Election year is upon us and it seems we can’t go anywhere without hearing about the candidates. Everyone has an opinion and sometimes these opinions strain even the best of friendships. What if we stepped away from the madness a bit this cycle, if not for us, then for our children? What if we were able to get our civic duties fulfilled without contributing to the chaos and fear?

As we know from Marshall Rosenberg’s work with Non-Violent Communication, a fear-based environment hijacks the amygdala in our midbrain, preventing our frontal lobe from being able to see things clearly. We then REACT to situations instead of being able to CREATE new solutions, becoming a slave to our emotions while the “captain of the ship” is out to sea. I remember many situations where I did not make the best decision because I was working from a place of fear. This is the adult response to fear.

In a developing child, living in a place of fear prevents them from being able to fully come into their body. The child has a limited ability even in the best of situations to make a highly frontal-lobe-based rational decision. This is the nature of the child. For them, the problem arises in a different area. In the young child under around age seven, coming into their body is a necessary preliminary step to being able to create images, read, and form independent thoughts. In the child in their second septennial, from around ages 7 to 14, the child is working with developing a strong, yet flexible feeling life.

In a previous post, we looked into the four lower senses as described by Rudolph Steiner. These are the senses of Touch, Life, Movement and Balance. The goal of early childhood education is to develop these four lower senses with the eventual goal of developing the four higher senses of Hearing, Word, Thought, and Ego. The sense of fear is in direct opposition to the Sense of Life (which is a precursor for the sense of thought, which is being able to “read the script of the human body.”) Damage to the Sense of Life in a child, specifically through fear, looks like adrenal hyperdrive, aka “fight or flight” and leads to adrenal fatigue in adults. The sense of fear in a child is literally the sense that one is afraid of dying. And without the greater perspective of a mature, adult consciousness, the child really believes the thing that causes them fear can lead to death.

Other children react to political conversation with a heightened Sense of Anxiety, which directly opposes the Sense of Touch, which as we discussed last Spring is the sense where the child develops within him the ability to tell where his body ends and the rest of the world begins. This Sense of Touch needs to be properly developed so that the child is eventually able to put himself “in another person’s shoes”, that is to say have empathy for another fellow human being. This is the development of the “Sense of Hearing.” This is the “highest sense where we are able to be brotherly,” that all “human beings are one and the same.”

Fear and anxiety in the child who is around 7 to 14 years old serves to harden and constrict the place in their body that is developing their feeling life. This part of their body should remain fluid and dynamic, able to “bounce back” from adversity. I remember seeing images of a predicted World War Three scenario around age 10 and that anxiety stuck with me well into my thirties.

As exciting as this November is going to be, and you can admit it, it’s pretty scary and anxiety-inducing for us adults as well, maybe we can take a moment to put some intentionality into the way we will take in and process ideas this election season. We can find time to talk out our own issues with the issues in a place where the littlest ears aren’t around. We can save the expression of our fears, and anger, and whatever else the candidates bring up for us, for a time when we can discharge them on another adult who won’t take these emotions into their body like a child would. We all have to get through this election season, we all have to digest the “bad food” being fed to us, one way or another. But we can choose to not have the children at this dinner table with us.

For more information, read “A Living Physiology” by Karl Konig.

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