Thursday, June 9, 2011

Path to Independence

Little Man is growing so fast. His ability to gain independence is in overdrive. He has almost got this walking thing down pat, and I think walking will be a short lived period in his life. He is a Runner... I know it :)

As a baby grows into a toddler, he begins to start making connections with past experiences. He starts to really hone those "reading people" skills. For example... If Ms X puts me down and I cry and hold on to her leg (even though there is nothing wrong) will she pick me back up?? Lets test this hypothesis. Ok, doesn't work with Ms X, put it does with Mr X... so into the catalog in his brain it goes. To be brought out whenever he may need to make that connection again.

Being in Family Child Care, I get the unique opportunity to be a very important person in a child's early life. I know all to well the ins and outs of the way each of the kids in my care act around me and around Mom & Dad. That sometimes I can get a child to change a diaper without the wiggle, squirms and cries a parent might have to endure. It all goes back to the experiences and connections that a child makes with the people and things around them.

I bring this up because Little Man is experiencing so many things right now. I have seen so many emotions in his little face. It is both heartbreaking and exhilarating. To see him make connection that he will later use. Case in point...

(I can do this)

(What's going on, why isn't this working)

(I am not happy with this outcome!!)

(I cannot believe this happened to me!!)

You see, Little Man has been able to get up this slide many, many times with no problem. He doesn't understand why he can't get up this time. If you look close, you will notice he has on sandals. At Shell's house sandals are always optional, but with the fact that Little Man is really getting the hang of walking, we have been putting them on so he doesn't get hurt. This "experience" with the sandals and the slide are not in his catalog yet. He was not hurt or sad in these photos... He was MAD!!! He was frustrated, and annoyed that his feet just keep slipping. I promise, I offered assistance, hugs, kisses, and even a push or two, put he didn't really want my help. This is something he can do himself you see.

Little Man tried getting up that slide for 2 days before he was able to conquer it. You see, having a caring adult, that knows the ability of the children in their care, helps them to know what they are capable of. I knew Little Man was capable of figuring this out. I knew he wouldn't fall over the side, or throw himself backwards. I knew with lots of encouragement and a few examples of what he could do, he would succeed. So, when he got to the top (by bracing his little sandal clad feet against the sides) the smile was enormous. Cheers rang out from all the kids, as well as me. He must have went up and down for another 15 minutes before he moved on to something else. It was amazing. Watching a child figure things out... it was like I could see his little mind working (when he wasn't getting mad of course). When he made it a few steps up, he looked up at me with a look, like "look at me, I'm doing this." My job is really great!!

Now that he has had this experience he can draw upon it later, when he encounters another slide. He will then test out the hypothesis, that if he braces his feet to the edge he can get up.... or can he. Little Man will encounter slides without sides, and slides with slippery surfaces, he may be able to get up some and not others, but they will all be learning experiences he can draw from later on, feeling good about himself because he is able to problem solve and figure out the solutions, even at a year old. The path to independence is an amazing journey for a baby... I am glad I am on this journey with Little Man!!!

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