get up, get up, and get down


One of my friends texted me to ask me what to do because her almost 1 year old loves pulling himself up but then gets "stuck" and can't get down. She's taken one of my classes before and so she knows I always advise parents not to meddle with their babies gross motor movements and, therefore, gross motor development. This is based on the extensive research done by Emmi Pikler, and by Magda Gerber’s Educaring® Approach. She knows I wouldn't have said to help him down right away because of a few things.

1. How will he learn to get down on his own if she keeps taking him down herself?

2. How will she ever get out of the trap of helping him down every time, once she starts?

3. What is she teaching him when he cries for her because he's "stuck" and she just comes and pulls him down? That mommy will always be able to help him get down? will she, realistically?

4. He was able to get himself INTO this position, which means he can probably physically find a way to get OUT OF this position as well; he may just need some emotional support.

So I told her what my RIE® mentors taught me, do the minimal amount to help him.

- Start by waiting, don't do anything for a second or two besides responding and acknowledging his sounds and communication of discomfort. Saying "I hear you, you sound upset" can maybe be enough. If he still protests, cries and seems stuck, just move closer, maybe just the physical proximity is what he needs for some support. 

- If the proximity isn't enough, try kneeling down next to him, almost as if your back is a stool he can hold onto (this is what I do in my classes when children protest because they get stuck on a ramp or inside a box) you can talk to him, letting him know that he can use your back to help him, emotionally supporting him. I told her that this way, she's supporting him instead of rescuing him. 

-If all of the above fails, at least he sees that he doesn't just get rescued immediately. Once she feels he or she can't take it anymore she should say "I see that you're getting really upset and so I'm going to pick you up and put you down" and then assist him, if she must, in getting down. 

The issue here, I know, is that this takes about ten times the amount of time that it would take to just walk over and have taken him down from what he was pulling up on. But just think about how it's the start of him learning to get himself down, think of all the time she'll save not having to get him "unstuck" from this situation the inevitable hundreds of times he's going to pull himself up in his gross motor development future? In addition it showed him that she trusted he could do it on his own, whether or not he took the opportunity this time isn't as important as the fact that she let him know, "I know you can do it." With enough consistency in her responses, eventually, he'll start to have that same confidence in himself.  In the end, how much more valuable is what he's learned in the above scenarios than just taking the fastest route? It reminds me of an article one of my dear friends and mentors, RIE® Associate, Anna Ruth Myers, showed me titled, Faster is not better which you can find here . Slow down Mamas :)