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
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 a very young age form part of their brain and get deeply embedded, influencing their behavior for years to come.
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 a 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 to – belong to the family and circle of friends and have a community to be a part of. A 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 responses 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 here
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
Would you like to learn how to
- Respond positively to misbehaviour scenarios while maintaining a loving and respectful connection with their children
- Set up their home for independent play, learning and responsibility
- Confidently explain Montessori to family and friends
- Get more involved in their child’s learning by providing learning opportunities at home that are consistent with the approaches used at school
- Empower their children to manage their own relationships, including conflict with siblings
- Support their child’s self-discipline by parenting without rewards or punishments?
I invite you to check out The Power of the Prepared Parent – A Montessori Crash Course by Chris O’Leary
Here is what you will learn:
- The 7 specific steps to adopting Montessori principles at home to make home life consistent with school life. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with Montessori but with this formula, you will adopt one step at a time in sequence.
- A simple framework for parenting without rewards and punishments using natural and logical consequences.
- My simple 3-Step Fast Start process to get you started – the three quick and easy things you can do straight away to implement Montessori at home.
- How to determine where your child is at (with no tests and no grades) using this one simple tool.
- The Montessori Parenting Toolkit – including my best tips for how to parent Montessori-style. This includes the language to use, safe words, words to avoid, and discipline and conflict resolution techniques using a paint-by-numbers approach.
- How to present a ‘lesson’ at home using a 6-Step Technique that uses the same steps your child is familiar with at school.
- The 3 Questions that Clear The Mental Clutter and help you focus on what matters most as a Montessori parent.
- The raw, unfiltered truth about why the Montessori method is superior to all other methods of education and how it is supported by current brain research.
- How to develop your ‘fool-proof elevator pitch to describe Montessori – no more vague descriptions when explaining it to family and friends.
- The No.1 reason most people take their children out of Montessori (simply recognizing this is a game-changer).
- Why doing it ‘perfectly’ is a myth, and the mentality to use instead. When you hear this, a huge weight will be lifted off your shoulders.
- Detailed explanations of core Montessori materials (including the sequence of presentations at school) across the five core subject areas: Sensorial, Maths, Language, Culture and Practical Life as well as the Five Great Lessons.
- My 5-Step Fast Start Process to De-Clutter and Set Up Your Home Environment to provide for your child’s independence – as well as detailed room-by-room break-downs for how to set up every room in your home using Montessori principles.
- The biggest mistake Montessori parents make when they try to adopt Montessori at home (and how to avoid it).
- How to hold successful Family Meetings and the psychology behind getting universal agreement on Family Rules so your children have ownership and are engaged in the process.
- How to plan a Going Out activity with a step-by-step Action Guide.
- The Neurology of Montessori so you have a basic understanding of what is happening in your child’s brain and why the Montessori method works.
- My Fast Start Philosophy Formula – 30 key Montessori principles and how they are different from traditional education models.
- A fool-proof strategy for managing screen time and technology using the Montessori approach.
- Tools to cultivate the core characteristics of a Montessori adult: patience, humility, and grace.
- Detailed case studies and examples to demonstrate everyday communication in a Montessori home, including specific techniques, words to avoid, and how to manage discipline and sibling conflict so that you can stay connected to your children while they learn these important life skills for themselves. And that’s only a fraction of what we’re going to cover inside!
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Anastasia is the founder of Montessori Nature, a blog about Montessori - inspired and Nature-based explorations. She taught in a Montessori setting for 10 years and has been practicing the Montessori way of learning and living for the last 19 years. She loves designing engaging educational printables for children. Learn more here.