Want a Self-Confident Kid? Try This.

One of my favorite RIE® Basic Principles is “trust in the infant’s competence.” Starting from birth, we trust that our baby is capable of—and interested in—learning and exploring the world to the degree she is ready. This means we allow her ample space and time to reach milestones on her own, or even to do things like grasp a toy without our help.

The big idea behind this principle is that, if given the space and time to learn and explore on his own, our child will not only develop beautifully, he will also cultivate a sense of his own capacity and capability from a very early age. 

I think this principle is applicable to our children long past infancy—indeed, throughout their developmental years. Here’s how trusting our kids’ unfolding can look as they grow.

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What if You Stopped Teaching Your Child?

My son recently got it into his head that he HAD to try ice-skating. So, over the holidays we took him to one of the seasonal rinks set up around the city at this time of year for San Francisco kids who otherwise might never see a real ice-covered anything.

The rink was, as my Irish friends say, chock-a-block with kids and adults of all ages. I’d say the average skill level was Dangerously Unsteady, with a couple of Just-Starting-To-Get-It folks thrown in the mix. One very thrilled, Approaching-Intermediate-Level Dad was zooming around the rink, narrowly missing taking out an unsuspecting skater with each lap.

I took one look at this scene and immediately went into Professor Mom mode. We got my son’s skates on, and I started coaching him on how to walk over to the rink without breaking his ankle. We secured one of those skater-assistance devices that’s a bit like a walker on blades, and bravely hobbled onto the ice.

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