My Son’s Middle Name is Danger: Allowing Risky Behavior for Little Ones.

IMG_1690Today I read this post by Anna from Mama’s in the Making and it got my blood boiling because I have been in this situation and passionately agree with her points! She clearly states the many positives of letting you little ones take risks; specifically busy toddlers. Boy do I know about busy toddlers as my son is quite the little ‘problem solver’ (that is a nice way of saying ‘complete trouble maker’). In our own house this is fine because we have an environment where he has freedom to play and ‘problem solve’ as much as he wants. It’s when we go to other’s houses or public play areas that the real problem comes.

I was recently in a situation where I was around some overprotective adults who were constantly on his heals for every little slip and fall. I kept quite for a long time until I completely lost it and literally ran in tears. As a mother who takes great pride in my ability to stay calm when my son face plants in the dirt and stands back up laughing, I felt completely belittled. I carefully observe every little move my son makes, evaluating when he needs help, watching him gracefully move in a way most 16 month old children don’t. I see him develope his gross motor skills and sense of physical sense awareness and feel such pride for him. There are many mistakes I have made thus far in my short stint with parenting, but his natural physical development is one thing I have always tried to protect.

In this post Anna says it perfectly: “Risks are part of the game. As soon as babies begin to move around freely they start taking risks. They roll over one side without knowing what will happen when they are on the other side – on their belly. Their head is still heavy and difficult to control, and usually the first rolling over is followed by a bang on the floor or surface underneath. A crucial moment. Do I jump in and support him, place blankets and mattresses everywhere so he won‘t hurt? Or do I let him learn the Art of Falling?” When my son was 4 months old I had to train myself to wait…wait…wait, and then help.There were many hard moments when he would cry when his arm was stuck or he was stuck in a corner. Then came the moments when he would pull up on furniture and fall backwards (onto the pillows I would provide for extra support, so that he COULD fall). Not only does this help with thier motor skills and physical capability, it improves attention span to let them be! Janet Lansbury says: “give babies the opportunity to continue what they are doing, learn more about what interests them, develop longer attention spans and become independent self-learners.”

IMG_4828Our children are going to make mistakes and fall and fail. We can start now by learning to give space and let them find thier own way in life: “Learning to assess risk is learning to judge reality; it is learning what we can and cannot do; it is, above all, learning what to do in a situation when we don’t know what to do. This is a great skill, one that is useful in just about everything we can think of. Knowing how to look at dangerous situations and figuring out what to do to stay safe is definitely something we want our children to learn. Knowing when it is worth making that extra step to the other side might be one of the things that will determine how they fare in life. Essentially, knowing how to take risks means also knowing how to stay safe… most of the time. After all – sometimes risking in life is exactly what allows us to go where we need to go, and maybe find our own path.”

Next time when I am in danger of fighting and running in tears in frustration, I will try to simply say: “I trust my child, please trust me.”

What are your thoughts? I would love to discuss this with Mom’s who have a different perspective.

The Joy of Work in Early Childhood

I am so excited to be writing this post! My child has officially entered this stage and I couldn’t be happier! We spend so much time together because my son will come up to me just to imitate my actions. “Do you want to help mommy,” I will ask and then hand him his own copy of what ever I am doing. He will sit and work with me until he eventually wanders off into something else.

Work is his play and play is his work! What I mean by that statement is that when children work with you, this is play for them as well as great quality time with mom or dad. When they play this is the work that will develop their growing motor skills and mental capacities. I highly recommend reading Freya Jaffke’s book, Work and Play in Early Childhood for more wonderful information and tools on this concept. Freja Jaffke was born in 1937. She worked at Reutlingen kindergarten in Germany for many years and now lectures throughout the world in teacher training colleges. She provides tried and tested advice on this important stage of development.

On this great Parenting Passageway Post on chores, Carrie writes “I remark here that rhythm in the practical work of the home and working TOGETHER in joy is what lays the foundation of wholly independent work… IMITATION is also another way to help children learn about chores when they are young.” Here, she lists a great number of chores that can be done with your children, including (for your toddler) “wipe tables and counters with damp sponge, wash vegetables or tear lettuce, help provide water and food for pets, help clean up after play and meals, water plants outside, pick up toys and books, throw things out for you, help clean up spills and messes…” and many more on the post!

Your little ones LOVE to help you and love the time with you in this way because all they want is to learn to do what we do as adults. So here is the amazing thing: you CAN get your housework done with small children in the house! Don’t wait until they go to nap because then they miss all of the fun! Do your work around them and they will come to you to help. Include them. “Do you want to help mommy wipe the counter? Here’s a rag for you!” “Do you want to help mommy fold laundry? Sit on my lap and we will do it together!”

I am so enjoying this part of my sons development and everyday I think of all of the fun housework we can do together. For those of you that do not love housework, you may think I’m nuts. But if you try housework with your little one, you may find that there is a level of enjoyment that you never thought possible.

What are your thoughts on housework with your child? What are your plans for implementing chores with your young family members?