The greatest development is achieved during the first years of life, and therefore it is then that the greatest care should be taken. If this is done, then the child does not become a burden; he will reveal himself as the greatest marvel of nature.
Maria Montessori’s teaching is becoming one of the most acquired among modern parents and early childhood educators. The reason behind this popularity is the fact that we are not satisfied with old style parenting and raising techniques anymore. We’ve realized that punishment and harsh discipline is not the answer to dealing with young children’s strong emotions and feelings. Children’s emotions are not something that can be disregarded and left unnoticed. Montessori stressed how important it is to give every child the utmost respect. She calls for us to view every child as “the greatest marvel of nature”. That means that we have to recognize and understand the child’s needs and fulfill them to the best of our ability based on their natural state of being. Science suggests that a child’s emotional experiences from the very young age form part of their brain and get deeply embedded, influencing their behavior for years to come.
One of the most powerful lessons I learned came from the Inuit culture and parenting beliefs.
Traditionally, the Inuit saw yelling at a small child as demeaning. It’s as if the adult is having a tantrum; it’s basically stooping to the level of the child, Briggs documented… The culture views scolding — or even speaking to children in an angry voice — as inappropriate… Traditional Inuit parenting is incredibly nurturing and tender. If you took all the parenting styles around the world and ranked them by their gentleness, the Inuit approach would likely rank near the top. (They even have a special kiss for babies, where you put your nose against the cheek and sniff the skin.) Source.
First of all, when dealing with strong emotions it is important to keep in mind that 90% of the outcome depends on our reaction to the child’s outbursts. Being their “calm within the storm” helps a little person regulate his or her feelings and calm down quicker. We need to respond and react from the place of compassion and empathy. Just like physical bruises, emotional bruises require our attention and care.
“When confronted by situations which concern the child and seem difficult to solve,do not seek outside remedies but concentrate upon the nature of the child and the essential needs of his development”
“The Human Tendencies and Montessori Education” Mario Montessori
According to Montessori, all children need these essentials in order to advance successfully in life, or as Mario Montessori called them, “human tendencies”:
Order – Children thrive when they have clear boundaries in place. Adults have to reinforce those boundaries in a matter-of-fact manner and stay consistent. Word “no” shouldn’t be something we tend to avoid. Even if it provokes a very strong emotional response. Comforting child is a natural way to deal with those eruptions of feelings. Also, children feel safe and confident when they follow the everyday routine and they know what to expect.
“If you hear yourself saying ‘no’ a lot then you can remind yourself that you’re doing a great job.” According to Manning, the self-esteem movement has hijacked our maternal instincts and our desire to be the best mothers possible. With the very best intentions mothers, and increasingly fathers, mistakenly feel that indulging their child’s every whim is a measure of their love for them.
“The pendulum has swung too far and we’ve gone from not being emotionally attuned with our children to thinking that protecting them from any discomfort or things that they don’t want to do is a way of showing love,” says Manning.
Rather than feeling bad about saying “no” to our kids, here’s five reasons why we should feel good about it”. Continue reading here.
Orientation – It is important for children to remember that they have a place they belong – belong to the family and circle of friends and have a community to be a part of. Place where they can feel accepted, valued and loved for who they are. Our task is to provide an environment where children are free to express their frustration, joy, content, anger, fear. The peaceful environment creates a peaceful atmosphere, state of mind and body for both – adults and children.
Communication – Communication is not always verbal. We can communicate peace, love, and acceptance through our gestures and body language. Always coming down to the child’s level and making eye-contact are all essential parts of establishing successful communication based on respect.
Exploration – Children need to be familiar with their emotions and what to call those feelings that arise in their chest. They should be allowed to explore what in their environment makes them feel sad, happy, curious, exhausted, helpless or empowered.
Activity (Movement or Work) – Play and Montessori work help children get familiar with social cues, learn what’s appropriate and what’s not, help them to become masters of their own body. It gives them the joy of concentration and self-fulfillment.
Self-preservation and Self-Development – In order for a child to function and develop properly, we have to make sure that his or her needs are met on all levels. For body it is nutritious food and exercise, for the mind – challenges and means to develop. The well-being of the soul and spirit is just as paramount.
Abstraction and Imagination – Children should be free to express their feelings and emotions through imaginative play, art experiences, drawing.
Concentration – Repetition – Self Perfection – It takes time and practice to achieve a prominent result. We can reinforce mature emotional response in various situations and be a positive role model in their lives. We have to prepare to demonstrate it over and over again and help children to adopt these behaviors in the future.
Exactness and Precision – Children trust that we will be consistent with our demands.
I’ve created this printable reminder – a part of what Mario Montessori called human tendencies – elements children need to develop, thrive and be successful. You can download the printable version from my Subscriber Only page. Join the Montessori Nature list and receive access to all freebies.
I’ve created A to Z Emotions and Feelings – ABC Cards. This is a great and fun tool for helping children to identify and name various emotions they may experience on a daily basis: A to Z Emotion Cards – ABC Cards
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