Creating an Environment of YES!
“No!” “Put that down!” “Get down before you fall!” “I said no, and I meant NO!” As a parent, grandparent, teacher, or caregiver… can you count the times you have said these phrases? Impossible, right? Creating an Environment of YES, changes the whole way of thinking about child development. It’s really a different world from when I was young and even from when my children were young. Children don’t come with an instruction manual and parents don’t have one automatically uploaded to their brain when they become a parent. The “parent” is born the moment their first child is born. But now, wow! The advancement in early education has been such an incredible accomplishment! All we knew, back in the day, was repeating the word “no” over and over until that was practically all you ever said. “No, you can’t have that.” “No, don’t climb up there.” “No, give it back.” “No, No, No, No, No, No!” Ahhhh… that is nothing but frustrating for parent and child.
What is an Environment of Yes?
An environment of yes is simply creating a safe environment for the child. An environment in which there is not a need to say the word “no”. It’s right here that I feel the eyes of the naysayer’s rolling back in their heads. I understand. I too, was… well, let’s just say a negative Nancy when I first encountered the idea. However, the more I thought about it, considered the options… well, it makes perfect sense.
As a mother of three sons, I can promise you that no matter how many times you tell your son “no”, they are still going to climb. I firmly believe its coded into their DNA somewhere. So, instead of becoming an absolute ball of fear, why not look at the environment and make it a safe environment?
Tommy loves to climb trees. In his play area, give him something to climb on. You control the height and safety factors, he still gets to climb. Or, if he’s outdoors exploring nature, set limits and stay close.
Raley loves to pour her drinks out. Her fascination is with the liquid. Give her a cup or bath tub toy and allow her to stand over the sink or tub playing with a bucket of water. She learns acceptable and unacceptable places to pour water and is no longer staining the rugs or furniture.
Jaxon loves to take things apart. He is fascinated by the mechanics of it all. Schedule a time for the child to sit down with an adult and let him take something apart and teach him how to put it back together.
Katie loves to pretend cooking and you often find her in the kitchen. Instead of telling her no, try inviting her to help cook a meal. Observe her skill level, she might surprise you!
How they learn
Kids learn through exploration, trial and error. They learn absolutely nothing from the word “no”. All “no” leads to is frustration and many questions, which piles on the frustration. “But why?” “Why can’t I do it?” “How will it hurt me?” “How come Billy can and I can’t?” You get the point.
As the children are watching you, they are learning. Think about it… what do you want the child to learn from you? Is it how to say no or is it how to become an independent person who has a world of knowledge gained from the positive influences in his/her life?
Making it happen
Make the child a designated play area. Survey the area checking for safety. Look for exposed electrical cords, reroute and put them out of sight. Look for sharp items, remove them. Look for hanging items that the child could get caught around the neck, fix it. Look for objects up high that the child may be tempted to pull down or climb up to, lower or remove them.
If the child is playing outside the designated area, survey the play area and remove any potential safety concerns or if immoveable, make sure an adult is standing near to help if needed. For instance, play yards. Play yards, jungle gyms… they can be quite unsafe if a child is left unattended. However, if an adult is monitoring and nearby, the child is playing in safe conditions.
Don’t think because little Ryan has climbed up to the top of the ladder, he will get hurt. Stay close. Chances are, he will problem solve and find his way down. He may even ask for your assistance… but, wait until he asks before you assist. Children need to learn those all-important problem-solving skills.
Lastly, look back of the times you have said no. Chances are, the child was just trying to get your attention. Make time to incorporate the child into what you are doing. Spending time with your children is an essential part of the framework in creating an environment of yes. The times you spend with your child are quality teaching moments and memories that you will look back on for years to come. Don’t waste those moments, you can’t get them back.
Author: Belinda Davis ©2017