When your little sets off to play on their own, do you hover? A new study has found that sitting back and watching your toddler explore their world is good for your mental health. As part of her PhD at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia, Mandy Richardson conducted the world’s first data-driven study of parenting classes based on the Respectful Approach intervention.
The Respectful Approach, modeled on Resources for Infant Educators (RIE)TM, guides parents to treat young children as capable and independent humans who can flourish if given safe space and freedom from too much adult direction.
Parents were invited to take part in a class for infants or toddlers over six weeks where they observed their children in uninterrupted play in a room with age appropriate toys. The infants and toddlers were free to investigate their environment and interact with other children while parents sat in the room and watched with a facilitator. After an observation period, each class introduced and discussed a topic related to the Respectful Approach.
At the end of the program, parents reported significantly lower stress levels, with more confidence and a better understanding of their children’s capabilities.
Richardson said the Respectful Approach is ultimately about building a trusting, lasting bond with positive communication between parents and children. There is less focus on checklists and achieving milestones, with acknowledgement that each