How To Create A “Yes Space” For Your Kids

If you’re tired of saying “no” all day to your kids? This small change could make all the difference!

kids playing in a yes space
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Do you ever have days where you feel like you’re constantly saying “no” to your child? 

It doesn’t feel good. Sometimes it can feel more like we’re referees or police officers constantly enforcing the rules than parents.

This is especially true for toddlers who are wired to test the boundaries of both safety and acceptable behavior. It’s their way of figuring out the world, which is at once completely understandable and totally exhausting.

Enter, the “yes space.” It’s a concept developed by author and RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) expert Janet Lansbury and refers to an area of your home that you set up to be completely childproof and child friendly.

The goal is to intervene as little as possible when your child is in this space. It needs to be designed with their safety and developmental needs in mind so that you feel totally comfortable letting them play there unattended.


The benefits of a “yes” space

Establishing a yes space provides you and your child with a sense of freedom and independence. Watch as they as they play uninterrupted and get lost in their own imaginary worlds without constantly needing to test boundaries or worry that they’ll be reprimanded.

The added bonus of a yes space is that you will have time to yourself while knowing that they are safe, engaged and entertained.


How to create a yes space inside

The layout of a yes space will be different depending on your home and family structure. A natural spot for such a space would be a playroom or child’s bedroom. 

If you have a smaller home, you can still make it work.

Look around the house for an area that your child can call their own. This could simply be the corner of the living room. It doesn’t need to be fancy. The most important thing is that it needs to be child-driven in design.

Once you’ve chosen a space, assess its current state. Can your child access anything that’s unsafe if they’re on their own? Are there any items you’d normally have to redirect your child away from – a bookcase they can climb, electrical cords, a toy they like to throw at the wall instead of using properly? If so, take these items away if possible or in the case of a bookshelf, make sure it’s fastened to the wall. We love the Nico & Yeye Minimo bookcase, which features a wide seat that is deep enough for even the biggest books and toys.

Next, think about your child’s interests and developmental needs. You’ll likely want to include some open-ended toys like blocks, some sort of creative outlet like musical instruments or craft supplies (if they’re old enough) and something to inspire physical movement.

If your child has a lot of energy and no outlet for it, they will find a way to release it, which will probably involve running around the house and jumping off furniture. You might include a climber, indoor slide, balance beam or a balance board. Make sure you have some sort of gross motor outlet to set your child up for success. A play table and chair or stool is also handy if you have the space available, but prioritize what you need depending on your child’s interests. 


How to create a yes space outside

A yes space can also be created outside. 

To establish a safe yes space outside, you need a fenced in yard or enclosed patio. If you don’t want your entire yard or patio to be taken over by your child, you can certainly gate off a certain area. This allows you to still have a garden or little oasis of your own.

Start by putting tools away in a safe location that can’t be accessed by your child. You’ll also need to do a quick sweep of the yard each day to ensure that nothing unsafe is within reach.

Establish a couple of basic safety and behavior guidelines, the fewer the better. ‘Be kind’ and ‘be safe’ should be enough, although you may need remind your child not to harm any plants, bugs, etc.

Similar to the indoor yes space, you’ll want to include opportunities for open-ended play, creativity and physical exertion. You might include a swing, a scooter,  and some large blocks.

You may also want to include a water source (when it’s not too cold) and some dirt or sand for your child to dig in, offering a satisfying sensory opportunity that isn’t generally possible indoors. A mud kitchen or sensory bin is perfect for outdoor play. 


Reassess and tweak to minimize conflict

Once you’ve set up your child’s space, try to reassess and tweak every so often. If you notice there’s an area where you’re still needing to redirect your child, try to change the environment to eliminate the conflict. 

For instance, if your child is always unplugging and plugging in a lamp, try to rearrange the room so that spot is blocked. 

If they’re climbing a bookshelf, try removing it and using a book basket for a while. Your child’s needs and impulses will change over time so the space will change too.

While it takes a bit of work at beginning, a yes space is a true gift for you and your child. It will be the one place you can simply be together without constant boundary testing and redirection.


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