around a lot of the time when I am folding and putting laundry away. She is drawn to the activity and clearly wants to contribute to the process. Rather than discouraging her or trying to distract her with a different activity, I allow her to “help” me. It is so much easier in the long run to just let her take clothes out of the basket (even if they are clean), drag them around the house, or pass them to me to fold. She even mimics my motion of shaking out an article of clothing prior to folding it. It is so inspiring and touching to take notice of these developmental, human aspects of her drive to integrate into her environment.

As parents and educators of young children, we must do our best to create ways for our children to be active members of any household activity that goes on in the home on a regular basis. These small beings are doing what they are biologically “programmed” to do: explore, engage and do what they observe other human beings doing as a way to adapt to their world. Let us not discourage this naturally unfolding process but rather, provide outlets for our children to be and do what is essential to a holistic development and harmonious integration into this experience known as human life.

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Yard Sales & Lemonade Stands

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My family and I organized a yard sale a few weeks ago in an effort to minimize the amount of material clutter in our home. It is incredible to me how much stuff continually accumulates in our living spaces — despite being somewhat fastidious about maintaining a systematic, aesthetically pleasing home. Oh, stuff… how you elude me with your mysteriously multiplying ways.

Our 7-year-old daughter was more than just interested in helping out with preparations for the yard sale. She also wanted to create a lemonade stand as an additional attraction. I encouraged her enthusiasm and decided to display some of my handmade jewelry pieces in addition to the various toys, puzzles, books and small appliances we were hoping would find new homes. I also felt inspired to paint and decorate some fun, reusable yard sale signs as a way to integrate my own creativity into this Saturday event.

The morning of our yard sale & lemonade stand arrived and we were all set to go. My daughter made the jug of lemonade herself and prepared all of the necessary items like cups, her sign, a small money box. We walked around the neighborhood and hung our signs. We were open for business.

It was slow going. People would come by the house in waves, it seemed… which was interesting to me. I knew that it wasn’t going to be constantly swarming with people, as we live a bit off the closest main road. And that was okay. It was enjoyable, actually. It was amusing to me to watch how my daughter would interact or… not interact with the different people who stopped by to check things out. I was engaged with people in a completely different way than what I am typically accustomed to, and it felt refreshing and also… kind of weird. But weird in a good way.

There was one guy who came to look around who didn’t speak English (we live in a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood). He looked at my jewelry for a good 10 minutes, then proceeded to a small shelf of antiques I had set out. He picked up this old hand mixer utensil made from wood and metal. He stood there for nearly 5 minutes rotating the handle, watching the mixer spin around and around and smiling at the sound of the revolving metal. I was certain that he would purchase this hand mixer, as his piqued interest was clearly obvious. Alas, he purchased nothing in the end… which was fine! The experience of watching him interact with the hand mixer was worth so much more than the $5 I was asking for it.

We had a box on display that was full of new, unopened device covers that my husband had somehow acquired last year sometime. I think we had priced the covers at $2 each. What was so interesting to me about this particular box was that every single person who walked through the yard sale looked extensively at these device covers and yet… not one of them was sold. Funny…

My daughter sold a few cups of lemonade, mostly to our sweet elderly neighbors who came over to pay homage to our efforts and purchase some items both out of necessity and just simple kindness. The woman who lives across the street from us is in her late 70s and we chat with her occasionally if we happen to be outside at the same time. She came over to say hello, buy a cup of lemonade and visit for a bit. She saw that I was selling a small pitcher and bowl set that had been my grandmother’s. It is a beautiful little set, but it had been sitting in a box for years and – realistically – it is not something that I need to keep. Our neighbor insisted that she purchase it in order to save it for me for someday after “she is gone.” Being from a different generation with different principles surrounding sentimental objects, I found it touching that she would make this sort of gesture on my behalf.

The day progressed and the visitors followed a rhythmic ebb and flow pattern. We sold some things, some others remained complacently awaiting someone to notice them and take them home. Even objects of high interest can’t always find a new taker. And I cannot force myself to be a keeper in the interest of buffering the feelings of a lovely, but albeit, unnecessary inanimate object.

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The point I really want to make here is this:

If you have children who are old enough to participate in and understand the process of hosting a yard sale and/or lemonade stand, working together to organize this kind of experience is a fascinating endeavor and one I would not pass up. It’s not like we have to have a yard sale every other weekend or even every month. It could even be a one-time special event for your family. The opportunity to interact with people on this kind of level and for your children to observe and participate in these unique exchanges is an amazing learning affair.

Organizing any sort of small, family-oriented, neighborhood event is an outstanding way to help your children integrate the principles of community, responsibility, social and monetary exchange, entrepreneurship and mathematics into their development… all of which are significant in becoming successfully integrated into one’s surroundings.

My own dream is to someday have a garden large enough and time enough to open a neighborhood-farm produce and product stand. I envision my children, husband and myself working together as a team to share the fruits of our labor with the people living around us — even if we do not speak their language. And maybe make a small, supplemental income in the process. Or better yet… maybe inspire change on a small level by being an advocate for community, neighborhood partnerships and bringing back a certain way of social interaction that has gone missing from too many other avenues in our modern society.

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Finding the Beauty in the Mess

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On some late afternoons, I find myself looking around at the various living spaces in our home and wondering how messes continually manifest throughout every area of our simple dwelling. I am certain that I include decluttering, organizing and general clean-up of our home in my daily routine. So then… where does all of this stuff come from? And, if it all has its own place in our home, why is it all so often spread out over every surface throughout every room?

Because ~ we live here.

We make use of the things we have. And young children have a more difficult time in fully understanding or appreciating the principles of concise organization and orderly spaces.

Putting things away is like working on an extravagant, three-dimensional puzzle. A puzzle that is a never-ending brain teaser. You get one step closer to thinking you have it solved and then… wow. There’s another random pile of kitchen items lying in this corner over here.

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But, I want my kids to explore. I want my kids to be able to just BE and experience what it is to investigate their living environment. I want them to have the opportunity to feel the presence of these materials items we have chosen to become a reflection of our inner selves.

I also want my kids to learn the importance of organizing one’s space and respecting one’s belongings. So ~ sometimes my perspective on the mess shifts towards a more urgent need to clean things up and make an orderly sense out of our living spaces.

It is a back and forth kind of dance — this relationship with material items, the messes they can become and how we relate to the messes. I see evidence of my younger daughter’s developmental need to gather, sort, deconstruct and move objects from one place to another in these scattered messes. I see affirmation of my older daughter’s love for her books and toys when I go into her room and notice that her things are spread all over her bed and desk.

A lot of the messes are actually my own. I find proof of my creative energy and desire to learn in my paints and brushes, books and papers that lie scattered across the kitchen table and counters.

These messes are made because these children, along with myself, are living here. We are interacting with our environment and developing and maintaining relationships with the tangible aspect of our beings.

So yes, a mess can be a beautiful thing. I suppose it all comes down to what frame of mind I carry within myself on any given day. Or how I choose to respond to how the objects around me are arranged, whether neat and tidy or in complete disarray.

No matter what perspective I see the mess from, however, I will continue to do my best to be at peace with the clutter.

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Strawberries from the Garden

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My 20-month-old daughter and I were in our backyard one afternoon, enjoying the more moderate end-of-summer temperatures that were gracing us that day. We grow strawberry plants in our back yard, so I was searching through the foliage for any ripe berries that might be ready to pick and eat.

It is such a magnificent sensory experience to pluck a ripe strawberry and eat it straight from the plant. The sweet, warm flavor of the berry’s juices spreading over your tongue can transport you to a utopian universe — even if for only a brief moment.

I happened upon a particularly crimson patch of berries and felt like I had uncovered some long lost relic from an ancient time. My daughter was busily playing on the other side of the yard with her outdoor kitchen set-up. I called over to her: “Evelyn! I found some ripe strawberries! Come and see!”

She came trotting over in her toddler-like way, interested in whatever marvel I had discovered amongst the foliage. I showed her the pretty red berries and said: “These are strawberries!” I carefully plucked one off the vine and passed it to my daughter.

“Ooo! You can eat the strawberry, Evelyn! Try it, it’s really yummy.” I encouraged her to partake in the berry’s fine gustatory offerings.

She popped the strawberry into her little mouth and chewed. As she experienced the pure, alive flavors of the fruit’s essence, she nodded her head in determined approval and presented her most serious, furrowed-brow expression. She was concentrating so completely on the sensory pleasure of the berry’s flavor.

Having the opportunity to watch my daughter enjoy a strawberry that was grown in our own backyard, straight from its source, filled me with a magical sort of gratification. It was this perfect moment – complete in and of itself – in which my daughter was fully connected to her genuine, beautiful humanness and her connection to our earth.

The soul and the physical body merge when we allow ourselves to slow down and make manifest the interrelation of our physical experiences and our inner, more quiet processes. There is an authentic grace inherent in observing a small child engaged – even if unconsciously – in this interplay of the tangible and the soulful.

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We, as parents and teachers, must create – even protect – opportunities in which our children can just be. Even though I was the one who beckoned my daughter over to the patch of ripe strawberries, once she discovered what the berries were and how she could pick them and eat them, I left her to her own devices to just be.

We were outside together a few days later, enjoying another mild late-summer day. I was sitting on the patio and Evelyn was wandering around the backyard, exploring this and that. I watched as she meandered over to the strawberry plants. My heart filled with a passionate gratitude as I observed her going about the business of searching for any ripe berries to pick and enjoy. I just sat and watched and let her be.

By observing young children and their engaged manner of interacting with their surroundings, we can learn what it is to live openly and united with our source of life energy. It is all around us, all the time. These small humans can show us how to reconnect with this essence of our beings. It is rather magnificent.

We also must reserve space in which we, ourselves, can slow down and become more mindful of our own integrated experiences throughout the evolution of our days and evenings. We all have the potential to understand ourselves and the world around us more fully. Finding this connection between the physical and “other” realms of our existence helps us live more genuinely, passionately and compassionately.

 

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Back to Basics ~Nature Therapy

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Last weekend I took my 7-year-old daughter on a weekend camping trip in the mountains. Up until then, we had only “camped” in our backyard ~ pitching our tent, cuddling up in our sleeping bags and watching a movie on the portable DVD player as we fell asleep to the neighborhood sounds of traffic, airplanes and people mingling in their own backyards.

I had been hesitant to take my daughter on a “real” camping trip because I was worried that she would be too freaked out to sleep in a tent in the wilderness, struggle with not having immediate access to a bathroom and just feel generally displaced and anxious. So, I avoided the prospect of mountain camping… until this summer.

Something changed in me. I suppose part of it is the fact that my daughter seems old enough now to really understand what it means to go camping. For-real camping, out in the wilderness. She seemed excited by the idea, so we planned our trip and I educated her about the necessary gear we would need to take with us.

Something else changed in me too, though. My decision to plan this camping trip stemmed from a genuine need to reconnect with nature and disengage from “modern society.” I was noticing how the ins and outs of my daily life in an overpopulated suburban sprawl were taking a serious toll on me. I needed a break.

So we packed up the car and headed out. We did take along modern conveniences and indulgences like a cooking stove, marshmallows and camping chairs. I wanted to give my daughter a fun impression of camping, not just force her to learn about roughing it and nature survival skills.

What I found when we arrived at our campsite, however, was that my daughter was far more interested in learning about survival skills as opposed to the novelties of modern camping. She wanted me to show her how to build and start a fire. She wanted to learn the proper way to store food so bears would not wander into our campsite at night. She wanted to discuss the change in environment around us, the weather, the local wildlife and our relationship to the earth.

After our tent was pitched and we had all of our gear organized, my daughter spent about four hours simply wandering around the campground (within sight), gathering objects from nature, creating rock, stick, pine cone and acorn designs and sculptures and drawing patterns in the dirt with a stick. Watching her engage in this type of play filled my heart with so much gratitude and beauty. She also discovered that the tree trunks smelled like maple syrup! So we walked around to every tree in the vicinity and sniffed the trunks. It was such a therapeutic experience.

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When we were packing for our trip, I had considered bringing along our portable DVD player, my daughter’s Leap Pad and other activities like workbooks, games, etc. I decided at the last minute to leave all of these things behind. I am so glad I made this decision. Why did I think that my daughter would need technological stimulation while surrounded by nature? Why was I afraid that she would feel too far removed from her “normal” life without a movie to watch, a computerized game to play, or a workbook to occupy her time?

This experience helped me realize how incredibly conditioned we have become to our technological and educational stimuli. We have become so engrossed in the modern society that surrounds us that I actually thought my daughter would need or miss having a “device” at her immediate disposal. How wrong I was. And how thankful I am that I was, indeed, wrong.

We roasted marshmallows and made s’mores both nights of our camping adventure. My daughter mastered the skill of roasting the perfect marshmallow and wanted to keep roasting them all evening – not to eat them, but for the simple pleasure of practicing a basic skill and getting better at it with each new attempt.

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When we departed on our weekend trip, part of me thought that I was not going to want to come back. And I was right, I didn’t want to come back. But… I am a mom to two young girls. I am a partner to a wonderful, caring husband. I have a role to fulfill in the society where we live, even though it eats away at parts of my soul every day. It is my responsibility to find ways to refuel the aspects of my soul that are eaten away by the environment in which I live… at least until we can make a change for the better regarding our living situation.

What I want to share now – more than anything – is how this camping experience solidified in me the belief that children need nature. They need a connection to the natural world. They need time to just BE and to interact at will with a natural environment free from the influence of human civilization. As parents and teachers, we must protect our children’s experience of human life by reserving time and space for them in which they can roam freely, be immersed in the outdoors and not have to follow an agenda. Helping our kids create and develop a bond with the natural world is paramount to a healthy and holistic upbringing. And, it is also vital to our own well-being as caregivers. Let’s get outside, let’s forget about our hectic schedules, let’s allow our children and ourselves to reconnect with our source – as often as we  possible can.

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Elemental Relating: A Unique & Holistic Approach to Understanding Children

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When it comes to understanding children – whether our own or anyone else’s – there are myriad ways to attempt to relate to them. Some individuals take the route of establishing an authoritarian disposition towards children, hoping to keep them “in their place,” while others may adopt the attitude of being a child’s friend and try to mimic childlike behavior.

Throughout my years of working with young children and ever since having children of my own, I have tried on many roles in my way of relating to children. Some of my experimental roles have succeeded while others have failed. For example, whenever I find that I am trying too hard to make a child behave in a specific way or putting too much emphasis on encouraging a child to do something that I want him or her to do, I eventually stop in my tracks to reevaluate the situation. When it comes to relating to kids, my insight is that if you find yourself trying to force something to happen, it is most likely not in anyone’s best interest to see the circumstances through to the end. Even if you “win” the argument and the child eventually succumbs to your authoritative force, there is no genuine learning taking place for anyone.

I have also found that my efforts to solely befriend children and hope for them to behave in a harmonious way lead to discord and frustration… for the adult and the children. Children actually thrive in an environment with established boundaries and understood expectations. So, as their role models, adults really do need to work consistently to help children understand what behaviors are acceptable and which are cause for redirection or discipline.

With all this being said, I’d like to share a particular approach to relating to children that I have developed and adopted over the years. I call it Elemental Relating.

The Four Basic Elements

If you are familiar with the Nickelodeon series ‘Avatar’ — not the blue people film directed by John Cameron — but the animated series in which the Avatar is a young boy who must master the four elements of air, water, earth and fire in order to save the world from destruction, then you will know exactly what I am referring to when I explain this concept of relating to children through the elements.

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Each of the four elements embody unique properties that, when harnessed or embraced by an individual, have the ability to affect one’s inner self as well as one’s surroundings. Here is a brief description of each element and what it represents:

  • Air ~ Air is a light and active element. Movement, freshness, inspiration, imagination, communication, intelligence, dreams, wishes and ideas are all aspects of the Air element.
  • Water ~ Water is a fluid element that can change in form. It can be useful but also extremely unpredictable. Emotions, artistic expression, healing, philosophy, acceptance, contemplation, creation, movement, change, freedom and independence are all aspects of the Water element.
  • Earth ~ Earth is the foundation for all of the elements. It is the center of all things. Stability, wisdom, knowledge, strength, growth, prosperity and fertility are all aspects of the Earth element.
  • Fire ~ Fire is a volatile element that – unlike the other three elements – does not exist in a natural state. It must consume other elements and materials in order to exist. Transformation, creativity, destruction, motivation, will power, drive, sensuality, authority and leadership are all aspects of the Fire element.

Astrological Influences

With a basic understanding of these four elements, it is possible to assess a child and his/her behaviors from an elemental perspective. Utilizing the method of Elemental Relating can be supported by also possessing a basic understanding of how these four elements relate to the twelve astrological, or zodiac, signs. I will not go into great detail on the zodiac signs here, as that is research every reader can conduct specific to his/her own children. What I do want to emphasize, however, is that each sign of the zodiac corresponds to one of the four elements. Here is how the twelve zodiac signs are organized according to the elements:

  • Air Signs ~ Aquarius, Gemini & Libra           zodiac
  • Water Signs ~ Pisces, Cancer & Scorpio
  • Earth Signs ~ Taurus, Virgo & Capricorn
  • Fire Signs ~ Aries, Leo & Sagittarius

Now, keep in mind that people – children and adults alike – cannot be categorized and assessed simply by identifying their main astrological sign. A more comprehensive examination of someone’s astrological chart will give you better insight into their complete astrological composition (based on birth date, birth time and birth place).

What I like to do is to determine someone’s three most prominent signs: Sun sign, Rising sign and Moon sign. This triad of astrological information can really give you a strong basis for understanding a child’s personality and how he or she relates to the world and to others.

The reason I share this information about astrological signs is that – when you utilize the elemental relating model – it can be extremely beneficial to understand a child from where he or she is “coming from” based on the child’s inherent elemental influences.

For example… my oldest daughter, who was born in August under the Leo sign, is astrologically ruled by the Sun. So her personality is strongly influenced by the element of Fire. When I looked deeper into her chart, however, I discovered that her Rising sign is Scorpio, which is a Water sign. And I also found that her Moon sign is in Aries, which is a Fire sign like Leo. Having this information has helped me determine how my daughter’s Fire and Water elemental influences affect her character and development.

If you are interested in learning more about astrological charts, you can visit https://alabe.com/freechart/ to enter specific information and receive a free outline and description of someone’s astrological composition. Gathering this information will assist you in developing your own use of the Elemental Relating model.

Using Elemental Relating with Children

It is helpful to also have an understanding of your own elemental and astrological composition when using Elemental Relating. When two people are in relation to one another, being well-informed about each individual’s influences supports you in discerning how the elements can be manipulated to shift a situation.

Nonetheless, you can also utilize Elemental Relating without obtaining any specific astrological data about yourself or your child. Using this model to relate to children can be based purely on energetic perception and sussing out the feeling of every unique situation you encounter. Let me provide some examples:

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The Scenario

You and your child are getting ready to leave the house and you have a time restriction. You know that your child is easily distracted and struggles with following verbal instruction. Your child tends to daydream and get deeply involved in whatever he or she is doing in the moment. It is difficult for your child to stop an activity to prepare to leave the house. As a result, you become frazzled and rushed when trying to get out the door with your child.

Stop to Feel and Analyze

When you catch yourself in a situation like the one described above, the best thing to do is stop, notice the feelings that are occurring around you, analyze these feelings by recognizing what elements are at work and then determine a course of action (or non-action) from there.

You feel stressed, perhaps agitated. This is the Fire element coursing through your energetic field. Your child shows no outward signs of hearing your request to hurry up and get ready to leave the house. Perhaps your child is immersed in the element of Air — caught up in an imaginative, engaging play world of his or her own.

By stopping and recognizing these two elements at work in the scenario, you can then apply the principles of the other two elements to help diffuse the struggle and work out a more successful plan of action.

Counter-act the Imbalance of Elemental Influence

The Fire aspects that you may notice pulsing through you in the above scenario can be calmed and redirected with your conscious effort to draw more Water element energy into your sense of being. Even if you are running late, go to the kitchen or bathroom sink, hold your hands and forearms under running water, or fill the sink with some water and immerse your hands under the water’s calming presence. Seriously. This can actually help! Drink a glass of water, evoking your body’s own water stores to rise and help diffuse the Fire element in you that is creating stress. Set your thoughts and actions on a calmer, more healing, intuitive course to get through the process of helping your child leave the house.

Approach your child with this Water element energy. Rushing at your child with the intensity of a Fire-based intent will only create more discord, as air fuels fire and fire feeds off of air. Offer your child an Earth element alternative in order to see more cooperative behavior emerge. Do physical, concrete things to inspire your child’s actions. Pick your child up in a loving, nurturing, positive way. Grab his or her shoes and put them on for the child (even if he or she is capable of doing it themselves). Motivate your child to cooperate by expressing what will happen in the real, physical world once you get out the door and are on your way.

I want to emphasize here that being immersed in the element of Air is not necessarily a bad thing. And adopting a Fire element approach to some situations will be useful and appropriate at times. It is all about recognizing what elements are at work in a difficult situation, how these elements are creating disharmony for the parties involved, and then figuring out how to counter-act the situation with different elements in order to bring about the desired result.

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It’s all about balance. Elemental influences are continuously shifting all around us and inside of us. Notice what elements are working in you and in your child to determine the best course of approach in any given situation.

 

An Uncomfortable Influx of One Element

The Scenario

You know your child possesses a strong Water element influence based on his or her energy or astrological make-up. Your child’s heavy Water influence makes him or her a highly sensitive, creative individual. Sometimes, because of your child’s increased level of sensitivity, he or she will become extremely emotional and dramatic about something that does not seem like a big deal to you. For example, your child sulks and cries for more than 20 minutes because you told him that it is too hot to play outside… even though you offered to set up an equally fun indoor activity. You want to honor your child’s feelings but, come on… sometimes enough is enough, right?

Stop to Feel and Analyze

In this particular example, perhaps your own elemental influences aren’t affecting things directly. Your approach to reacting to your child, however, can be taken into consideration and you can adopt an elemental relation to your child’s overly influenced Water aspect.

Counter-act the Imbalance of Elemental Influence

Upon initial thought, one might deduce that approaching your child with a strong Fire element could potentially counter-act the over indulgence of Water influence your child is displaying. With further contemplation, however, manipulating the situation with the intensity of the Fire principles may not go over very well with a highly sensitive child.

Why not look to the Air element to help bring about cooperation in this specific situation? Approaching your child with a light, playful, inspiring, motivational attitude may be just what he or she needs to evaporate some of the excessive Water element.

Again, I am in no way suggesting that possessing a strong Water element influence is a negative thing. However, having too much of anything becomes cumbersome to anyone at a certain point. So helping your child to balance his or her elemental influence can arouse positive responsiveness in a challenging situation.

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Make Elemental Relating Work for YOU

The key to making this model of relating to children work for you is to keep a continuously open perspective and to develop a thorough understanding of each basic element and how it can potentially affect a situation. As I mentioned earlier, it can also benefit you to conduct your own research on which elements you are most influenced by and why, as well as which elements are most prevalent in your child’s character and why.

There is not one “right” way to utilize Elemental Relating. That is what makes it such a versatile, fascinating and adaptable way to look at any given situation. By turning our focus to the four basic elements and doing our best to understand how they are at work within us, within our children and within our surroundings, we can devise infinite approaches to conflict resolution.

If anyone gives this model a try and discovers an approach that works for them, please share your findings and insight! We can all learn from each other’s trial-and-error efforts. Remember that the elements are not necessarily fixed in any individual or environment. Every situation is unique, requiring openness and new perspectives!