I absolutely love RIE, an approach to infant care developed by Magda Gerber based on the work of Emmi Pickler.  I found in RIE a simple, practical, and effective path for helping my baby navigate the rough waters of his first years of life.  One of my favorite aspects of RIE is the belief that a child deserves to be treated with the utmost respect and his feelings need to be acknowledged.  Here’s a great article that goes into more detail, courtesy of one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Janet Lansbury.

Since reading about RIE, I have gained a new awareness of young children’s emotions.  Recently, I have noticed several people telling Zachary “It’s ok” or “You’re fine” when he cries after falling down or bumping his head (which happens often, now that my little daredevil is standing upright!).  With his cries, he is most definitely letting us know that he is NOT OK; it’s hard to know if he’s telling us that he’s hurt, scared, or frustrated, but we have a responsibility to acknowledge his message and try to understand it.  Surprisingly, being able to verbalize the situation by briefly “sportscasting” what happened and providing gentle reassurance has made me feel less useless as a parent while my child cries.  I think that’s why most adults say “It’s OK“; we don’t know how to fix the problem, and so we want to make it go away!!

Browsing through Maria Montessori’s book The Child In the Family, I came across this passage and realized that Dr. Montessori had the RIE thing down many decades ago!!

To say to a child who has experienced something unpleasant, “It’s nothing!” serves to confuse him because it negates an impression of his own for which he sought confirmation.  Our participation, on the other hand, gives him the courage to encounter other experiences and, at the same time, shows him how to relate to them.  They must not be denied, or talked about too much, or analyzed too deeply!  A tender and affectionate word is the only consoling response.  Having had this, the child can continue his observations and experiences by himself, freely, and his physical development will benefit greatly.

RIE and Montessori mesh so well together… My child and I have both benefited from the work of these pioneering women and I am so grateful to them!


3 thoughts on “MontessoRIE

  1. I HATE when ppl say to Violet, “don’t cry” as if this comforts her in some way..I always respond, (usually with an attitude so I need to check myself), “it’s OK if she cries!”.

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. I love this; especially the quote from Montessori, because she really hits the nail on the head. There must be a balance, too much concern is just as bad as the brush it off atitude. We must model compassion while allowing children to develop inner strength!

  3. Reblogged this on childrenworking and commented:
    Yesterday, a parent said to me, ‘Wen, you know, being a parent, is just hard. I mean, it’s not like there’s a manual.’ Yet, this was 1 half of one of the most supportive pair of parents I have ever met. Parents, who have made an incredible amount of time of time to guide their children. Parents, whom I know, are bogged down with work and their own problems, but you could never feel it from them, because when they were with their family, they were with their family. All in all, they were loving and respectful parents. And infant to early childhood hood approaches all share in the fundamental belief in respect and acknowledgement of the human being (even a very small one) and how that translates into the baby’s everyday sleep, wake, eat and recycle. As we seek to educate ourselves in looking after the physical needs of our baby and toddler, remember that s/he is whole being, who is of body and something else, mind, spirit, whatever you want to call it.

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