This post will be more along the lines of emotional nutrition for having a positive state of mind, living in a positive environment and why it is important for a creative life that is truly your own. I first heard of "yes" spaces when pregnant with my son. A wonderful friend told me about blogs by Janet Lansbury and Lisa Gerber, both RIE associates. RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) is a parenting philosophy that focuses on the 0-2 year age range with the main premise being to treat your children (from birth) with similar respect you would to that of another adult. With this, comes creating an environment ("Yes" space) suitable for a young child to grow, develop, explore and play without constant parental interruptions of "No! (don't touch that...)."
There are several great aspects of having a yes space for your baby or young child. First, it is a physically safe place for them to play. You don't have to worry (or take them with you) if you need to leave the space for a moment. It also provides age-appropriate, open-ended toys and learning objects for your child to fully explore, learn from and experiment with. Your child takes the lead as to what interests him instead of having a loud, flashy, battery-operated toy shoved in his face to essentially pacify him. The yes space helps nurture an independent child as opposed to one dependent on a parent entertaining or constantly telling them what to do (or not to do.) Speaking from experience, it sure is nice being able to have a little "mommy time" when the kids are awake because they can play independently and be safe.
Now, I want to be clear that it is not like I never say "no!" but I try to reserve this for immediate danger-type situations and also follow-up with awareness reasoning and what the child can do instead. Example: "No! Don't throw the ball in the kitchen! That may break something. You can throw the ball in your room or wait until we go outside." Instead of just "No! Don't do that" and leaving the child guessing through trial and error what is okay or not okay to do.
As my son grew older and I felt I needed another philosophy to help me with his development, I learned about Maria Montessori and her work. Montessori in a nutshell is to create an environment for the child to thrive and then follow the child's interests. There are many Montessori schools out there, but the philosophy can also begin in the home at birth. I was happy to see the yes space was still prevalent, although, instead of just a space, like a room, it was the entire house. Children are provided with areas in the kitchen, bathroom and living room with equipment just their size so they really could help in their care and the every day household duties. Their bedrooms are set up in a way that they can get in and out of their own beds (usually floor beds) and their clothes are in cabinets within easy reach so they can dress themselves starting very young. This type of environment enables the child to grow into an independent, productive member of the family from the start. Montessori identified "sensitive periods" when children are interested and physically able to do things and helping around the house starts at about age 15 months. Have you noticed how your toddler wants to help with everything? Well, given the right environment, they can! I haven't implemented this fully into our house (yet?), but see how wonderfully it works for other parents in the various Montessori Facebook groups I belong to. I also continue to learn and be interested in how Montessori principles differ from traditional schooling as my son gets closer to being a school-aged kiddo.
From what I understand so far, Montessori schools differ from public, government-mandated curriculum schools in that you introduce subjects to a child, but then follow their lead as to what they are currently interested in and focus on that. For example, a child may spend days on reading and then days on math instead of an hour of each every day. This helps a child thrive at an individual level as we all learn a bit differently. By following the child's lead in other aspects of their life and introducing them to many different activities, you can help them flourish in what they are interested in instead of forcing them to play a sport when they'd rather be playing violin, for example. Let them lead their own lives instead of following what you think is "best." Something else great about these schools is the lack of worksheets and tests where any wrong answers are highlighted by a big red "X" or No! which is where everyone focuses instead of on the 99/100 correct.
Now, RIE and Montessori have been around for a long time and many famous people have been through Montessori upbringings and education, such as the founders of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin), Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Julia Child, Sean "Diddy" Combs.... Even Prince William is in a Montessori preschool. I believe they are so successful due to the freedom to be themselves through self-directed learning and the ability to be creative in their play and work instead of filling out worksheets and coloring inside the lines that someone else drew. They are following their passions instead of learning how to follow instructions from an out-dated industrial age, assembly line model of education that still exists in our public schools.
Tying this into my learnings from Christie Marie Sheldon, (you may remember her from my other post on Preventing Negative Childhood Beliefs) she has a method to help one get better at trusting their intuition again (kids are very intuitive from the start and we tend to squash that out of them) and it begins by putting your mind into a "yes" vibe. She has you repeat the word yes over and over, like 25 times and see how you feel and then try again with the word no and see how you feel and then, the word maybe. By really listening to the body's response to these words, one can ask questions and feel an intuitive response of yes, no or maybe. She then goes to explain that we humans are meant to stay in a yes state of mind which for me, just brings it all together with the yes space from birth. When we are in that yes state, we are free to be ourselves, to follow our intuition and to enjoy what life's greatest plan is for us. Let's all try to reteach ourselves and our children how to stay in this yes state of mind.
So, if you think these are cool concepts and want to learn more, check out a few of these links. I'm not an affiliate for any of these, just really loved the learning for the sake of mine and my kids' emotional well-being.
Love or About toolkit from Christie Marie Sheldon. I was gifted this from one of my fabulous sisters and listen to it time and again to help me stay in a Loving state of mind.
My Favorite Montessori book (so far): How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way by Tim Seldin
With love, hugs and smiles,