I have been learning about and implementing RIE (pronounced Rye and short for Resources for Infant Educarers) parenting for about two years now. Over that time, I have experimented with different parenting techniques, including some that have not been so respectful, but I have always found my footing and the way forward when I have come back to RIE.
The whole notion of Magda Gerber’s that my children are capable, unique individuals worthy of my respect completely resonates with me. Understanding that who they are and how they act, today, right now, is perfect for them at this time, has allowed me to let go of my preconceived ideas of what I think they should be doing and allowed them the space to grow in confidence, paving their own paths under my gentle guidance.
Of course, it has not always been gentle. There are most definitely days where my children see the worst of me but even in those times I am able to make it through, under the guidance of RIE, by having open and honest communication with my children; apologising without excuses and letting my children know that even Mummies have hard days.
One thing I have noticed over my time of learning and reading through countless blog articles and Facebook forums is that it is not easy starting out. Stepping over from traditional, mainstream parenting to respectful parenting is, sadly, not always a seamless transition. I remember being completely overwhelmed in the beginning, not knowing where to start. Everything I did took such conscious effort and I felt I was trying to break years of bad habits overnight, so I would somehow wake up the next morning a RIE/ respectful parent.
It did not unfold like this, however and even now after over a year of being a fairly committed advocate of RIE, I am still learning new things about respectful parenting on a regular basis.
So what I am endeavouring to do here is to put together a resource where people who are new to RIE or want to know more can access articles with information that will help them, depending on their child’s stage and needs. One thing I learned early on in my parenting transition was to take small steps. Read enough articles to get the general feel for respectful parenting and then focus on one area for change; focusing on it until it has become habitual. It can take weeks of dedication to change just one area of parenting in this way.
This collection is most definitely not a definitive guide and I welcome any feedback on areas you feel I have not covered or articles you feel should be included.
1. An introduction to RIE: What is it all about?
Why RIE? ~ Sydney Steiner (Learning Motherhood)
12 Reasons Why the RIE Craze Isn’t Crazy ~ Kelly Ray Meier (Tongonto)
RIE Parenting Basics (9 Ways to Put Respect into Action) ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
2. RIE for Newborns
When a child enters the world, parents’ lives are changed forever. Having been through this amazing experience, I believe nothing can really prepare you for the ride you aboard when you first set eyes on your child. No amount of advice from friends and family; no books can truly set you up to sail through parenting smoothly. This is because not only is every child different, but so too is every parent. There is no other family out there with the same combination of personalities, traits and ideals as yours but regardless of your circumstances, the principle behind RIE parenting can work for EVERYONE.
This is because to view a child with respect in all situations; trying to view the world from their perspective and treat them accordingly, is one of the main underlying values of RIE. This makes it possible for everyone to adopt this approach, regardless of their child’s temperament, personalities, abilities and inabilities.
For parents with newborns, these are the main areas of learning being undertaken. The articles here will help guide you through these important parts of your infant’s life.
RIE From the Start – 2 Simple Things you can do to Support Baby ~ Lisa Sunbury (Regarding Baby)
The key here is to change our own insecurities and perceptions about crying. We are ‘taught’ that a baby crying can only be a bad thing, that should be stopped at all costs, but when we consider that crying is the only way a baby can communicate with us, we can get past this notion and stop to listen to the story our baby is telling us instead of shushing her and in essence telling her we’re not interested in what she has to say.
7 Reasons to Calm Down About Babies Crying ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
Take a CALMS Approach to Your Crying Baby ~ Lisa Sunbury (Regarding Baby)
Video Would You Pick up This Crying Baby? ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
It is best to allow our babies the time and space to self-soothe and settle themselves to sleep from the beginning. They will of course need our support and understanding but ultimately they will learn to put themselves to sleep if they are trusted to do so.
The Subtleties of Babies Sleeping (4 Important Things to Know) ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
How I got my Baby to Sleep ~ Suchada Eickemeyer (Mama Eve)
How we Learned About Sleep – The RIE Way ~ Vanessa (Vanemama- Tongonto.com)
Video Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night ~ Jill Spivack (Kids in the House)
This is something new parents will do hundreds of times until our babies transition to using the toilet. Using this time to connect with our baby, showing them gentleness and love as we begin a beautiful relationship with them, is therefore so important and wonderful. The message is to slow down each step of the process and allow our baby time to process and eventually participate in the changes. The same principle applies to all care- giving experiences including bathing, feeding and dressing.
Changing the Change Table Relationship ~Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
Must see video: Diapering Lizzie Day 1 ~ Acorntooakbaby (You Tube)
When we first bring baby home, EVERYTHING is new and exciting. We are meeting our child for the first time and we want to know everything about them and want them to know all about us and the world around them. We long for the day we see them respond to us and show recognition and so we play with our babies, shake things in front of their eyes and goo goo and gah gah right into their face. In the same vein, we feel the need to set them under a play gym with bright colourful and noisy toys for them to look at and interact with. The simple truth is babies don’t need all this and actually appreciate a less invasive, authentic approach to play as they take in the world around them.
Infant Play – Great Minds at Work (Captured on Video) ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
Baby You Are Born to Play ~Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
Video RIE 5 Month old Baby Uninterrupted Play ~ Alina Pantaleev (You Tube)
Natural Development (Rolling, Crawling, Walking etc)
Trusting our babies to be self initiators in every way including play but most importantly through their developmental milestones helps to instil a true confidence in themselves and goes a long way to making them complete masters of their own abilities. This is by far the most joyful part of RIE parenting for me. To see the look of elation and pride on a child’s face when they have completely mastered a milestone or other challenge without guidance or even expectation from parents is truly wonderful.
The Joy of Natural Development ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
Messing With Mother Nature (Guest Post) ~ Michael Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
Don’t Stand Me Up – Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
Basically, it is not needed. Wait for baby to be ready. Always place baby on their back for sleep and play.
Tummy Time Baby’s Way ~ Lisa Sunbury (Regarding Baby)
The Case Against Tummy Time (Guest Post) ~ Irene Gutteridge (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
3. RIE for Toddlers
As our Children grow they begin their transition from complete dependence on us for every choice needing to be made in a day to independence and the need for autonomy. This is an extremely trying stage for both parents and toddlers as we try to steer our children in the right direction efficiently and effectively whilst they choose a completely different pathway of their own. We hope, as parents, to meet with our toddlers in the middle at some stage and to find a harmonious balance which addresses the needs of everyone in the household but until that time there are some important tools parents can use to ensure they can remain connected with their toddler even when they seem completely objectionable to every action and inaction taken on a daily basis.
When a child is upset it is natural for us to want to take away their hurt. Whether their emotions are due to a bump, the frustration of not being able to do something or as a direct result of us denying them a goodie or requiring them to complete a task, it can be hard to hear a child express their unpleasant emotions as freely as they all seem to be able to do. So we distract or punish or give in to demands to make it stop. Neither of these options are beneficial or supportive of our child’s delicate feelings. Acknowledging feelings in all situations where a child is feeling hard done by helps them to feel heard and understood. It strengthens their connections with us even when we have to insist they do something they detest doing. It is probably one of the most used tools in our households and can be heard here regularly throughout each and every day.
Just Tell me You Understand – The Secret to Nurturing Self-Confident Babies ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
Giving Your Children the Brush-Off ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
Acknowledging Feelings ~ Veola Vasquez (Focus on The Family)
Dealing With Extreme Emotions
I have a daughter with extreme emotions. I mean ALL emotions, happiness, sadness, crankiness, frustration, excitement. Everything she feels she seems to feel ten fold more than everyone else around her and is comfortable expressing these emotions to the full. This can be challenging at times and whilst not all toddlers are quite so expressive of their feelings, many are and most will at some point be thrown into complete meltdown status for a period that seems never ending. Remaining steady and calm during these moments is the key to supporting our children through them; staying present with them until the emotional wave breaks and they need us to be there to comfort them.
I have a Daughter With Intense Emotions ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
When Extreme Emotions Take Over a Toddler ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
The Healing Power of a Toddler Tantrum ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury-Elevating Childcare)
Anger is a Scary Emotion ~ Kate Russell (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
For the Love of a Tantrum ~ Darci L. Walker Phs.D (Core Parenting)
It can be easy to confuse peaceful or respectful parenting with permissive parenting but I can definitely attest to the fact that it is possible to set the boundaries our children need and want without yelling or resorting to other punitive methods. It usually takes a little longer for our children to internalise the appropriate behaviour than other fear- inducing methods but as long as the limit is set firmly and consistently by the parent, they do eventually stop testing it.
Coping With a Limit Tester ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
Setting Respectful Limits for Toddler (With Confidence and Love) ~ Tiffany Gough (Tongonto)
Setting Limits With Toddlers – The Choices They Can’t Make ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
This is a vital skill to develop for anyone choosing a respectful parenting pathway. In essence it is akin to narrating the situation to a child in times of stress. Whether our children are frustrated, have hurt themselves or are in the midst of a full blown battle with a sibling, they need to know we are there for them and can empathise with their plight. Similar to acknowledging feelings, this technique allows us to do this for our children without taking away the opportunity for them to work through their problems independently.
The Secrets to Successfully Sportscasting my Children’s Squabbles ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
5 Benefits of Sportscasting your Children’s Struggles ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
Allowing Children to Play for Their Age and Stage
Much of a toddler’s life is dedicated to play. In fact if they are not involved in a care giving experience like eating or bathing, they are usually engaged in play. The thing is, it may not always look like play to us. When they are pulling all the cups out of the kitchen cupboard and then rolling them around on the floor, they are playing, when they scoop all the bird seed out of the feeder and scatter it on the trampoline to watch it spring into the air when they jump, they are playing. To foster creativity, inquisitiveness, independence and above all, confidence, it is important we recognise that children are the masters of play and taking a step back and allowing them to approach it in their own unique way can help to do just this.
Allowing Children to Play for Their Age and Stage ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
Video RIE See How They Play (Toddlers) ~ RIE.Org (You Tube)
Toys Fostering Creativity and Independence in Toddlers ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
Respectful parenting at mealtimes is so important to help our children develop nutritious eating habits and healthy food associations. Our desire to ensure our children eat the right amount of vitamins, minerals and fibre can sometimes blind us to the fact that each mealtime is the chance to connect a little more, learn a little more and set up a future where our children grow to enjoy a healthy relationship with a wide range of foods. The dinner table does not need to be a battle ground causing stress for young and old family members alike.
Six Steps to a Peaceful Toddler Mealtime ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
Dodging a Toddler Food Fight ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
Video Respect is Contagious ~Janet Lansbury (You Tube)
4. Sibling Rivalry
This is something very close to my heart. I decided to add this as a separate section because it really is probably one of the most stressful parts of parenting. We all dream of having children that play beautifully together, who protect each other and generally get on. However, it is the reality for many of us that our children do none of these things and in fact do quite the opposite. Feelings of jealousy, anger and even hatred are all commonly felt emotions siblings feel towards each other. RIE teaches us that this is OK. It is OK for our children to feel these things and using punishments to deter them will usually only serve to deepen the emotion felt. In an attempt to foster the love and connection between siblings it is our role to stay neutral and allow our children the room they need to express negative feelings as well as resolve their own conflicts. This does not mean we ignore the fighting, the bickering and struggles. No, we use some of the aforementioned tools such as sportscasting and acknowledging feelings throughout heated moments and try not to solve the problems for the children, rather, let them know we trust them to figure it out wherever possible.
Helping Kids Adjust to Life With the New Baby ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)
Could Not Forcing a Toddler to Share Help With Sharing Conflicts – Part One ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
Could Not Forcing a Toddler to Share Help With Sharing Conflicts – Part Two ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
7 Things I Should Know About Helping my Children to Share ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids)
Separating Our Children is Bringing Them Closer ~ Kate Russell (Peaceful Parents, Confident Kids
The S Word – Toddlers Learning to Share ~ Janet Lansbury (Janet Lansbury – Elevating Childcare)