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RIE Parenting

RIE is an acronym for Resources for Infant Educarers.  Read on to learn about RIE parenting.

When/where did it originate?  RIE was founded by infant specialist and educator Magda Gerber in 1978.

What is its main tenet?  The main tenet of RIE parenting is the belief that parents and caregivers should recognize infants as complete (but not yet mature) humans who display their own initiative, have goals (i.e., to learn about the world and people around them), and participate actively in their own development; and parents should respect the infants’ right to self-determine, learn, and develop within their own parameters with help or direction from parents and caregivers only when necessary.

What is an example of how you would execute RIE parenting in your day-to-day life?  In stereotypical parenting, you want your infant to learn to walk, so you encourage crawling, use of a walker, and subsequent actual walking to accomplish your goal.  In RIE parenting, you operate with the belief that your infant wants to move, learn how to operate in the world around him/her, and will thus master walking with minimal help from you . . . on his/her own timeline . . . because walking is one of the infant’s goals.  You let the infant learn to walk in the manner and on the schedule that s/he chooses.  You do not use a walker as this constrains the infant’s motion.

Is it true they’re against using high chairs, baby gyms, baby carriers, baby swaddling, and why?  In RIE parenting, it is believed that infants want to move, so restraining infants is generally discouraged.  Instead, infants are free to move about their environments.

What are the benefits of RIE parenting?  The goal of RIE parenting is to create the environment necessary to raise a child “who feels secure, autonomous, and competent.”  The benefits may extend beyond the achievement of this goal.  When parents and caregivers spend more time listening to what infants are trying to tell them and less time trying to shape the infants per the adults’ expectations, the parents and caregivers can truly get to know their infants and a true dialogue between adults and children can begin, each sharing responsibility for the children’s development.  Children will not feel insecure, dependent, incompetent, forced into being something that they do not want to be, or denied the opportunity to be something that they do want to be.

Magda Gerber has taught parents and caregivers “to wait, to watch without preconception, to observe with genuine curiosity, to see what the baby was trying to tell us . . . to get to know not the infant we have in mind, but the actual infant before us, and to respond quietly, gently, slowly to its cues and initiations, and to respond not only to its needs but its competencies as well.” (Quoted from rie.org)

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