RIE in Real Life – RIE is for every age

This Friday finds me still in Central Virginia with family, and though it has been over a week since I’ve been with young children*, I’m finding my RIE training is still valuable with humans at the other end of life’s journey.

When parents come to class ‘later,’ with children who are almost two, they sometimes lament that they wish they’d know about RIE sooner. To this, I’ve always said it’s never too late to start utilizing RIE practices: it’s simply treating others in your life as humans wish to, and should, be treated, seen, heard and engaged with. And now I’ll add the corollary that there’s never a good time to stop utilizing RIE practices.

The magic of RIE is that we use it with babies and toddlers, who our society tells us aren’t ‘fully there.’ This week has shown me that some people feel the same about the sick and elderly.

With babies, we respect, reflect, respond…we look for competencies and growing capabilities. With those who are nearing the end of life, we respect, reflect, respond, and continue to look for competencies even as capabilities diminish.

Going back to the 7 basic principles of RIE

1) make sure your environment supports you and who you are caring for.

2) give them and yourself time to relax and recoup.

3) give them and yourself time to connect with others.

4) don’t jump to solve what you think the problem is…wait to see what the problem actually is.

5) always (always, always) involve anyone you’re caring for in their caregiving.

6) remember that we all thrive with at least a little consistency and predictability. and

7) trust the process and trust yourself.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying it ‘works’ all the time (and I never will…RIE isn’t about results, it is about relationships), but I’m saying it’s the right thing to do…to respect someone’s point of view, even if you can’t honor their request…to acknowledge feelings, even if you think they are about ridiculous things…to remember that what’s logical to you isn’t always logical to the other person. And most importantly, keep taking care of yourself.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend, with someone who can RIE you a little,

*I got the side-eye from the mother of a young baby at the local farmer’s cooperative yesterday…it was all I could do to not hand her my card to prove I wasn’t a random weirdo making a connection with her baby, but the way she was looking at me told me the card would have put me over the top in weirdo land. And when I gently suggested The Opposite of COMBAT to a nurse who complained that her boys fight a lot, she gave me a quelling look and let me know that she just ‘pops’ them when they fight and they’re figuring out that she means business. Sigh. I wish I’d had this Maria Montessori quotation top of mind…

Everyone talks about peace, but no one educates for peace…When we educate to cooperate and be in solidarity with one another, that day we will be educating for peace.