The RIE parenting philosophy is one that has had a profound impact on me and the way I parent. I’m not at expert at it, and there are some parts of it that don’t necessarily work for us, but what I love is the emphasis of RIE on respect for the baby and child. Even from infancy, when most people assume their baby won’t understand anything that’s going on around them, RIE proponents encourage parents to talk to their child, tell them what they’re doing, and treat them with the same respect they would treat an adult.
I have utilized this a lot with Valentina. I always talk her through what we are going to do, even telling her when we’re going to change her diaper and what our plans are for the day. If she’s upset about something, I don’t wave a shiny toy and try to distract her, I don’t laugh when she falls down trying to get her to think it was funny too, and I don’t tell her “you’re ok”, “it’s ok”, “it was nothing, you’re fine” if she’s upset. I’ll go to her and say “you fell down, you bumped your knee”, or “you’re sad because we had to leave the park and you wanted to stay at the park”. I try to validate her feelings and let her just have them, staying in that space with her until she’s processed them and she’s on to the next thing.
It’s tough too because that’s not the way most people do it, including my husband and one of our nanny’s! They want to cheer her up, distract her, and divert her away from whatever happened. I try to encourage them to let her have whatever feeling she has.
I don’t believe in everything that RIE stands for. They believe that babywearing takes away from a child’s ability to be independent, whereas I strongly believe it fosters closeness with the parent, which then promotes independence. I’ve worn Valentina since she was very young, and continue to wear her now, and she’s the most independent thing I’ve ever seen!!
I do also love the RIE philosophy on sharing. They believe that if left to their own devices, and with the caveat of watching to ensure safety and that no one is getting hurt, that children will naturally figure out how to play with one another, including sharing toys. I do agree that as parents it’s easy to get so concerned when our own child is focussed on a toy that another child seems interested in. I know I’ve fallen in the trap of telling Valentina to share because I was concerned what the other mother would think of me/ us if I didn’t. Now I tend to just say, “I believe that kids work these things out between them, I’m ok with not intervening if you are”. Most mothers I hang out with are fine with that and frankly I think a little relieved, the pressure is then off them for their child to be a good sharer too.
Here is a quote from Janet Lanbury’s blog:
“It’s chanted on every playground and enforced at the park, parties and play dates. It’s a word that has become the social mantra for parents of toddlers everywhere: Share!
We are all desperate for our children to share. Sharing is vital. The future of the world depends upon our children’s spirit of generosity. We fear that if we don’t remind our children to share, they might become selfish, stingy outcasts. Or, we worry that we will be judged an indulgent, inconsiderate and ill-mannered parent.”
Read her full post on sharing here.
I love RIE and it has shaped the way I parent more than anything else. To me it’s such a beautiful thing to treat my child with a high level of respect, to give her the considerations that I would want, to allow her her emotions, talking them through without telling her what or how to feel, giving her time to work through them herself without rushing her by downplaying or distracting.
I would highly recommend Janet Lansbury’s books. While Magda Gerber was the originator of RIE, Janet is a current expert and a great resource. She has a wonderful blog too.