An Environment of "Yes"


I've been spending a lot of time on the floor lately. Silas can really scoot around now and so I'm not only down there playing with him, I'm also on the endless quest to stay one arms-reach ahead of his little searching hands. In all honesty, beyond some outlet plugs and the removal of a few key pieces of not-too-stable furniture, I really haven't done too much in the way of baby-proofing.

I read somewhere about creating an "Environment of Yes" and it really resonated with me. The whole idea is to prevent having to say "no" all the time by making everything within baby's reach appropriate for him to explore. The default answer for whether or not baby can get into something should be "yes." Instead of putting locks on the cabinets, you would only keep things in low cabinets that it would be okay for baby to play with, for example. So, this is slowly what we're trying to do. As Silas approaches each developmental milestone I move things just a little bit further out of his reach.

I really like the idea of reserving "no" for only those things that are truly dangerous for him to touch. I want "yes" to be my default answer so that "no" retains some meaning. My hope is that when he hears "no" he will really stop and listen because it's not something that I'm constantly saying. My substitute for when he picks up something that I would rather he didn't have, but isn't immediately dangerous, is "Thank you." As in, "Why thank you, honey, for finding that carpet lint for me! I'll just put that in the trash!"

5 comments:

  1. great! an environment of yes is what i strive for too - but sometimes, i really get back in the habit of no's (especially with older kids). good reminder!

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  2. I have never read about the 'Environment of Yes' and certainly my monkeys are WAY TOO OLD for me to not use 'no' or keep things and the truth out of reach- but as babies we never used cabinet locks- our theory was 'WATCH YOUR KID!' I never understood why if you were keeping an eye your little one, locks would be necessary.

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  3. I really love this approach! I don't think we said "no" to our sun until he was about 3 (and then it came on with a vengeance LOL). Sometimes we fear we've created a monster, though. At nearly 5 he still has no clue what that word means. He thinks EVERYTHING is negotiable. And I must say, he's pretty good at it. So, in hindsight should I have eliminated "no" from our vocabulary for those early years? Probably not, so I think you're wise to use it thoughtfully and sparingly :-)

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  4. This is a difficult thing! It's so easy to say 'no'. I also didn't want to use this work so often, but I noticed I did, so I just made everything sure for her. The CD's are the most interesting thing in the world (she can't open the boxes..), so at the bottom are all the ones that are 'worthless' to us. The good ones are on top, out of reach. She doesn't know the difference.. Same goes for the bookshelf. And since the socks are at the bottom, instead of T-shirts, there is no problem anymore if she plays in the bedroom. Cleaned up in three seconds (instead of folding 20 shirts over again), baby happy, mummy happy :). In the kitchen cabinets, I put everything she can break or hurt herself way up, the rest is fine. But there are things that is just a 'no', like the oven or the trash can. It is for me just not managable to watch her all the time. And boundaries are also important for a child, I think..

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  5. We're not quite there yet, but I plan to mostly use this approach, too. Sounds much nicer than going completely crazy with baby-proofing!

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