Yesterday Lilly went to her first RIE class. RIE is a childhood education and caring philosophy that has always spoken to me. I don’t want to go into the whys and why nots of what RIE is to me, but I was thinking a lot about something that the teacher brought up and how big a deal it is. (for me)
Someone was asking about how to react if your child pulls your hair or hits you? The teacher said that your very first reaction, the first time the behavior happens, how you react that very first time is the most important thing of all. If possible to have absolutely no reaction at all, then you completely deflate the situation. This will set the stage for all behavior of that kind to come.
What a simple concept and in my experience one that has ongoing and profound implications.
Everything I do with Lilly in the course of the day I can watch and trace back to whatever her first reaction was. At the park. The things she does on her own vs. the things she asked for my help or guidance all stem from whatever happened the first time.
Even the comical moments like when we go out in front of the house late in the day. Lilly eventually starts walking to our next door neighbors, where she will then head up the driveway and go and sit on the front stoop. Why? There is nothing there of particular interest, it’s like the emperors new clothes once you get there, but the first time it happened (ok, maybe the second), I was like “ok guys, we are not invited here, let’s go back to our house please”, etc, etc. all the while I am picking her up and transporting her back to our lawn. That’s it, as simple as that, but today when she starts to walk over and then turns and looks at me and I start following, her immediate reaction is giddiness, she speeds up and makes a break for the “forbidden” front stoop. I laugh inside every time.
This whole concept of what gets cemented into a childs mind has far reaching implications, it also make me go back to my fundamental thought process with kids, when I am in doubt or just want to have a better perspective on what is going on I really try to put myself in the mind of the child, what do they really know? Not a lot, it is pretty primal in there, things feel good, do that again, makes daddy have a funny reaction or get “mad”, definitely do that again. Put it in your mouth, always a good idea, something hurts, stay away. If I can try and imagine what Lilly or Luke is thinking in these terms about whatever it is that I am observing, I will be much closer to helping them and myself have a better, less stressful, more fun experience.
And that to me is the whole enchilada.
Helping your four year old have his daily 4pm bowel movement with a very curious 16 month old in tow, inside a public restroom is a very stressful experience.