Parenting tips from La La Land

Like it? Share it!

I’m off to be filmed again today for a new pilot programme for Channel 4 and I’m really looking forward to meeting the family. Here is the new parenting craze from the USA that caught my eye yesterday from one of the tabloids
“in The Daily Mirror !   What do you  make of it ?

Meanwhile I’m off to ask the great questions to help the family I’m filming with find their own answers ! 🙂

Parenting tips from La La Land


It’s the hottest parenting craze to hit Hollywood since Supernanny Jo Frost introduced the naughty step.

And with A-list followers like Helen Hunt, Jamie Lee Curtis and Tobey Maguire backing the cause, it’s only a matter of time before RIE, or Resources for Infant Educarers, makes its way here.

But yummy mummies be warned – the LA trend is pretty harsh in parts. ­Lullabies are banned. Tickling is ­strictly off limits. And swings, ­mobiles, mirrors and ­educational toys are simply a no no.

So let’s hope we can tweak our own version, because some of the ideas behind the LA trend are as tough as a baby boot camp.

And apart from being mean, some points sound downright hilarious. Ask the child’s permission before picking them up. Ha! Let them decide when and how much to eat. Ha ha! Draw out nappy changes to last as long as possible. HA HA HA!

Yet others sound just what busy parents need to hear. Quit the ­pressure-cooker environment where tots are coaxed to walk, talk, ­socialise, or even learn French before they’re out of nappies.

Adopt a hands-off approach, sit back and let them dictate the pace. Do less, observe and enjoy more. Put plainly, get out of your babies’ faces. But does the theory work? Or is it, like many new ideas from La La Land, just nuts?

I vowed to test it the moment I found my triplet toddlers with their arms down the loo, shaking with giggles as they tried to press the flush. When I told them off, they laughed in my face.

Lily, Clara and Elise, who are six weeks shy of their second birthday, seem to be conspiring to ensure their Terrible Twos will be spectacularly naughty. Meal times used to be calm, orderly affairs. But now they are full-on food fights. This week I had sweet potato pelted at my ceiling.

So pass me the RIE rule book. Our day starts with nappy changes which are, according to my new mothering method, a lovely time for interaction. The pioneers, paediatric neurologist Tom Forrest and the late educator Magda Gerber, clearly had no sense of smell.

I have to prolong the process and talk my girls through each step. “Lily, I am going to change your nappy now.” “Boing!” says Lily, desperate to scramble off the changing station to bounce on her trampoline.

“Lily, please lie still while I give you a nice fresh nappy. Here’s my cotton wool in some lovely warm water and…” “MUMMY,” Lily says, exasperated. “Boing boing boing!”

Lily doesn’t have time to drag out a nappy change, and nor do I. We’d both prefer to get it over with as soon as possible so she can toddle off and have fun. I’ve worn out the knees in three pairs of jeans crawling around the playroom with my girls, singing nursery rhymes, playing horsey, doing jigsaws or dancing along to Ring O’ Roses.

But RIE philosophy says I’ve got it all wrong. Today, abiding by their rule not to interfere with play, I just sit back and watch my tiny trio. Clara climbs into a box and chuckles at first, but struggles to get out.

I can’t pick her up as, according to the RIE guidelines, I really shouldn’t ­intervene unless my child permits me to.

“Clara, can I lift you out of the box?” “No!” she pouts. But Clara says no to ­everything, even if I ask if she’d like a trip to ­Disneyland. If I wait for her to say yes, she may be there for a month.

Struggling to get out without my help, Clara gets frustrated, her chin wobbles, and she wails. This is a test. RIE dictates I must leave her for a short while to express her feelings and decipher the reason behind the cry.

“Now Clara, I see you are sad. Would you like to tell me what has upset you?” “WAAAAH!”

After a minute crying, Clara looks like she might combust and my ear drums can’t take much more. Flouting the rules, I lift her out of the box, soothe her with a cuddle and she’s happy once again.

Educational toys are sniffed at in RIE circles. The method-approved toys are basic, like wooden spoons, buckets and paisley scarves.

When I give Elise a spoon she’s thrilled. It’s what she’s been looking for – to whack her ­sisters in the face.

There’s no way I can sit back and observe this. But Elise won’t let me prise the spoon from her grasp. This is ­another test. RIE tells me to talk to my child like a CEO addressing a respected underling. “Elise, I regret to say I cannot promote you unless you give me the spoon.”

Her grip tightens. I’m not supposed to distract a ­misbehaving child, but can think of no other option. “Quick! Look at the birdie!” As soon as Elise turns her head, the spoon falls from her hand and is confiscated.

Lunchtime. RIE ­guidelines say I should dump my highchairs as being strapped in makes little ones feel isolated. I should feed them on low chairs so their feet touch the floor and they can ­wander away from the table when they’ve had enough to eat.

One RIE ­blogger ­insists ingenious no-spill sippy cups should be binned and replaced with, wait for it, ­glasses.

But I can’t risk a smashed glass so opt for ­plastic ­tumblers.

Disaster. The tumblers of water are upturned. Clara tips her bowl of cottage pie on to her head, which makes her sisters roar with laughter and follow suit.

This RIE feeding lark is ­going to take a lot more practise. I’ll have to redecorate my kitchen after every meal at this rate. I’m sure RIE is right for some people, but maybe we are an ­extreme case.

NHS child psychologist Ruth ­Cottard has reservations. “The one fits all childcare theory doesn’t exist. Parts of RIE sound positive, such as letting children explore their own world and amuse themselves.

“But other parts, such as not ­singing to children, sound grim. Will it catch on here? I doubt it.”
What do you think of the concept?
Read more:

Download your copy of Sue’s Ebook
How to give your kids the gift of self-esteem by clicking here

About the author

Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the  famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.

Join me on these networks



Sue Atkins the Parenting Expert
T: + 44 1342 833355   M: 07740 622769

Gatehouse Farm
The Farmhouse
New Chapel
Surrey RH7 6LF

Related Articles

The Sue Atkins

Parenting Show

Discussing every possible aspect of parenting, giving you advice and support on topics which affect your daily life. Each free, weekly episode is bursting with practical tips, techniques and ideas.

Hi, I'm Sue Atkins

I will teach you my no-nonsense, simple techniques & give you hundreds of my expert parenting articles, videos & podcasts so you can get back to the business of having fun with your family!

As Seen or heard in