Thursday, February 24, 2011


What becomes more and more fascinating in my life as a mother now is how this little person is interacting with us. The first time he smiles at you. The first time he reaches out his arms asking to be picked up. And the first time he throws a ball at you.

The obvious thing for us to do in response to that is to take the ball and throw it back. Gently. Laughing. So that's what I did but right in that moment Leander was actually getting ready to go after the ball himself. So next time he threw the ball at me I waited. He crawled towards me and picked up the ball. Threw it away and went after... over and over again.

When we went to pick up his dad from work one day Leander found the office football and started his game all over. Excited and happy. A colleague of my husband sat down and took the ball throwing it at Leander. He again just watched the ball roll pass him. He didn't move. He didn't go after the ball. This was not his game anymore. Exact same thing happened with another colleague. And I just watched this situation and smiled. THiS was what Emmi Pikler described in her book about the first games children play. They invent them. They invite you to play along. Or not. They say when and how.

Ever since Leander was able to crawl he had much fun in us chasing him (on our knees). While I sat in his room he would crawl out and behind the door he would make a noise like calling me. When I looked at him he quickly run off laughing out loud, almost falling over because of the laughter. I went after him. When I stopped following he stopped crawling too, sat up, looked back and when he saw me in starting position he would quickly crawl away again. But the most interesting part was that when I had reached him he was no longer interested. He made me go after him until he found some toy in the living room and that was it. He would sit up and play with the toy. Thanks for the fun mom but your time is up. I tell you when it's your turn again. And the most natural thing for me to do is to let him play. I happily play along if he invites me. But I also accept when my time is up.

The relaxing part of it - I don't have to come up with games and inventions that will entertain him. And that might bore him or overstimulate him. Quite often I read in forums from other mothers "what do you do with your kids at a certain age?" Well what I do with my son is I feed him, I change him, a bath him. I go out for a walk with him. These are the steady parts I have control over. The rest of the day is mainly up to him. He DOES. He plays. And I watch.


  1. I love this! How did I miss it when you first posted? This is a perfect example of playing with a baby the Pikler/Gerber way. It takes great restraint to allow a baby to be the initiator, and as Magda Gerber said, "writer, director and lead actor" of his play, but it ends up being much more fun for everyone. We when direct even the slightest bit, the game becomes all about "us".

  2. hi janet,
    looks like I'm not advertising my posts enough...
    it's true though, it takes restraint to hold still and watch. but it's just worth it.
    We've just been to visit the grandparents for a week where he was told how to play with a toy car, how to play ball etc... and sometimes I just saw this "what is that all about" - look in his face. so we're both happy to be back and play HIS way again.

  3. Hi Nadine, I just discovered your wonderful blog--thanks to Janet--and have enjoyed reading through back to the beginning. I love the way you describe your son's development and the challenges you have overcome as a parent. I have taken the first part of the RIE training and hope to continue the RIE program soon. It's very nice to hear from a parent who is putting things together!
    Thank you also for helping to put RIE & Pikler on the map! I look forward following your blog from now on.

  4. Hi Christina,
    glad you're enjoying my blog. It's great fun reflecting things this way while also sharing it with others.
    I have to admit I'm a little jealous that you're able to do the RIE training. I've started looking into it here but it's not that easy to get into... Hope you enjoy it and all the best as an RIE teacher !

  5. Unfortunately, the RIE training isn't as easy to get into depending on where you are! Even I had some trouble. Maybe someday that will change. The two-week intensives would be your only chance being so far away. Are there Pikler trainings in your area? There are some in the U.S. I would like to attend but they are all in Oklahoma, which is very far from me.
    Although of course, you are probably very, very busy with Leander already! He is the best teacher, it sounds like!

  6. well there is a Pikler training in Vienna actually which is also linked to Budapest to the Loczy orphanage. But it starts only once a year and they have very strict enrolment criteria. I do hope to get into it next year though. Guess I need to have a word with our parent infant class teacher since she is the head of the Pikler society who is running the training... but from experience I know if you really want something you GET it !

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  8. Hi Nadin, I read you blog and I found it most interesting. I have twins of 10 months old and I started utilizing the Pikler method with them. I am so enthusiastic about it that I also started my own blog to narrate my Pikler expirience. You are most wellcomed to visit my blog (in spanish language) and share our own experiences. Congratulations from Buenos Aires!! Regards, Lucrecia