The RIE Philosophy
Similar to baby led weaning, RIE allows babies to take the lead and initiate their own developmental progress, at their own rate in tune with their own abilities. The philosophy is based around trust and respect for your baby – the trust that they will learn what and when they are ready to learn. This philosophy was coined by Magda Gerber, and has been quickly picked up by parents and educators around the world. So, what can be benefitted from using the RIE philosophy?
Allowing a baby’s motor skills to develop at their own free pace has a long lists of benefits to the child. By creating a physically safe environment for your child to move freely and then allowing them to do so, your child can listen to their body and know what is comfortable for them. RIE means no tummy time. When a child can’t roll onto their tummy on their own, or have limited head control – tummy time is a generally uncomfortable period. They can’t see much, and they are left to simply endure the discomfort until someone comes to move them. This can also be said for sitting a child up on their own, before they are ready. They are essentially stuck, uncomfortable, and form a reliance on adults to move them instead of being able to trust their own body’s ability and movements. When they are able to learn how to get onto their tummy, roll, sit and stand on their own, they tend to move with more ease and grace, and are less prone to accidents as they have naturally become aware of their own abilities, weight, balance and more. This is also a beneficial method for the parents, as you can trust that when a child has learnt to climb something on their own; they are usually aware of how to climb back down. Having an environment for your children to move freely without potential of physical harm is the hallmark of Magda Gerber’s philosophy.
Self-directed play is a fantastic element to RIE. Allowing our children to play with what they choose, without interrupting them allows them to be able to make their own choices and form their own thoughts without projecting our own on to them. Trusting that our child knows their own needs and wants better than we do is a vital part of showing respect for our child, and allowing them to develop their sense of self in turn making their own valid decisions. Picking their own toys also allows time for them to find their own passion and creative sense.
Speaking to our children as though we are speaking to adults (although, perhaps a little more slowly) means that they can build and develop their communication skills in the same way. There is less confusion down the track and inviting them into conversation by asking questions, and always acknowledging their voice (even if you don’t quite know what they’re saying) builds their confidence and communication abilities. The same is to be said for their emotions – you don’t have to understand why they are feeling a certain way, but you must always acknowledge it.
Along with other methods, such as no time outs and allowing them to solve their own conflicts (given they are age appropriate), RIE at its core is simply allowing babies and children to lead their own development and listening, encouraging and respecting them as we would with adults