“Working with Anxious, Nervous and Depressed Children”

(yet another article gleaned from my yahoo group Waldorf_At_Home – again, it has been slightly edited)
I have been reading a wonderful book recently which deals with issues around the senses, movement, balance etc.  It is called "Working with Anxious, Nervous and Depressed Children" (and should have had a better title) by Henning Kohler, an anthroposophical doctor and educational consultant in Germany. It is a wonderful, wonderful book and it’s main thrust is that these "issues" which are becoming more and more prevalent in our modern society, are due to a complete lack of understanding of the spiritual nature of the human being and of the spiritual understanding and orientation we must take toward children. He says that the state of children in our world is a barometer measuring the state of spirituality in our society – in other words, we’re in pretty bad shape.One of the things he talk about is warmth.
Now, I can’t go into it all here – and I touch on things like this in my "Joyful Movement" book – but by warmth, he means several things. On an obvious level, he means that modern people tend to underdress their tiny children – one rarely sees little ones with their heads covered, for instance – and really, until they are about 3, it should be covered most of the time. Something interesting to think about in this connection is that the head is a place of spirtual connection (thus the shaved heads of monks and the covered heads of Jewish women – and yalmulkes for men). So there’s something about gently "keeping the spirit in" when covering the head.
So what’s the connection here between warmth and spirit? Kohler talks about the need for the body to be warm enough for the soul to incarnate into the body properly (ok – how many of you have I just lost? – c’mon – if you’re going to deal deeply with Waldorf – and therefore have even just a peek at anthroposophy – then you’ll have to get used to all this!). And what he talks about is that early learning cools the body too much. He talks about how thoughts are cool – how the very act of
thinking is a cooling activity – which is, of course, appropriate. We want our thoughts to be rational, calm and cool. But, that’s for adults and older children. He says that the effect of early intellectualism on little ones is that this cooling permeates the body, thus making it difficult for the soul to incarnate properly thus leading to many of the "issues" we see in so many children.
Interesting, eh? And don’t we all know that so many of our children with "issues" are superbright, intellectually advanced?
So I give this to you all, not in the spirit of trying to make anyone feel bad – but to offer a new possibility to add to our knowledge of what’s going on with modern children. And I should also hasten to add that, as Kohler emphasises, love is the most important key is helping children with "issues" (by which he means a love warmed by knowledge and which has the strength and clarity to act) and that therefore parents are in a wonderful position to really help their child heal if s/he demonstrates problems. This kind of deep, clear and knowledgeable love is, says Kohler, the only way that true healing can be found.  Further, Kohler gently challenges us to speak to our child’s guardian angel, to seek spiritual guidance in the quest to understand our difficult or hurting child.
Kohler’s book is addressed to parents as well as to teachers and therapists. It may come as a shock to those readers who know nothing of the deeper aspects of Waldorf, but it is not a particulary difficult read. I would also strongly suggest that anyone wishing to learn more about the Waldorf perspective on children’s "issues" (I’ve got to come up with a better term!) get ahold of Daena Ross’ cds on the 12 senses (Rahima Baldwin sells them – go to her website at www.waldorfinthehome.com).

Posted on December 11, 2005 in Active and Therapeutic Education, Family Life and Parenting

  • Allison Farrow says:

    I find that working with flower essences is very helpful in terms of soul-body fusion. I am quite certain that there are other issues involved besides “warmth”. Flower essences can be quite precise and individualized. There is a garden in Virginia called Perelandra which is maintained via collaboration with the nature-spirit and devic levels of intelligence. The work being done there is remarkable and could be well-utilized by anyone concerned with integration of spirit and form.

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