Added together, I have spent more than two straight years in Montessori training (0-12 plus Catechesis of the Good Shepherd). I am trained to be a Bradley Childbirth instructed and I completed the RIE Foudations Course in Los Angeles. I studied Infant Development at the Erickson Institute in Chicago. I am trained in Infant CPR, Infant Heimlich, and First Aid.
Because of and in spite of this education, my work with parents cannot be separated from my beliefs about children and sometimes I have difficulty knowing where something I “believe’ came from!
I did some very tangible things in raising my children which made sense to me and worked well for our family. We did a 40 day lie-in where mom stays strictly home with baby; breastfeeding; whole, organic homemade foods; daily fresh air and exercise; cloth diapers; predictable routines, uninterrupted and self directed free play.
Yet despite these philosophies we researched and adopted, underneath was a core set of beliefs and attitudes about and toward children.
Here are are some things I know ring true for me.
- I hold a respectful, even reverent, attitude toward babies and children because I believe they are competent, capable and deserving of our highest regard. We should not enter their personal space without asking permission and showing a respectful attitude.
- Children benefit from freedom of movement from the beginning in every sense of the term. They are well served by being out of containers and on the floor. There is a school of thought that children should not be put into positions they can’t get in themselves. This includes propping them up to sit, even in car seats. Through free movement, brain development is strengthened. When a child learns to move and tone his body he is better able to gain control and mastery over his body and interact with his environment in ways that are purposeful and purposeful movement is good for the brain.
- Children have everything they need and sometimes we can best serve them by staying out of their way. They are directed toward that which they are ready to learn and by “teaching” we take away the opportunity for them to self discover. Our biggest job, our most important role is as an observer. They will tell us when they need us to hug them, feed them, teach them. And we can honor them by learning their language. Otherwise, there is so little we need to guide them toward. They will show us and we can follow while scaffolding (supporting enough to keep them safe).
- What we give to children they come to expect and then they need. This includes sleeping on a warm body, television and other screens, 100% attention 100% of the time, a view from a propped up position and much more.
- I advocate for parents being 100% there 50% of the time as opposed to the more typical 50% there 100% of the time. This means all attention is on the child during caring times (feeding, changing, bathing) and other than that, the child has “me” time and lets us know when he needs relationship with us.
- Some additional things I do in my work with children: allow, observe, narrate (give words to emotions), follow, read to, and sing.
- Children benefit from clear expectations. Try not to say no but mean it when you do.
- I respect and honor parents’ personal choices for their own family’s lifestyle. I know for a fact that great children come out of all kinds of parenting philosophies!
- Toddlers are looking for more understanding and independence. They are hardwired to understand our world and how it works and how they fit in. They want to feel empowered in this world and if they don’t feel this they may begin to act out. Helping your child feel empowered will increase impulse control, cooperation and self esteem.
- Sleep is important! There are two important books I recommend for new parents and reading them while pregnant is ideal!