The goals of parenting arise from the child’s unique individuality
Parents can help their child develop his individuality step by step by looking at the child himself. To do this, it is important to understand the phases of child development. It is important to know, for example, that talking develops from learning to walk and thinking then develops from talking. The way in which a child accomplishes these developmental steps, and the intensity with which he experiences them, are an expression of his individuality. It is important to trust the child and give him the time that he needs to unfold his potential.
Relationship building begins before birth
Rudolf Steiner taught that each person chooses her social environment, her parents, and the family into which she is born. Nothing is left to chance. Even before conception, the unborn child has a spiritual and emotional relationship with the people who will one day be her parents.
Limitless openness: every experience shapes and influences a child
The child commits himself to his parents’ care in full trust. A newborn baby is extraordinarily sensitive to what happens in his surroundings, not only to what can be seen and heard, but also to the spiritual and emotional energies.
The current assumption in alternative medicine is that everything we experience is stored in every cell of our bodies. We take this idea more for granted now, but a hundred years ago, Rudolf Steiner first professed that through their limitless openness, children are affected on every level of their being by everything they experience. The quality of human social interactions around the child is especially influential. The atmosphere surrounding the child should, therefore, be as harmonious as possible, with joy and cheerfulness in everyday situations. This does not mean that children should be jollied along or entertained, but rather that the quality of human social interactions should match the quality of the child’s untroubled mind. Even very small children can tell the difference between artifice and what comes from real human joy.
Young children learn through example and imitation
In the first years of life, a child learns the most important and difficult things: walking, speaking, and thinking. Nobody can teach her this. In order to learn these things, a child needs to grow up among people who walk, talk, and think. She learns through imitating them. The parent should lovingly accompany the child, giving her honest and authentic support without interfering in her development. As the child grows older, her ability to imitate reveals itself in the small events of everyday life. She will treat others the way that she is treated herself or experiences other people being treated. She will encounter her world with the same love, respect, and care—or with the same impatience — that she observes in others. When playing with a doll, for example, children emulate what they have experienced themselves or have seen happening around them.
Children learn through exploration and experience
During approximately the first seven years, children do not learn through their intellect. They learn through their own exploration and through imitation. By perceiving everything in their surroundings with all their senses and by imitating adult conduct, values, and norms, they come to know the world profoundly and comprehensively. All these experiences, which permeate their senses and are holistically internalized, form the basis for intellectual learning later on.