When we see infants and toddlers getting stuck in difficult situations, it is our natural instinct to rush in to help them. After all, we care about our children! When we see a baby climbing on an object and their leg gets stuck, or a toddler coming down the slide backwards with their arm tangled underneath their body we may go over and fix that for them. To make sure they are ok. To make it easier for them.
But in doing so, we take away the opportunity for that child to learn how to problem solve for themselves. To develop faith in their own abilities.
Of course we will always ensure a child is safe, and not being hurt. When we see our infants and toddlers in these challenging moments, we can scan quickly and ask ourselves "Is this child safe?" If your immediate answer to that question is "Yes she is safe," then WAIT!
Wait and watch the child. Observe and notice if/when they might need help. But don't assume that they need help.
Wait and maybe move closer so that the child knows you are there if they need you.
Wait and only offer help when the child lets you know they cannot handle it any more. If you know this child well enough, you will know when that moment arrives.
Wait and if you are not sure if the child needs help, ask them "Do you need some help?" Or "Do you want me to help you down?"
Wait and maybe offer your observation in support "I can see you working hard at that. I have seen you keep coming to work on this step." Or perhaps offer a suggestion "Maybe you could lift your leg back a little?"
By waiting, and being available for support only if needed, we communicate non-verbally to the child that we believe them to be capable. Mastery of one's own actions again and again leads to self confident children who do not constantly need external validation.
Planning for Infants and Toddlers
A recorded webinar for passionate infant and toddler professionals.