I try not to help my son when he is learning a new skill.
It might not sound like too big of a deal, but I have practiced Attachment Parenting (AP) and responded to B’s every cry since day 1 that it sometimes takes more than a little bit of restraint to just observe him when he cries out. And my, oh my, when he does cry out, I just want to do everything for him!
Some months ago, an old friend of mine recommended that I read some of Magda Gerber’s works and look up RIE philosophy. It couldn’t have come at a better time. The little one was starting to reach midline – a precursor to rolling to his side then eventually onto his belly. It was from reading “Your Self Confident Baby,” that I learned the importance of non-intervention when baby is learning a new skill. I also learned to just observe B when he seems distressed – did he really want me to intervene or was he just crying out in frustration?
Resisting the urge to “spot” B was difficult, especially when I knew that tipping him just so would help him accomplish a task. For that, I had my husband, A, to remind me that we were trying to raise a self-confident child.
So far, it seems that our philosophy of zero unsolicited help is paying off. At 32 weeks old, B has reached the following milestones without any help (except for providing a huge padded surface to move freely):
- rolling over from tummy to back and back to tummy
- pushing up to sitting position (no propping up by mommy and daddy)
- pulling up to standing position (no holding of his hands and arms)
(He also learned that wooden headboards and mirrors are hard surfaces and that he must approach them *slowly*)
Earlier today, B decided to venture to the edge of our mattress (which we moved to the floor since he started becoming mobile) – a good 8″ high. I moved closer to him, not to hold him or help him, but to be nearby in case he needed to be rescued. I watched him stretch out to find the floor was just beyond his reach. He pushed forward so that his hands were flat on the floor, his belly in the air, the mattress supporting him from mid-thigh. There was no turning back. He leaned sideways so he could pull his right leg off the mattress and then, plop! He was on the floor, left leg still up on the bed, tummy stuck to the side of the mattress with very little wiggle room. I watched him pause. I imagined him thinking if he was going to ask for my help, but he didn’t. With a special move that I could only describe as “his own,” he managed to pull his body forward to get his other leg down. He pushed up to sitting position and gave me the biggest, brightest smile of accomplishment.
The smile. What a reward for trusting my little one! As for B, I could imagine how pleased he was with himself for being able to do what he set out to do on his own. So pleased, in fact, that he pushed up to the side of the bed to try to get back on . . . but it wasn’t the day for it. I know, though, that he will manage climbing back onto the bed on his own, without my having to push him up. All on his own time.