Before becoming a parent I think most people have ideas about how they want to do it. They might have a preference over breast or bottle, whether they want to co-sleep or not, and even as far as how they might want to enforce discipline. But throughout our entire journey thus far as parents, one thing has remained a strong constant. We’ve been as child led as possible. So this post is going to be a bit about my philosophy as a parent, and essentially my take on what child led parenting actually is.
Child Led Parenting: Our Main Philosophy for How We Parent
I dare say the first thing that might come to mind when someone reads the term “Child led Parenting” is a scenario in which the child literally does whatever the hell they want with no rules or limits. But that’s not the case. To sum up child led parenting in a single sentence, I would just say this:
Child Led Parenting in a Nutshell
Much like what we did with attachment parenting, we kind of stumbled into the child led style of parenting. My wife breastfed on demand – is there really any other way of doing it? – so she allowed Isabelle to feed as and when she wanted to. We went with baby led weaning when the time came. And we still co-sleep with Isabelle – who’s now 20 months old – because she still loves it and it works for us.
It’s about having less structure to what you want to do. When I get up in the morning for a full day of being with Isabelle, I often have no idea what we’re going to do. I simply see what she fancies and I go with that. If she goes to the art box we’ll colour some shit in. If she wanders into the kitchen, opens the drawer and gets a bowl out, I guess she might want something to eat. And as she gets older it’s only going to get more child led as she can actually tell me what she wants to do.
It’s much like how I want to home educate Isabelle. I really like the idea of unschooling. You essentially learn whatever the child wants to learn about. Rather than force the seven times table on them, you simply see what they want to do and go with the flow. Obviously there might be the odd hint or show of encouragement in a certain direction. But the idea is to fuel their personal growth and independence as much as possible. I LOVE that way of thinking.
What Child Led Parenting Isn’t
Child led parenting isn’t about being dictated to by a toddler. That would be impossible as sometimes they’re knobheads. You can’t have your entire life ruled by what they want to do.
It’s about allowing them to control as many aspects of their life as feasibly possible, and encouraging as much independence as they can manage.Ross – The same knobhead again
It’s about treating them as if they were adults and trying to respect what they want to do.
Obviously there are limits to how child led you can really be. If our daughter doesn’t want her nappy changed after shitting herself, then tough luck. I’m changing that nappy. If she doesn’t want to brush her teeth then bollocks to her, I’m getting that brush in.
We still have rules that we enforce. We don’t let her beat the crap out of the dogs, or eat whatever she wants when she wants. But where we think it’s fair and reasonable we let her do what she wants. Everything from not wanting to be picked up or letting her decide if she wants to give you a kiss. To deciding what activity she wants to do, or when she wants to go to sleep at night. There’s no set bedtime here. We simply try and fuel her own decision making and go with the flow.
Why We’ve Gone down the Child Led Parenting Style
We’ve gone with this style of parenting because it simply works for us. We haven’t really thought too hard on the choices we’ve made, they’ve just come to us rather naturally. As I think most parenting choices do.
When we went with baby led weaning part of the reason why I liked it was because I couldn’t be arsed to mash some food up and spoon feed a baby. Screw that. Why do that when you can bang the food on the high chair and let them eat half and give the rest to the dogs? It works for me. And it’s the same with something like co-sleeping. Does she want to sleep in a dark room on her own? Have a set bedtime where we take her on up regardless of whether she’s tried? If she doesn’t sleep then try and use the cry-it-out method? Bollocks to all of that.
Isabelle essentially twats about downstairs until either she wants to go to sleep – usually on my wife’s boob – or we want to go up to bed around 9pm. She then climbs into bed with us, dogs and all, and we all go to sleep. We all sleep very well and I even have the energy to get up at 4:30am to mess about doing blog related stuff.
In a nutshell, doing things as child led as possible makes our life easier and I honestly feel it creates a good atmosphere around Isabelle and encourages her to become rather independent.
Obviously I dare say other parenting techniques work too. Ultimately everyone does what they feel works in the best interest of themselves and the child. I don’t even know if “Child Led Parenting” is an actual thing or if I just sound like a right twat by labelling normal parenting with something that sounds fancy as shit. Yep. I think I’ve just done that. Surely this is just parenting and I’m a utter knob for thinking it’s this weird special thing we’re doing. What a dick!