Thursday, August 10, 2023

Feeling discouraged

I admire the parents who attend my classes; they are thoughtful, wise, and have the most provocative questions. One day, they came to class feeling discouraged, this is what they said, “We like what we do with our children: providing freedom, validating their feelings, spending time together – connecting, but there are times when we feel it is never enough for our preschool-age children. We feel resentful sometimes and discouraged.” 

A few thoughts came out of this conversation:

1. Perspective

We cannot trade empathy for good behavior. It just doesn’t work like that. So we might need to start by changing our expectations of the outcome when we validate our child’s feelings.

Go for ice cream, laugh, and connect!! Spending time with your child one-on-one will help him feel loved, safe, needed, and important. In addition, it also might affect his behavior in a positive way. Just don’t try to go there with the expectation, if I do this ____, you have to do this _____.

Go there with the expectation, when I do this _______, I hope that I am fostering your emotional intelligence, helping you feel secure and comfortable with different feelings.

2. Connection

Connection is one of the most important needs human beings have. This is why – always start with the connection first before any corrections and requests.

Sometimes a very short gesture: hug, touch, look, or soft words can change the whole dynamic. For any child, it is very important to have a parent who is emotionally responsive. Parents who send a message: “I hear you, I see you.”

Connection through humor and playfulness – helps the tension to go down, children feel at ease, and parents too. Bring silliness into the process of washing hands, putting socks on, or getting out of the house. 

3. Tolerating disappointments

Sometimes we might believe that if we validate all types of feelings, it means we give in to what they are asking for. As well as having to allow any kind of behavior. One time, I was talking to Melani Ladygo. She said that respect is not doing what your child asked you to do. It is to listen and take it into consideration.

So, after a fun day out with your child, he still wants to have more time with you. You can listen, acknowledge, empathize, and tolerate his disappointment. Allow him to cry or pout; don’t try to convince him that he had enough good time. 

4. Unmet needs

Ask yourself what else might be going on. What kind of unmet needs might be involved?


  • your older child started school,
  • he overheard a heated conversation between his parents,
  • something happened between him and his friend.

5. Parents’ needs

Parents need a break and recharge too. We do not always even permit ourselves to rest or have fun. Eventually, it does make us snap or feel resentful. Try to add to your “to-do list” a short break for 10-15 minutes  – what will it be? Ask for help, and trade with your partner the time you spend with your children. Brainstorm other ideas! Sometimes it could be as small as being able to go to the bathroom alone for five minutes.

Wishing you all the best in the difficult yet exciting journey of parenting!

If you need more information, email or call me for RIE® Parent-Infant Guidance™ Classes.


Teacher Kira

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Welcome to class


I’m happy to welcome you to our RIE® Certified Parent-Infant Guidance. The foundation of Magda Gerber’s Educaring Approach is respect. In our class, we will demonstrate respect for babies in our small daily actions, such as being slow, letting our baby know before picking him up, and waiting for the baby’s response before acting. We will observe, be curious and learn from our baby.





1. Walk in slowly – take your time

Young children’s processing time is slower than for grown-ups and everything is new for them.  Babies will really appreciate your effort to slow down.

Walking in is a transition: you walk from outside into the building, the door is closed and makes noise, there are other parents, they are talking, maybe they are moving. Oh, and there are also babies, they are moving, making noises, and possibly crying. 

I tell my parents “You are never late to RIE class.” Yes, of course, I would love for you to enjoy all 90 minutes of class, but if your child slept longer than you expected or something else got in your way – please, don’t feel stressed – you are welcome to class.

Take your shoes off slowly, wash or disinfect your hands, and place your bag against the shelves on the other side of the play area. Slowly walk into the class and choose a comfortable spot – you can use a yoga chair if you wish.

2. Pick a spot

Try to keep the same spot every class, this way once your baby is mobile he will know where to find you. *It doesn’t mean you can’t move around the class – it is a flexible environment.

3. Stay with your baby for as long as your baby and you need

When you walk into class, you might see other babies on the cover playing and exploring. You don’t have to put your baby down just yet. Stay together for a few minutes, give him time to look around and see if he is ready.

4. Put your baby on his back

We always start with the back position. This is the position from which a child can decide to turn on his tummy or turn sideways and get into a sitting position. Natural development is important. Babies always do what they are ready for. Your child might be more active at home and seem like he does more at home. It could be because he is observing, taking it all in, and getting comfortable.

It doesn’t mean we don’t believe in tummy time (a common myth about RIE); it means we believe in baby-led tummy time.

“I wish doctors had enough time to be able to observe how a baby is moving naturally, to share these observations with parents, and to point out to the parents how competent a baby is at any stage of development. This might help the parents to observe and appreciate what the child is capable of doing and to stop worrying and pushing toward the next milestone, for which the baby may not yet be ready.” – Magda Gerber

If you have a toddler walk together and let him choose to either seat with you or go to explore the room.

5. Toys

Observe what your child decides to do, and how he feels on the cover. It could be tempting to bring toys to the baby, especially when he is not quite mobile. Children are rarely upset about being under-stimulated, yet they are very often upset when they are overstimulated.

“Frequently young babies are subject to too much stimulation. Often adults do not recognize an infant’s need for peace and quiet.” — Magda Gerber

You observe that your baby pushed or kicked away all the toys around him. Here are a few ideas of how you can respond:

6. Observe

Sensitive observation is the best part of the class. When we are quiet and watch our babies with “soft eyes” we can learn so much about them. It is a great opportunity to connect with your child. Also, your child receives a great message from you — what he does and how he plays is interesting and important to you.

7. Q&A

Feel free to ask questions and bring topics to the conversation.

Our goal in class is to help children to be authentic, confident, focused, and cooperative. They find inner direction, self-initiation, and intrinsic motivation. I hope this experience will be meaningful, rewarding, and helpful to your family, giving you the opportunity to see your baby with new eyes.

Email me or call for more information about RIE® Parent-Infant Guidance™ Classes.

Wishing you all the best in the difficult yet exciting journey of parenting!


Teacher Kira

Beyond Diaper Change

One of the parents in my RIE®Parent-Infant Guidance class approached me about cooperation during diaper changes. The dad said it was so easy with Sam when he was younger and now when he is one year he is moving so fast, that diaper changes become a race.

We talked a bit about diaper change and what parents can do before and during the process. Cooperation builds through different interactions throughout the day when children get the opportunity to be involved, have time to process, and time to participate.


I want to illustrate a few opportunities for you and your child to build connection and cooperation:

1. Picnic

After a picnic, you are ready to pick up the blanket, but your child is still in the middle of it. Although the fastest solution is probably to pick up your child and move him, try something different: let the child know you want to put the blanket away, show him by holding the corners and wait. See what happens. It might take your child a minute to process what you are communicating and then he will move. What just happened: the child gets the opportunity to participate and respond to what you are asking. It feels good to be involved, it feels good to cooperate. And, yes, you will not always have time for it, yet there will be plenty of moments (such as a picnic in the park) when you don’t need to be faster.

2. Hand washing

Before meal time and after playing outside you probably want to wash your child’s hands. When children are young, the main part of hand washing is on the parent: bring the child to the sink, open the water, get the soap, wash and dry their hands. Try something different: start with letting your child know what you want, and give your child a moment to process – you will be surprised that your child might choose to walk or crawl to the bathroom. Ask your child for his hand and again give him a moment again; wait for your child to move his hands towards the water. See what other part of the participation your child wants to take – it will change every day. Every day your child is gaining new skills, a new understanding, and a new level of participation.

3. Waving goodbye

Aunt Marie is leaving. It is so tempting to grab Sam’s hand and wave to Marie using his hand. This kind of prompt might not be necessary. Try something different: You wave to Aunt Marie and wait; there is a big chance that in a minute Sam will want to wave too. And if not, he will do it next time.

Let me know if you need more information about RIE® Parent-Infant Guidance™ Classes.

Wishing you all the best in this difficult yet exciting journey of parenting!


Teacher Kira

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Independent play

One of the parents in my RIE® Parent-Infant Guidance™ Class shared with me a story about how minimal restructuring of the home environment helped her gain an opportunity to do some work during the day and supported her daughter's independent play.

This is what she told me: “My daughter has always been good at playing alone. When she was first born she had some medical issues that required her to stay in the NICU. We took turns holding her for 12 hours a day which we continued after we came home slowly working on time spent alone on a mat on the floor as she spent more and more time awake. Slowly things normalized. My husband went back to work and I was left to care for the baby while doing the usual household chores and some computer work. As she got older, I needed to add about 10 minutes of “special time” before asking her to play by herself for a longer stretch of 10-20 minutes. I always checked and double checked that her basic needs were met before sitting nearby and working while she played by herself.

When she showed signs of becoming mobile, a friend offered to lend me her a plastic fence that makes a circle to contain your child. I worried we didn’t have enough room in our modest one story house. Why not baby proof the living room and her bedroom and let her roam between the two rooms?

Until she began climbing up on the couches, which really wasn’t until she was about 16 months old, we were able to manage. She crawled or walked between the two rooms while I worked. Sometimes she stood next to me and cried while I worked on the computer, but we limped along. We both adapted and escalated our behaviors: she complained more loudly, I became better at doing my work with frequent interruptions to keep reassuring her.
When she started climbing, she was able to reach the computer and touch the keys or activate the touch screen. Her actions made it impossible to continue working for me. One day I noticed that I was moving -- jumping up and dashing, really -- between the two couches in the living room, sitting on the backs of them, and holding my laptop in the air to typing a few words at a time while my now very active toddler pursued me back and forth across the room protesting the whole time. It’s astounding how ridiculous habits can form almost without notice!

At dinner, our daughter is often done quickly and we put her in the living room to play while we finish dinner and talk in the other room. It’s a nice part of the day. My husband and I can catch up and our daughter can play by herself for a few minutes before bath. I mentioned to my husband the struggle that had developed every morning. He suggested working in a different room. Being in the same room with her, he thought, wasn’t really giving me time to work or her the independence to play alone.

The next day, I made sure she was fed, dry, and gave her some special time. Then, I brought my laptop into the kitchen and worked at the kitchen table while my daughter played quietly and diligently in the other room. Bliss! That same week, she took a tumble off one of the couches and I realized there were a number of dangers in the living room that did not make it a true “yes space.” We had done enough baby proofing so that we didn’t have to follow her around policing her every movement, but there were books on the bookshelf she could pull on to her head (and eat!), the couches, and a coffee table to climb onto.
Her bedroom is very baby-proof because she sleeps on a mattress on the floor and could get up in the middle of the night and roam around. So the following day, we did snack and special time, and then I put the baby gate up in the doorway between the living room, where I would be working, and the hallway to her bedroom (all the other doors of the hall were closed). I told her I wanted her to play alone in her bedroom while I worked in the living room. There were a few moments of fussing at the gate. I met her there and listened to her concerns, rubbed her back, but told her I wanted her to keep playing in her room while I was nearby in the living room.
It worked! Now I make sure every day includes some time where she can play alone, even days when I don’t have work to do. Sometimes she closes the door! When I check on her, I’m always amazed by how focused and busy she is with truly unique play. There are days where she isn’t feeling well, or is tired, and being alone is harder. On those days I give more support (by meeting her at the gate, touching her, and listening to how she is feeling) and ask her to play alone for just a few minutes. Most days she prefers to play alone for up to 45 minutes! She has become more relaxed about the times I go into the other room and she can’t see me for a moment, and her play, in general, has become more “hers.” She loves people and visitors, but recently a visitor came over who was a little too involved in her play. She actually got up and went to play alone in her room! She is, and always has been, really and truly a whole and complete person with a rich inner life and unique inner motivations."

Photo credit: Rhys EST2018, Brooke Cagle, and Jelleke-Vanooteghem

Saturday, April 19, 2014

“I see you are Interested!”

Limit setting and discipline are two topics that are often brought up by parents during our parenting class discussions.
Today in class we had a great opportunity to see how we can be respectful and kind and help children understand what our limits are as well as embrace child’s curiosity and interest.
Two children Finny and Jimmy (18 months old), came to me when they saw me with a new object - a clipboard with paper.  To them it was a new item that was worth exploring.
What observant children we have, they spotted something new right away.  In addition, I think, they also wanted to connect with me, so they came over. First came Finny and for the longest time, she touched the papers, the clipboard, and talked her “rolling tongue” way with me. I stated what I observed and I did not let go, "Yes, that is my paper, and a clipboard.” I paused. Finny was still interested, I made another observation, “Yes there is writing on the paper. You are curious.” When Finny began lightly pulling on my paper, I said:  “I'm going to hang on to this.  I see you want it, …pause… I'm hanging on.”  She was watching me intently and trying to get it from me but was also listening. 
Then Jimmy came over and the same thing repeated with him, except he was more interested in my pen.  I let him know that it is my pen for writing and I'm going to hang on to it, I paused and watched him and said “it looks like you are interested in my pen.”  Jimmy looked from his sister to me and processed the information I was giving him, I’m holding on to the pen, yes it is a pen and I’m using it.  Jimmy stopped pulling on the pen and watched me intently.   After hearing it a few times, he decided to move on.
In similar situations, when a child wants something that you are not willing to let go of or share, you can send children the message of understanding and value their curiosity while also letting them know what the boundaries are. 

Be positive about child’s intention to explore and clear about your limits:
  •          State what you see. “I see you are interested in my pen.”
Show with your tone of voice that you are interested and positive about the child’s intention to explore.
While you are making the statement - gives you a minute to evaluate the situation: is it going to be a limit or are you are willing to give the item to the child to explore?
  •     State: “I will not let you…” or “I don’t want you to …..” or “I am not ok with ….” Or “I’m not done…” Show with your body language and follow through. Remain calm. Be consistent and confident.
It is important to send our children a message of confidence when we set limits. It helps children to feel secure.
  •    Give simple and short explanation of why you are not willing to give an item to the child. “I need this pen for writing.”
Think what is the need for Jimmy and Finny to reach for the clip board and the pen?
  • Is it a ‘need’ for connection? – Should I stop what I am doing and connect with my child now or should I tell him when I will be available.
  • Is it a ‘need’ for discovery? – Should I add crayons and paper to my child’s environment?
  • Is it a ‘need’ to assert himself? — Should I provide more choices when possible? (Asking a child do you want to draw or read?)
Yours in parenting,

Our Parenting Place is a program nurturing children, parents and teachers.  It was established in 2010 and serves families in the San Gabriel Valley.  We offer RIE Certified Parent-Infant Guidance® classes for children and their parents 0-3 as well as hands-on classes for children 4 and above.  Take a look at our website for more program information:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Visiting the Dentist

Ugh, this week I’m due to visit my dentist.  How many of us look forward to visiting a dentist?  . Visiting a dentist can be a stressful event for children as well as adults.
As I try to think about my childhood visits, I can’t recall what it was that triggers a negative feeling about the visit.  I know I should go if I want to keep my teeth and gums healthy, but why do I dread going and feel nervous each time I’m scheduled to go…

Now that I have children, and I know I have to take them to the dentist, knowing that they might feel the same way as I, I asked a few dentists what they would say to parents of children as they make that important visit, what tips they’d give to recommend an easier, smoother transition to the visit:  This is what they said:   
·         Visiting a dentist helps support healthy teeth
·         Prepare your child for the visit – letting him/her know and what to expect.  Give simple information; often parents send their own messages of anxiety to children – avoid doing this. 
·         Tell your child that doctors/dentists are our hero’s – they help us with keeping our teeth healthy. 

To support healthy teeth:
1.    Diet.
Milk and juice should be given at mealtime only. Avoid giving milk at nighttime or bedtime, which is often the case.  Serve nutritional food: fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurts, cheese etc, rather than processed food from a box.

2.    Vertical transmission of cavity-causing bacteria.
Children are born without these bacteria.  Word of caution to parents:  Do not blow on your child’s food to cool it; your breath may contain small droplets of saliva, which may contain these bacteria. Refrain from sampling your child’s food. Do not place your child’s pacifier in your mouth to clean it. Rinse it off with water before giving it back to your child.

3.    Regular dental check up and cleaning every 6 months.
It is easier to prevent the disease or take care of the problem right away, rather than try to treat an advanced dental problem.

4.    Childhood caries is an infectious disease.
Childhood caries must be treated as soon as possible, even if it affects baby teeth and not permanent teeth.

5.    Establish daily brushing and flossing routine.
Flossing maybe hard for young children, floss aid tools can help.
 Prepare your child for the visit:
1.    Be honest with your child and let him know about the visit in advance. Inform your child what to anticipate without getting too detailed: “The dentist will count, check and clean your teeth.” These are examples of getting too detailed: “Dentist will use picks, tools and drills to check your teeth", can cause apprehension.
You might want to check out a book about going to the dentist from the library or create your own simple story with simple illustrations, to tell your child what to expect. There are many good children's books on dental visits such as Bernstein Bear story books. 

2.    Avoid phrases such as: “It’s not going to hurt” or “Don’t be scared” or “you will be ok” or “The shot will be very fast, you won’t even feel it.” Phrases like that come from our personal fears.   We are trying to convince and calm down ourselves that everything is ok. Children are easily influenced when we are anxious and scared. You want to build trust by being truthful and empathetic.

3.    Do not threaten your child with a visit to the dentist:  “If you eat too much candy we will have to go to the dentist” this will cause a negative cause and effect situation. 

What doctors can do to support a child: 

  1. Narrate his actions – often dentists who see children have this as part of their routine, to tell the child what to expect.  Talk slowly about the procedure: “I need you to open your mouth to see your teeth.” “I am going to put this mirror inside; it will be a little bit cold.”

        2. Let the child know how long it will take. Show the time passing with a clock.
Most children are apprehensive of their dental visit and the key is to manage it. Length and procedure should match the child's level of acceptance (age appropriate expectations).

3. Do not distract a child with TV, during the process. I know it’s so tempting to do so. It’s important for your child to process what is happening to his body. 

4.  There are many techniques and personality styles that go into play when dealing with a child.  In general, children need to be treated like adults, and adults need to be treated like children: Children need respect, and adults need to be pampered.

Some of the medical advice was shared by by Dr. Trent Kanemaki
and by Hom Edward K DDS
Yours in parenting,
Teacher Kira at Our Parenting Place

Our Parenting Place is a program nurturing children, parents and teachers.  It was established in 2011 and serves families in the San Gabriel Valley.  We offer RIE Certified Parent-Infant Guidance® classes for children and their parents 0-3 as well as hands-on classes for children 4 and above.  Take a look at our website for more program information: