Archive for the ‘RIE’ Category


Has anyone ever made it through toddlerhood and not had to think and talk about sharing?

Before about 20 months, my daughter was a dreamy playmate. Caring, thoughtful, concerned, open and giving — she seemed more interested in the people themselves and their feelings than in taking or keeping a particular plaything. I watched friends and strangers going through their own (non)sharing experiences and searching for ways to deal with the issue. I felt gratitude that more children were taking from my child than she was taking from others. A thought flashed in my mind that maybe I’d been blessed with a child so skilled socially that I would have to do little agonizing over sharing.

Then came the reality of child development. My daughter began to explore ownership (mine!) and more complex relationships (other people have needs and wants). She started out fairly easy to redirect. Recently, though, as her verbal skills explode, she seems to be having a harder time with sharing. I have been thinking about and researching ways to help her develop an internal motivation to share (versus an external demand/expectation). [Resources below.]

Here’s what I’m currently striving for as we work together on sharing:

1. I use consistent language, including empathy in the conversation.

I say the same thing at home, before we get to some place where she will have an opportunity to share, when something is happening, and after the opportunities have been experienced. I usually say something like the following:

“You want to play with that toy, huh? Looks like ____ isn’t finished playing with it yet. Maybe when they are finished they will give you a turn.”

I say this knowing that the other child may never “finish” playing with the toy. I also encourage her to ask for a turn using this same language. When we play together I try to use this language often myself so that she can feel the difference between me taking something and me asking for a turn (“When you’re done, can I have a turn?”)

2. I give space for me to observe and my daughter to practice the art of sharing.

This is not easy for me at all. I do want to jump in to “solve” and “direct.” I try to keep my mouth shut until I have observed. I am looking to see what my daughter and the other child are doing and feeling, and I try to give my daughter ample opportunity to observe the other child’s behavior and try out her skills. I also talk to her about waiting and being patient. If she does actually want that thing and is having a hard time we talk about waiting.

3. I use ASL signs: turn, finished, wait, patient, frustrated.

I have a post planned for a while from now on signing, but I definitely find that my daughter responds more quickly and positively when I sign than if I just use my words. When she sees me sign “turn” I see her face register the symbol, and she almost always uses the language from #1. Of course, patience is hard for all of us, so we also talk about being frustrated with waiting. Our strategy is to breathe. Usually by the end of all that, even though it’s quick, she is ready to move on or give her friend some space.

So far, these things have been making it easier for me to know what to do (and what I don’t want to do). My daughter seems to be responding. We still have issues sometimes, but I feel that we have created a foundation for us to build upon with each opportunity that arises.



Teaching the Art of Sharing

How to Teach Sharing by Giving up Control

Baby Teamwork (Sharing because They Want to)

These Toddlers Are NOT Sharing

Should We Stop Babies from Taking Toys?


What to Do about a Toddler Toy-Taker

What Do You Do When Other Parents Force Their Kids to Share?

Those Awkward Moments between Moms when Toddlers Won’t Share

Sunday Surf: Alternative Parenting Info for Family and Friends

Holidays and celebrations usually mean family get togethers and all that comes with those situations.

For many, this is a joyous time when perhaps people who rarely enjoy sharing the same space have a day or more to “live together” in some ways. What happens when the small family unit chooses to live differently than the family at large? For parents who subscribe to alternative/gentle/positive/natural/attachment whatever you call it parenting, the coming together of different styles of raising children can cause tension and frustration. Some families also have a hard time over the phone or the internet.

A few things I think cause trouble are a lack of compassionate understanding of the various “sides” and feelings of judgment and defensiveness that block communication. This happens for everyone, but it seems that the hows, whats and whys of a less typical type of parent are less known (and also, therefore, respected?). I know I wish that my family could read some of the articles that shape my parenting choices.

What follows is a rough draft of my dream list of 10 blog posts to give someone a sense of where I am currently coming from as a mother. (Yes, I reserve the right to change and learn and grow.)

***Last minute addition!***

I just found this post on the 10 RIE principles of caregiving, and it addresses all the main issues I’ve been trying to raise with my own family. I may even share it with said family…….

10 Articles to Help Understand My Parenting Aspirations

Is There a Case Against Tummy Time?!

A while ago, after my daughter had already begun to crawl (and walk?), I came across an article called “The Case Against Tummy Time.”

What?! Tummy time seemed like a sacred thing. Everyone had told me about it; everyone talks about it. People told me to let me daughter get tummy time. I was really more laid back about it and don’t remember making it any kind of priority. (These are the only pictures I could find. I do remember wondering about the whole concept, though, and wondering if I was doing the wrong thing by not having regular tummy time.

3 months

Today at a indoor play place, I overheard two moms talking about how they and their babies don’t really seem to like tummy time. They talked about how important it is. They even seemed to grudgingly encourage themselves to regularly work in tummy time.

The whole time I kept thinking about the post I had read and how I have learned over time to trust my daughter and her human nature more. I was wondering what we might see if we just spent 5 minutes observing their babies on their backs (after reading the post and understanding a bit more what to look for). The tummy time issue just jumped out at me and made me think:

Who knows what wonders we would see if we stopped to look closely enough?

My Plan to Be a Better Mom: Spaces and Organization

I know everyone always says their house is messy (when it’s not), but I really am organizationally and spatially challenged in some ways….like the ways that keep a house clean and put away.

I love to see things organized, love baskets and boxes and labels and rows of things. It’s just that doing whatever it takes to get to that point doesn’t come naturally to me. Whether or not it is my strength, I need to develop a clear sense of organization and purpose in the spaces in our house, for the sake of every family member and friend who inhabits those spaces. Plus, with a little one on the way and due during the middle of winter, I want to make sure my daughter has an engaging and comfortable space to play inside when it’s hard to go outside. I have one room she can kind of take over, but otherwise I have always liked and tried to have a little play space in every room (including the kitchen). This calls for different structures for different spaces. I have some moving around of stuff and furniture to do, but more than that I needed to think on what those play spaces look and feel like.


I know I want them to be organized.

I would like for it to be easy and clear for my daughter and any adult to know where everything goes. “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.” If there are baskets and bins with clear purpose, everyone can use them. Eventually I would love to make my own labels (in English and Spanish and maybe even ASL), like Christine from The Aums did when organizing her clothing station. [Oh goodness, a clothing station was one of the things I wanted to maintain…..and haven’t. Clothes are my own worst offense, and now I’m in charge of someone else’s clothes?!]

I, and my daughter, need the space to be as YES as possible.

The more YES the space, the less “no” I have to say. When she was smaller and just starting to get mobile, everyone was telling me about child-proofing, which we don’t really do much of. Every child is different, and some children need more safety boundaries than others. My daughter has always been a rather safe explorer with a will that can be reasoned with. (Who knows what #2 will be like…could change everything!) She began moving around, and we went through the house trying to make things as YES as possible. This meant that if she could reach it, we had better consider whether we wanted her to be able to reach that thing or not. Well, we need to do that again. She is considerably more mobile now, and I find myself saying “No” more than I need to just because of the way my space is organized and set up…..or not. Ideally everything in reach is touchable and ok for play.

The space, the things in it and the way they are set up should encourage and support opportunities for my daughter’s independence, confidence and sense of belonging.

Once she has a clear, organized space that is mostly YES, I want to make sure the things I put in there and the way it is set up fit her developmental needs. Right now, she wants to do everything she can for herself. One thing I would like is for her to have greater access to food and drink items so that she can pour for herself. However, this means, I need a developmentally-appropriate space for her to be able to do these activities. For instance, right now, there isn’t really a child sitting/work space. Having a more functional, child-centered space will most likely be good for her and good for us (and the new little one).


Now that I had a sense of what I’m looking for, I wanted to do some research and see what other folks want out of their spaces.

I liked what Childhood 101 had to say about creating a child space that is inspirational:

  • Inspires them to play in more purposeful, meaningful ways.
  • Inspires them to learn through those play experiences.
  • Inspires them to value what they have.
  • Inspires them to help maintain the space in an organised way.
  • Inspires who they become…

Reading about Montessori principles and home/school spaces inspired me to get more clearly organized so that my daughter can take more ownership of the activities in her life. Here are some guidelines for spaces:

  • They are attractive, orderly and clean.
  • They have a place where children can store and organize personal items, as well as keep complete and in-progress projects.
  • There is adequate open space for children to easily move around, and for everyone to sit together during group time.
  • Children can independently access their Montessori materials from low shelves. They can also help maintain the order on these shelves. It is also important to have appropriately-sized tables and chairs so the children can sit and move with ease.
  • There should be a few interesting, real-life pictures at child’s-eye level, a few beautiful objects that could break easily, living plants, and pets (even small, non-poisonous reptiles and fish are fine).

Reggio Emilia history, philosophy and approach, in addition to the concept of the environment as a child’s “third teacher,” gave me aesthetic ideas for an overall feel and look. Here are some aspects a Reggio class might have:

  • indoor plants and vines
  • natural light
  • open to view
  • capture the attention of both children and adults through the use of mirrors (on the walls, floors, and ceilings), photographs, and children’s work accompanied by transcriptions of their discussions
  • displays of project work are interspersed with arrays of found objects and classroom materials
  • ample space for supplies, frequently rearranged to draw attention to their aesthetic features
  • encourage community

In addition, there are some RIE principles I’d like our spaces to facilitate. Similarities across the board, here. You are surely seeing a theme emerging.

  • Basic trust in the child to be an initiator, an explorer and a self-learner.
  • An environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing.
  • Time for uninterrupted play.
  • Freedom to explore and interact with other infants.
  • Involvement of the child in all care activities to allow the child to become an active participant rather than a passive recipient.
  • Sensitive observation of the child in order to understand his or her needs.
  • Consistency, clearly defined limits and expectations to develop discipline.

With a better understanding of the principles and values I’d like to encourage, I was ready to look at actual play/learning spaces other people have set up.

NEXT STEPS: Move things around, go through “stuff” (post to come), set up spaces!

I am inspired!

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