What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child. ~George Bernard Shaw
The six year change
It started awhile ago. Emotional outbursts followed by crying and then rage and then confusion. My very even tempered, take anywhere, never a problem boy turned into an emotional, fidgety, somewhat aggressive at times child that I barely recognized. I mentioned it to a close friend who pointed out to me that he was 6 and therefore was entering the 6/7 year change. She also reminded me that in Waldorf pedagogy it is known as the “First puberty”. Oh boy is it ever!!
Steiner talks heavily about the 7 year cycles that we all go through. Steiner believed that this first one, the 6/7 year change was a big and often quite challenging one for both child and parent as the child makes his/her way into their physical body. There are some wonderful blogs and sites that have great information on the 6/7 year change. Carrie at the Parenting Passageway has some really helpful information as does this blog and this one. For me, reading these and seeing that the behaviour is normal and actually completely on track in his development helps me. Some days are so easy. He is growing into his skin and is eager to help out and take on responsibilities, he steps into the big brother role effortlessly. Some days however, are so hard I wonder how I will even get through them. It has been a learning experience for me and I have had to learn how to parent all over again. Some days I fail miserably. For a while it felt like most days I failed. Then some days it is smooth and easy.
The change is an ebb and flow with progression forward followed by five steps backwards. I find it challenging on the flow backwards. The neediness, the clinginess, the reverting into toddler behaviour. I am trying to help him through it all. It must be so scary, confusing, and exhilarating all at the same time. He is losing his milk teeth, his voice has lost that squeaky little kid tone and now has a bit more of that even toned big kid sound. His limbs are long and lean, his movements are coordinated and complex. He is constantly in motion, even in sleep. He is a fountain of energy and his life force surges through him so strongly there are times where I think he is going to burst. Most days I put him to bed and I am drained. I am drained from trying to maintain the space for him all day, I am drained from trying to hold those boundaries he is pushing against. I am drained as he experiences and tries out every emotion we are humanly capable of in the course of one day.
They say the child that they are and the conflicts you have when they go through this and then the 9 year change will be the big issues later on in the teenage years. You are supposed to work on building an open dialogue now so that when the really big issues present themselves later on down the line, the relationship is solid. Honestly, I am not really sure how I am doing. I know I have a lot of growing myself to do and I know there are so many things I could be doing better, but I do hope that I am giving him a secure and loving space to work all of this stuff out. It is hard to watch them grow. It is hard to watch them pull away and then coming running back to you clinging to you. I want so much to hold on tight and not let go, but I know that I have to. It is starting already, the need for independence and space.
This is a really hard time we are going through. So much learning and adjusting going on. So much rebeling and struggle. I am looking forward to breaking through to the other side of this, while at the same time trying not to look too far ahead. It is already going by so fast, I do not want to rush it. This boy who continues to change before my eyes is slowly coming into his physical self and is slowly leaving the dreamland of early childhood. I can only hope that I am a strong enough person to guide him and give him safe passage through this next stage of his development.