RIE (pronounced RYE) stands for Resources for Infant Educarers and is based off the studies and teachings of Magda Gerber. It is a style of parenting that is based on respect for your child and believing that every child (even infants) are capable, whole people. I first was introduced to RIE parenting about six months ago when I was researching different parenting books trying to find advice on how to parent my almost two year old daughter who had starting to have very intense emotional outbursts.
The two books I started with were by Janet Landsbury (books linked below). The way Janet writes about respectful parenting resonates so much with me. Her easy to relate examples of how to put RIE principles into practice are so helpful. Janet also has a podcast called “Unruffled” which I find myself listening to everyday on my way home from work. I find it to be a great way to put me in the right mindset to care for my daughter after a long day at the office. I am still a newbie RIE advocate, but have embraced the style of parenting wholeheartedly. Below is my Beginner’s Guide to RIE Parenting, these five RIE principles have really helped me as my daugter enters the formative toddler years of life.
- Your child is a Whole Person – Sounds easy enough right? When I first heard this I thought ya ya ya, my child is a whole person, she’s a human I got it… I was too quick to judge… It goes deeper than that. When we think that our babies are WHOLE people right from the beginning we respectfully parent them in a way that values their feelings and thoughts even at the youngest age. Janet makes the analogy of thinking of your baby like an elderly great-grandfather who relies on you for everything. You would treat your great-grandfather with respect and view them as if they were a whole person who has lived through many experiences. This simple thought is so basic but is so powerful for me.
- Authentic Communication – Do not speak in the third person. No more referring myself as “mommy,” by communicating more authentically in the first person your child gets real life communication skills and doesn’t get confused when you call yourself your title. Also, a very important communication skill to master is to SLOW DOWN then SLOW DOWN some more… We have to remember that our child is learning language, so by slowing down we give her a chance to really listen and take in what we are saying.
- Self Directed Play – aka independent play. Children learn through playing, often times they work out some hard lessons through play. Self directed play puts the child in the driver’s seat. I always thought that to spend quality time with my daughter meant leading her in play… “Here look at this, try this, push this” I now believe that this was just confusing her and making her switch too many gears when all she wanted to do is relax and play at her own rate. Play is an inborn trait and all children can direct their own play. To allow your child to play independently you must have trust that she can play on her own. Trust empowers children to play at their own rate giving them the ability to experiment and learn.
- Observe and React – This goes hand in hand with self directed play. Observing seems simple enough, but it’s harder than it sounds! Try it, sit back and just observe your child in play, do not interrupt and just see what happens. Watch for signs that your child wants you to engage. If she initiates eye contact or verbally engages then do so but other than that just sit back and enjoy her imagination running wild.
- Sportscasting – Coming from a place where I thought I had to come in and “fix” everything when my daughter was whining or struggling with something, I’ve learned that it’s best to step back and just observe and react. Sportscasting was hard for me at first, but as soon as I got the hang of it, it came more naturally. So what is sportscasting??? Sportscasting is exactly what it sounds like… Imagine you are watching a game of baseball and the announcer (sportscaster) was giving you the play by play, just the facts on what is happening in the game. When we sportscast with our children you are just stating the facts of what is happening or has happened giving real life facts with no judgment associated with it. When a parent or caretaker does less to remediate a situation the child is left able to make decisions and come up with a conclusion on her own.
Putting all of these principles into my everyday parenting routine has really helped me. I wish I would have learned about them sooner. Below is a Resource List if you would like to learn more about RIE Parenting.
Beginner’s Guide to RIE Parenting Resource List
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Books that I have read on RIE:
Books that I want to read next: