In the interest of bringing out the best in parents and young children, I talk a lot about allowing babies and toddlers to move about and explore and touch things.
Of course, until they develop a bit more judgment, you need to do some basic safety-proofing of the household environment. Make sure anything that could easily kill them, such as weapons and toxic chemicals, including medications, are out of their reach. You want to cover electrical outlets, block the stairs while the baby is of an age when falling down the stairs is a serious risk, and child-proof drawers and cupboards that contain things that are dangerous to children. Contain your child in a car-seat in the car.
But, beyond these obvious safety precautions, reject fear-based parenting! Who benefits when you parent from a position of fear? Think about it. It’s not you and it’s not your child!
Do not allow yourself to be convinced that the world is so dangerous to your young child that you should prevent all exploration! Why? Because this can seriously hinder your child’s learning an development, and set up a parent-child relationship based on fear and control, rather than mutual respect and high regard.
Do the basic safety-proofing and then let them move about freely – within limits. Look at ways you can make the environment a healthy one for your young child’s exploration.
Here’s an uncommon idea— give your young child a bed he can get out of on his own, such as a futon on the floor. Instead of being contained and needing to cry for an adult to come him out of bed, he can get himself out of bed and move actively around his environment. How would you feel about the important people in your life if they kept you physically restrained at all times?
At Montessori school, all the babies sleep on futons on the floor, from the time they come to us as young as 2 months old. By about 6 months old, they have the capability to get themselves out of bed and they do it without crying. That’s a whole bunch of times every day that they don’t need to cry to get what they want—and that’s a good start! They develop their motor skills and embark on a world of learning and our relationships with them are warm and supportive, instead of thwarting and frustrating.
Toddlers are especially interested in doing things for themselves. You don’t need to have so many power struggles and tantrums if you let them do more for themselves.
What is one way you can let your child do more for him/herself this weekend?
And let us know how your child responds.
Ginny Trierweiler, Ph.D., www.bornforbrilliance.com, 303-973-6105