“That’s not a toy!”

3rd Apr 2017

We had a very interesting discussion in one of my RIE Parent-Infant Guidance classes. A parent asked if we agree with the following statement that Jill Getto Lee once introduced in her class: “If you plan to take back an item from your baby, it is not a toy and you shouldn’t let it go in the first place.”  Examples are car keys, phone, glasses, etc.

On of the fathers decided to illustrate a counter argument. He brought up the following scenario: “During class, I just changed my baby’s diaper. While I was changing it, she was holding the wipes. Now I come back to class: I can take the wipes away and risk my baby becoming upset or I can put my baby down and wait until she is done exploring the wipes and once they are down on the floor, pick the wipes up. What’s wrong with this scenario?”

Here are a few ideas on why a parent should hold on to an item that is not a toy that the parent is planning to retrieve:

  1. Building trust and honesty. Often we tell our child with our actions or words that it is okay to explore the item, but our body language sends a different message: that we are actually not very happy about it. In this scenario, the child might feel confused, uncomfortable, and he also might try to figure out your emotions by pushing further.
  2. Melanie Ladygo proposedthat in class we create a “yes” environment, which means children can choose with which items/toys to play with, how to play with them and how long to play with them. When we allow our children to play with fragile items, we will probably end up telling the child “Careful! Not in your mouth. Don’t throw it.“
  3. It will be a great opportunity for the child to learn about limits in a positive respective way.

Saying all this, I also want to emphasize that house rules will be different in each household. For example, playing with tupperware can be a “yes” activity while they may not be accessible in another home.

Wishing you all the best in the difficult yet exciting journey of parenting!


Teacher Kira

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