May 8, 2014

from the bookstack

Ever since I can remember--before I could even read--I have loved books. And on that wonderful day, when I was able to make sense of the letters on the page, and how they come together to form infinite combinations of verse, there was no turning back from a lifetime of blissful immersion in the written word. I was the child who read books under her desk during each and every class. When given the option of reading or another activity, books always were the clear choice. I find myself now with an ever growing library (not to mention a full Amazon wish list), and love nothing more than to share my love of books with others. I am often called upon to recommend books to friends and family; thus this little series is taking form.

1,2,3...The Toddler Years
by Irene Van der Zande with the Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center staff

Julie and I have been having one of those weeks. It has been long and trying, and I have been finding myself raw and depleted by the end of each day. She's on the threshold of mastering so many new and exciting things, and I know such transitions can be marked with a mountain of frustration along with the joy. Unfortunately, I am not the most patient person in the world, to phrase it mildly. Tantrums and whining test my limits quickly, and gentle, empathetic responses do not come naturally to me in these situations. Still, out of all the parenting ways out there, attachment parenting and non-violent communication resonate for our little family, so I am working hard to cultivate a kind and compassionate attitude in the face of toddler mayhem. Through the hugely inspiring parent and child class we attend at our local Waldorf school, we've gleaned some wonderful information, including some knowledge of the RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) philosophy. This philosophy, which emphasizes respect for babies and young children, the validation of feelings, and gentle conflict resolution, has been invaluable to us.

I finally got my hands on "1,2,3...The Toddler Years", and tore through it in a night, furiously highlighting and dog-earing all the while. The book explains with clear examples how RIE can be put into practice in real life. Real situations from the Santa Cruz Toddler Care Center are used to demonstrate specifics, such as dealing with tantrums, setting limits, and helping little ones navigate the volatile terrain of playtime conflict. The cornerstone of this philosophy rests on helping toddlers to name their feelings ("I can see that you're really upset about..."), recognizing their right to their feelings, and remaining sympathetic and kind even while setting firm limits. The book also explains how we can give our toddlers choices within the boundaries we set ("Would you like to drink out of the red cup or the yellow cup?"/ "Would you like to walk here by yourself to clean up, or shall I carry you?"). It was eye-opening stuff to me, and gave me so many ideas for how to regain some peace in our days. The book was also a fantastically easy read, with short chapters--perfect for the frazzled parent who has no energy left at the end of the day. This is a great book for parents or caregivers who want clear scenarios with real life dialogue, easy reading, and who want a concise intro to RIE. Happy reading!

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