Pause for a moment and think about a favorite destination. Is it a quiet place in a garden, your favorite table at neighborhood coffee shop, or an aromatic, bubble-filled bathtub? Consider how you feel when you’re in your special place. Now, look around your home. How do you feel about the space where you spend the majority of family time? Our physical environments influence how we feel, think, and interact with our children.
Very young children have those special places too: cuddling with Mom in the rocking chair, being pushed by Dad on the swing, a fort built from couch cushions. For young children, these special places highlight their experiences with their senses—sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste—and their relationships with you.
To see your home environment from a child’s perspective, move around the kitchen, living room and bedroom on your knees. See what your child sees. Notice the wall, ceiling, shelving, and floor. Try this activity at different times of day and observe how activities, sunlight, other adults, and furniture change your child’s experiences. Does the space feel safe, interesting, engaging, and challenging?
The home environment also helps your child learn what she can and cannot do. Look for ways to increase your child’s success. Create a “Yes you can!” home environment by:
- Mounting coat hooks at your child’s eye level.
- Creating areas for safe jumping, rolling, climbing, and crawling.
- Using bins to make toy cleanup easy.
- Having multiples of toys, so there’s less competition for one item.
- Decreasing the number of fragile objects or adult materials that are visable but off-limits.
- Remembering that adults when playing and caring for children need to be comfortable too.
When caring for young children, it is easy for counters, the refrigerator, shelving, and the floor to become cluttered. Disorganized space can create unnecessary anxiety, stress and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Look for ways to unclutter the room where you spend the most time. No need to do everything at once. Tackle a shelf or count to build your (and your child’s) sense of success and control.