Posts Tagged ‘developmental stages’

The YES Environment!

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Part of our YES environment for active boys includes an indoor swing and mini climbing wall

When my first son was just a few months old, I got the best piece of parenting advice to date. A friend of mine suggested to “always have an emergency sucker in my purse”. Even though she was half joking (and I am kind of embarrassed to admit) this has been an effective parenting tool that has saved us all, myself included, from complete meltdown more than once.

I received my second favorite parenting tip when my first son started to crawl. At that time a friend shared the idea of creating a YES environment in your home. What is a YES environment? It’s arranging your physical space to be baby/child friendly in order to decrease the frequency at which you are saying “no”, “don’t”, “stop” and the like. It’s a bit different than child-proofing as child-proofing typically only assess and removes potential dangers. Creating a YES environment goes a step further to create a space that understands and supports the development needs of young children to actively explore their environment. It also aims to minimize conflict between parent and child. A common example is to have non-breakable kitchenware in a few lower cabinets so that little curious hands can open doors, touch, rearrange, and even crawl into the cabinets. If you were only interested in baby-proofing you would simply put child-locks on ALL the cabinets. However a YES environment recognizes baby/child’s curiousities as valid and provides appropriate outlets for them.

For me having a YES environment means I don’t have very many decorative things around the house. I prefer not to spend energy constantly redirecting baby (or friends’ little ones when they visit) away from breakables. It also means I don’t have nice new furniture because I would rather not feel angry at my children for accidents such as spilling their drink or tracking in mud. I definitely talk with them about being careful, and/or responsible in these situations and may even have them help clean up. However I don’t have to exert energy being overly protective of furnishing and can respond to accidents calmly.

Another important part of having a YES environment for me is actually saying YES to my children when they ask something. Can we paint? Can we play in the water? Can we do playdough? Can we go for a bike ride? Can we take all the blankets and pillows off all the beds to make a fort? YES! Okay truth be told, sometimes (often) my first thought is “no way!”. But then I pause and ask myself why the answer is no? And if a valid reason does not come to mind (please note that “because it’s a big mess that I don’t want to have to clean up” IS a valid reason at times) then instead of resist, I aim to embrace their request. Sometimes the YES comes with limits such as “sure we can paint outside” or a compromise “if you want to play with water you can play in the bathtub” or a deal “okay, but you will need to put them all back when you are done”.

Critics of a YES environment might say “well a child needs to learn boundaries”. And be assured that I absolutely agree!! However I have faith and trust that the unpredictable nature of life itself will inevitably provide ample opportunity for a child to learn boundaries. And I also feel that the less frequently a child hears no, the more attentive and respectful they are when they do hear it.

Do you have a YES environment in your home? If so what does that look like for your family? What do you think the benefits of it are?