Children

  • Three things have stayed with us from paradise:The stars of the night, the flowers of the day and the eyes of the children. Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)


Development

Birth

Anthroposophy is a path that will lead the spiritual in the human being to the spiritual in the universe. Hereby, an internal spiritual core is postulated to be present in every human being. Rudolf Steiner called this the "I" (I-self). This "I" leaves the spiritual sphere, incarnates, develops upon the "earthy plan," to go back to the spiritual world again.

In Waldorfkindergartens on a child´s birthday the story is told of the child who is led by his guardian angel over the rainbow to his parents and siblings and who is happily looking forward to be with them. Looking into the eyes of a child one can experience the close vicinity of the spiritual world the child left only a short time ago.

Truly pitiful is the (outdated) materialistic concept. Here a child is considered to be rather a product of her/his genes. Hence, the child is reduced to a little meat loaf. However, it is quite comfortable to standardize a meat loaf. It can be inspected, measured, weighted etc.. Such an approach offers a lot of numbers to be announced as the only scientific truth. The human genome project did not meet the expectations by far. This did not surprise the normal minded at all, but still the squaring of the circle goes on and on. Finally, there is a market with a lot of dollars or pounds in it to be obeyed. However, not everything in the market is of use. Try and pay!

The nuclear physicist Hans-Peter Duerr (born 1929) said: "For over 50 years I have tried to find out what matter is; now I know there is no matter ". It is difficult to differ between illusion and reality even if things seem to be trivial. The only real thing of worth is a child . Therefore, children are the only wealth a human being can achieve (this also includes adopted children).

Children require a lot of time and attention in a medical practice. However, particularly physicians can learn a lot from children. A child is a human being with her/his own history (Karma). Predispositions and diseases may have their origin in that history. We only have to be aware of it.

Seven Year Periods (7YP)

Solon (Greek statesman, 640 BC) divided the human life into seven years periods. The first 7YP ends when the child starts his permanent dentition. The second 7YP terminates by the end of puberty. Finally, after the third 7YP the child is on the brink of adulthood. In Waldorf Pedagogy and Anthroposophical Medicine 7YP are paid particular attention. Here I will briefly describe the first 7YP only (suckling, toddler, pre-schoolchild).

The first 7YP consists of three phases

  • 0 - 1 year  suckling phase
  • 2 - 4 years toddler phase (1st bodily filling)
  • 5 - 7 years pre-schoolchild (1st bodily stretching)

The suckling depends totally on his environment. He is subject to his surroundings without any objections on his part. After five months his body weight will have doubled. It is growth that comes first! Perception is at maximum although we might think the baby does not realize anything. Spiritual vibrations go deepest in this extremely sensible phase. 

At first the baby´s own body is a completely unknown terrain to him. Then the hands and legs are discovered and the baby loves to play with them. He resembles a kitten chasing her own tail. Once the discovered body parts are integrated in the baby`s world, further discoveries will follow. The child moves into the upright position and has to find a new orientation in space. It is the latter process that gives valuable information about the way he will master all those tasks to come. Then he starts walking.

After walking a new human capability is developed, the language (walking - speaking - wanting). The "I-esteem" awakes at age 3. The child realizes his own being. The "I-self" is opposed to the world. This means the child can now also say "no". Mostly, children stand on an elevated spot (e.g. a ladder) when they say their first "I" and are astonished at it afterwards.

During the first few years children play with what is in reach coincidently. Are there older siblings playing, the little child wants to play with exactly the same toys they are playing with. If the older children leave the toys to the little one and turn to some other toys the litttle one will do the same. Parents will have to mediate in such conflicts.

At age 4 children develop a creative fantasy. The carpet becomes the whole world, a box will become a car and a rag a pretty dress. At age 5 creating and building become very important. One sandcastle will follow the other and finally they will all be destroyed to start building again.

At age 6 things must sustain. A bridge made of sand must be strong enough to carry a toy car. Woe to the little sister or brother destroying the bridge! That destruction which made him cheer a year ago will be a disasterous now. "It was so beautiful and now it has fallen down." Here the parents have to intervene again.

Finally, the child will realize that she is not as good at building or creating. The box, once a car, now is just an ugly box. This is the point where he is ready for school. He wants to be as good as the adults. The teacher must take over here; an important aspect at Waldorf Schools. 

Thinking is followed by feeling and feeling by wanting during the first 7YP. Thinking enables language skills, feeling enables creative skills and wanting prepares for school.