From the time I first discovered RIE to now, I have gone through many anxious moments as a parent. As I have read articles highlighting the ways RIE should be approached in my day to day life, it has been, at times, overwhelming and has made me feel like I have too much to change all at once. At first I found that not a lot came naturally to me. It took a lot of conscious thought on my part to change not only my actions but my wording, my temperament and my tone. It was especially hard for my husband who, although supportive of the approach, did not invest as much of his time into reading and researching it as I did. And also, being a full time worker, he was not always home as I was to practice how to approach the situations as they arose.
It has been roughly 10 months since we adopted the RIE parenting approach and still we are both slowly learning to make it an autonomous skill in our house. We have tried to take it one step at a time, choosing one RIE practice to focus on before changing to another. There were some that came quite easily like allowing developmental milestones to occur naturally and changing the types of toys we had but others required (and still require) much more daily thought and a complete shift in what we had instinctually been doing. Discipline and managing emotions has been one of the most difficult for us to become comfortable with. There are still many times on a daily basis that even I find myself scrambling for words to say to my two year old who has just muscled into my one year old’s position for the third time in 10 minutes, causing her to fall to the ground followed quickly by one child crying and then the other. I know it is important, not only for us, but for our children that we are consistent in our approach to this type of situation so that they feel confident in us as their primary carers and can be secure in the knowledge that we stop them from having this type of power.
I was also finding myself getting frustrated at my husband who regularly used different ways to handle the situations and often I couldn’t stop myself correcting him in front of the children. Not wanting to have the kids see this type of conflict in the house and wanting to have some help finding helpful words at those critical moments, we have decided to put a few pertinent phrases up around the house so we both can refer to them as needed.
In particular, I have focused on phrases we can use when rough situations arise between the girls as this is what is dominating our household at the moment. They have only been up for one day and already they have made a big difference. I feel I can now confidently speak to the children with these words after only a quick reminding glance at the phrases. I had initially thought they would go on the fridge but I quickly realised that they needed to be where the problems were occurring and for us that is mainly in the play area.
Most of these phrases have come from Janet Lansbury’s post, Helping Kids Adjust to Life With the New Baby. I have read and reread this post several times but could never seem to get the phrases to stick in my head to use when I needed to. Now that they are up to refer to, both my husband and I can finally use them more consistently.
The only quote that went on the fridge was a long quote. Janet suggests talking regularly to the older child about how it can be difficult being an older sister. This way they continue to get a sense of your unwavering support and understanding of their predicament. I have placed the quote on the fridge and although wordy, I intend to use it as a reminder to talk to my eldest daughter about her feelings rather than to read it to her word for word.
What things have you done in your household to help create a united front and consistency when using the RIE approach?