Thursday, February 23, 2012

Challenges in Raising a Spirited Child

One of my biggest challenges as a "laissez faire" parent is knowing when to set limits and when to let Victoria explore the world on her own terms.
Laissez faire, is a French expression that basically means "to leave be", to let things go the way they will without trying to change or affect them. This is very much the way I parent. I am always close to my child and I always help her when she needs, but she is allowed and able to explore the world at her leisure. I don't child proof my house,  I instead teach Victoria what is acceptable for her to touch and what isn't, and sometimes she teaches me what is acceptable for her to touch, and what isn't.
For instance, I had been very adamant about her not touching my knitting needle, until I gave her the opportunity one day to hold one (with me watching her like a hawk) and realized that she quickly grasped the concept of the pointy end, and was careful about not hurting herself with it. This obviously doesn't mean that I would leave her unattended with a knitting needle, however, with supervision there is really no risk to her playing with the needle. She mostly just likes the feel of the wood (I'm spoiled and have wooden knitting needles) and the ability to use it like a drum stick on the furniture around her.

However, Victoria is also a very precocious child, and a very physically capable child, which means that I sometimes wonder where exactly to set the limits. These past few days she's learned how to get up on the kitchen counter from the back of the couch, and now the sky is the limit, it seems, with her crawling.
Yesterday, I turned around from putting a few dishes in the sink to this:

Yes, that is indeed my daughter, crawling on the counter with an (empty) packet of hot sauce in her mouth... I couldn't help but laugh... (and take a picture).
But the question is there, how do I set healthy limits, while still letting my child explore the world of her own volition?
And I've found that I dislike the idea of setting those limits unless they are a matter of life and death, which in this case they aren't... she is already learning that she can only get down from the counter on the couch side, and I am always in the room with her, watching her and providing assistance should she need it. So yes, I have to be a bit more careful because I don't baby proof the space we live in, but Victoria is developing at a fast clip because of it. And the pride in her eyes and her happy bounce when she accomplishes what she sets out to do are enough to make me appreciate just how great a learning experience this is for her. 

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