Parenting advice is everywhere. It’s aimed at us from websites, magazines, and TV. It’s shared with us by parents, friends, and nosy strangers. What’s far more rare? Wisdom.
You know when you find wisdom because it has a way of interconnecting with what you’ve already found to be true. More importantly, it confirms what your parent’s heart whispers to you.
That’s why I feel blessed to have stumbled across Janet Lansbury’s site, Elevating Childcare. Janet runs Resources For Infant Educarers (RIE) classes for infants and writes sensitive, wonderfully useful posts about parenting the smallest people in our lives. Each time I read what she writes I feel a yes inside.
The RIE approach to parenting was developed by early childhood educator Magda Gerber. It is based on respect for the child. At its core, RIE parenting has to do with being aware of the baby’s (or small child’s) perspective. Instead of striving to direct our babies, an approach that’s exhausting and often frustrating for parent as well as child, RIE encourages us to understand the world as the baby experiences it. I’ll let Janet explain more clearly as she does in the introduction to her must-have book Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting.
RIE parenting can be summed up as an awareness of our baby’s perspective. We perceive and acknowledge our infants to be unique, separate people. We enhance our awareness by observing them—allowing them the bit of space they need to show us who they are and what they need.
RIE parenting also makes us more self-aware. Through our sensitive observations we learn not to jump to conclusions; for example, that our babies are bored, tired, cold, hungry, or want to hold the toy they seem to notice across the room.
We learn not to assume that the grumbling or fussing means babies need to be propped to sitting, picked up, or rocked or bounced to sleep. We recognize that, like us, babies sometimes have feelings that they want to share and will work through them in their own way with our support.
We learn to differentiate our children’s signals from our own projections. We become more aware of the habits we create (like sitting babies up or jiggling them to sleep), habits that can then become our child’s needs. These are artificially created needs rather than organic ones.
In short, RIE parenting asks us to use our minds as well as our instincts, to look and listen closely and carefully before we respond.
Sensitive observation proves to us that our babies are competent individuals with thoughts, wishes and needs of their own. Once we discover this truth there’s no turning back.
Elevating Child Care: A Guide to Respectful Parenting is a selection of 30 pivotal articles that originally appeared on Janet’s site. She bases her work on observations of hundreds of infants over 20 years as well as raising her own three children. Each time she shares a new article on her popular Facebook page the comments are wildly enthusiastic, like “finally someone gets to what the baby experiences” and “I had my doubts but this really works!”
Here’s a tiny sample of the book’s articles.
- “What Your Baby Can’t Tell You”
- “Sitting Babies Up: The Downside”
- “How to Build Your Child’s Focus and Attention Span”
- “Allowing Your Toddler to Succeed”
- “7 Myths that Discourage Independent Play”
- “Best Ways to Encourage Toddlers to Talk”
- “No Bad Kids–Toddler Discipline Without Shame”
- “I Think I Know Why You’re Yelling”
This is an important book for all of us parenting young children. Get a copy for yourself and a copy for expectant parents. It’s that good. You can open it anywhere, read a few pages, and come away with a bit of wisdom to make your parenting path more naturally peaceful, compassionate, and respectful.