The RIE Approach -  Is It Right For Your Family?

The RIE Approach

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Have you wondered about the various ways of parenting across the world? Do you want to know of some positive changes you can bring about in your parenting style? Have you ever heard about the term ‘RIE Parenting’? Have you ever wondered whether it is just another parenting fad or whether it has some merits?

Read our post and learn all about RIE Parenting, and why so many parents across the world feel it works great for them and their children.

What Is RIE Parenting?

The concept of RIE Parenting began in 1973, in the United States of America. Infant development expert Magda Gerber began the RIE Parenting concept. ‘RIE’ stands for Resources for Infant Educators. It is a non-profit organization that has its headquarters in Los Angeles in US. The term RIE is an umbrella term, which means a way of parenting where the infants and babies are given more respect and independence in the way you raise them.

Imagine a situation where your baby is crying, and you reach out to help soothe her. Once you check your baby, you may find out that the reason she is crying is due to a wet nappy. You immediately take out a fresh nappy and lay him down to change it. Your baby is happy and changed, and you have done a great job as a parent.

[ Read: Tips On How To Be A Good Parent ]

If you were to look at the above situation from the point of view of RIE Parenting, the scenario would be very different. If, as a parent, you follow RIE, you will first talk to your baby about what is going to happen. Instead of just going through the motions, you will help her understand why you are about to do what you will do. So, even as you pick up the diaper, you will tell her that you are now going to change her diaper, as she is wet and needs a change. Once you have changed her diaper, you will tell her that now you have changed her diaper, and she is fine again.

Some parents are confused that the RIE Parenting technique requires you to treat her as an adult. The idea behind RIE Parenting is not to treat her as an adult. All babies should be treated like babies, and that is what the philosophy of RIE Parenting promotes as well. However, RIE Parenting does lay emphasis on the fact that, as a parent, you should also include respect in the way you treat your baby. Just because she is small and cannot revert to you, or has to listen to you, you shouldn’t treat her without respect or consideration.

[ Read: Different Types of Parenting Styles ]

What Is The RIE Approach Of Parenting?

According to the RIE approach of Parenting, respect is one of the strongest and key features you should exhibit in your interactions with your baby. As a parent, you will not only have to feel respectful towards your baby, but you will also have to show the respect in the way you behave. You will have to treat even your youngest baby as a unique individual and not like an object or a tiny being who does not have a say in things.

What Is The Goal Of The RIE Approach Of Parenting?

The RIE approach of Parenting has a very clear goal behind its way of interacting with your baby – to create an authentic child. According to RIE Parenting, an authentic child is a child who will be secure, will feel competent and will have a unique sense of independence. The RIE approach of Parenting says that the building blocks of creating an authentic child start from the time your child is a baby or even an infant. When you start treating her in an authentic way and give her importance, it will help your baby feel more loved and appreciated. The way you speak to her, the way you look at her and involve her in various everyday activities can shape the way your baby will grow up. It can have a lasting impression on her entire personality.

Here are a few key goals that the RIE approach of Parenting believes in:

1. As A Parent, You Have To Trust Your Infant’s Competence:

If you follow RIE Parenting, there are certain qualities that you have to believe your infant is capable of.

  • You should know that your infant or baby can be an initiator. It means that your infant or baby can initiate simple things that are crucial to growing up. It also means that your baby is curious by birth and will want to explore new things as a part of growing up.
  • When you raise your baby as per the RIE approach of Parenting, you provide your baby only the basic help and guidance. You put your trust in your baby’s intelligence and allow your baby to make use of basic skills to move ahead.

[ Read: Ways To Tackle Your Bad Parenting Skills ]

2. As A Parent, You Observe Your Baby With Sensitivity:

One of the main requirements, when you follow the RIE approach of Parenting, is that you have to observe the way your infant behaves and reacts.

  • You will have to observe your baby constantly, to understand what your baby is trying to communicate. As a parent who follows the RIE philosophy, you have to let your baby try out things on herself. You also have to make sure that you are always there to gently help and guide your little one, as and when required.
  • Each time you observe and listen to your baby, you will realize that there is a vast change in her. The most noticeable change typically occurs during the first two to three years of your baby’s life. Instead of teaching her everything that you think is correct from your point of view, you will allow him to explore and learn. Such learning, assisted by your guidance, will make the learning process easier and more enjoyable for your baby.

3. Involve Your Baby In Everything You Do:

RIE Parenting feels that while you are carrying out any care activity with your baby, you are forming an important bond.

  • Care activities with your baby are activities like changing your baby’s diaper, changing your baby’s clothes, feeding your baby, bathing your baby, putting your baby to sleep and so on. RIE Parenting philosophy says that each time you canny out a caring activity with your baby, you should make your baby an active participant in the same, instead of just being a receiver.
  • For example, if you are changing your baby’s clothes, talk to your baby about why you are doing it. Your baby should not feel as if you suddenly come and remove the clothes at random. There should be a proper idea and reason behind the same, which you should make clear to your baby. Use phrases like ‘its bath time, let’s change your clothes’ or ‘your clothes are dirty, let’s change into something clean.’ As long as you talk to your baby and give a reason to your actions, your baby will be able to connect the same in a future situation. If you do follow the example, you may be surprised to see that after a few repeats, your baby may point out the dirt in the dress and ask for a change of dress!
  • As a parent, you are the best person in your baby’s life to provide opportunities where your baby will be able to interact, communicate, and cooperate in different situations on a daily basis. If you spend all your together time with your baby in such an interactive way, you will also create a lot of intimacy between your baby and you, which will further strengthen your bond.
  • When your baby feels so loved, safe, secure and wanted, it will create the ideal opportunity for your baby to want to know more. Your baby will go through a kind of ‘fuelled up’ state, where your baby’s curiosity and the urge to learn more will get stronger by the day.

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4. Create A Safe, Challenging And Predictable Environment For Your Baby:

As an RIE Parenting follower, your aim should be to provide your baby the ideal and best environment that will support your baby’s development.

  • Being the parent, you have to provide your baby with a natural environment where your baby feels safe and secure. As long as you make your baby feel comfortable, your little one will want to do things that come naturally to babies, and in the process, learn and reach various milestones.
  • Your baby will function best when you also introduce some form of predictability into your baby’s routine. Repeat routines and follow a pattern in everything you do with your baby to make it more predictable and easier for your baby to learn.
  • Once your baby becomes more mobile than earlier, it is important to ensure your baby has a safe environment to move around. Make enough room for your baby to move around and explore. Remove any items that could be a potential hazard or cause an accident. Do not restrict your baby’s movement, as it will hamper your baby’s natural growth and development pattern.

5. Do Not Interrupt Your Baby Or Create Too Much Structure:

As a parent, you may feel you should add structure to your baby’s life, but RIE Parenting does not stress the need for the same.

  • As your baby grows, you should stop interrupting your baby all the time and instead let your baby learn firsthand. Of course, it does not mean that you do not look after your baby’s health or safety. You will also need to guide and help your baby as and when needed.
  • Give your baby lot of time to play without being interrupted. Instead of teaching your baby all the time, let your baby understand and appreciate things. Also, it is better to not plan your baby’s free time or play time, as it can often be the time when your baby tries out something new, and in the process, learns something.

[ Read: Common Parenting Problems And Solutions ]

Is RIE Parenting Always A Good Choice?

If you have not yet tried out the trend of RIE Parenting and it is bound to raise questions and concerns in your mind. You may feel that RIE Parenting will end your baby’s childhood, and make your baby grow up and mature faster than you would like. You may also feel that your baby will lose out on precious instructions and boundaries that you would otherwise set as a parent if you were not following the RIE Parenting approach.

  • How you wish to bring up your baby is entirely you and your partner’s personal choice. The RIE Parenting philosophy does not ask you to let go, or to treat your baby in a way that is not appropriate as per your baby’s age. It does, however, ask you to be a little more understanding and conscious of your baby’s view in the entire process of parenting.
  • By treating your baby like another human being with an intelligent mind and understanding, you give your baby the respect that is due. It will help to create a positive environment, one that will be loving and mutually beneficial to both you and your baby.
  • If your baby is not too small anymore and is a toddler or a young child, it is still not too late to introduce the RIE Parenting philosophy at home. You can always encourage your child to be more independent, curious and participative. Not only will it help your child feel confident, it will also make you less anxious as a parent.

Now that you know what RIE Parenting is, do you agree or disagree with its philosophy? Would you adopt it at home with your baby? Tell us whether you have applied the philosophy at home? What were the results? Please tell us about any stories, suggestions or questions you have below.

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