Montessori Discipline At Home

Parenting and discipline go together hand in hand. As parents, we must guide our children towards respectful behaviors and interactions with others. But boy is it tough! Creating a balance so that our children feel close to us, but also follow rules and respect boundaries is tricky. The Montessori philosophy offers a wonderful way to approach discipline in a loving way that meets both the children’s and parent’s needs.

This post is going to offer a basic explanation of Montessori discipline and examples of how you might use it. But, before we get to that, I want to take a moment to affirm ourselves as parents. Just about every parent that I know whether they are familiar with Montessori or not (myself included), struggles at times. Perhaps we have a philosophy and ideas for how we’d like to interact with our children and deal with discipline, but, man does life ever get in the way! Emotions, stress, overstimulation, extended family and more can make it seem impossible to stay on track. That doesn’t mean you’re failing! It doesn’t mean you can’t always try to improve either. What I’m getting at is that you should have confidence in yourself as a parent. Since the day you welcomed your child into your family, you became an expert in your child and your own parenting style.

That being said, let’s take a look at how you might make use of a Montessori discipline approach in the home:

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Prevention

The child who concentrates is immensely happy. – Dr. Maria Montessori

The first step of Montessori discipline is avoiding the issues in the first place. Montessori noticed that children were happy when they were concentrating and had an opportunity to contribute to the classroom (or in this case, your home). That means that children need important work to do in the home that they’re interested in and excited about. Whether it’s practical life projects, an art center to enjoy, the ability to engage in a dance party or work in the garden, being busy is the antidote to poor behavior. Permitting independence is another essential part of the method.

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5 Unconventional Parenting Hacks That Keep Me Sane

unconventional parenting hacks

There are so many parenting hacks out there, but not all of them are mainstream. Each parent finds their own unique ways (or parenting hacks) of dealing with the joys and challenges of parenting. Some of mine are on the wacky side – I’d definitely say some of them are unconventional…but they also keep me sane (well, most of the time, anyway). These are the parenting hacks I notice others occasionally give me a raised eyebrow about…but hey, to each their own and I’m glad to say that I’ve found what works for me. Here they are:

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How to Stop Hitting, Biting, Kicking and Throwing: Practical Techniques for Teaching Little Ones How to Handle BIG Feelings

how to stop hitting biting-kicking-and-throwing

First of all, relax. If you want to know how to stop hitting, biting, kicking, etc. you’re on the right track.

Second of all, it’s highly likely your precious little one WILL stop hitting, biting, kicking and throwing soon. As a very wise school counselor once pointed out to me, “How many adults do you know that hit and bite?” So, yes, there will be an end to this.

Third, know you’re not alone. All experts seem to agree that hitting and biting are common in young children. Although it can be tiring and frustrating to deal with, it is relatively normal.

But…there’s always a but…

What will also happen is that your child will learn other coping mechanisms for dealing with big feelings. One big factor that will help your child leave these behaviors behind is improvement in their ability to communicate. Language is often a point of frustration for little ones who can’t say what they feel or what they want. As language skills improve, so does behavior.

It’s also likely that your child will adopt a coping mechanism learned from you or other influential adults in their life. Some common coping mechanisms for big feelings such as anger, fear and frustration include:

  • Bottling it up (which can often result in a tummy-ache, stress, headaches, etc.)
  • Aggressive behaviors such as yelling
  • Positive outlets for feelings such as taking deep breathes, exercising, etc.

I think most people would opt for teaching their child positive outlets for anger, fear and frustration, but maybe you’re not sure how to do this. Luckily, teaching these techniques goes hand in hand with eliminating hitting, biting, kicking and throwing things.

Now, let’s discuss those techniques for teaching your little one how to stop hitting and handle strong feelings:

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How to Follow Your Child, Even When It’s Tough: Montessori Parenting Techniques

How to Follow Your Child, Even When It's Tough- Montessori Parenting Techniques

Children always show adults what they need. Their natural curiosity and interests lead them to engage in activities that help them learn and grow. Even in misbehavior and acting out, children communicate what they need. It is our job as parents to observe, analyze and follow our children to meet their needs and help them grow.

Montessori on Following the Child

Many parents would love to better understand their children. Following the child is a great way to do this. However, this pillar of Montessori education is often misinterpreted. People think the child is in charge and allowed to do whatever they want. It’s a bit more complex. Let’s take a look.

Montessori said:

Respect all the reasonable forms of activity in which the child engages and try to understand them.

Take baby girl for example. She’s 14 months old and likes to go to the bathroom with me. I allow her to, for a number of reasons, and she always tries to put her hands in the toilet. Rather than scolding her, I try to understand her. This is a way to follow her. I search for meaning in her actions. She’s clearly interested in learning about water and the sensory experience it gives her. So, without allowing her to play in the toilet, I offer her an opportunity to play with water outside the bathroom. I set a limit and offer an alternative to fulfill her needs.

Simple enough…but what about those more difficult behaviors?

Follow your child, even when it gets tough Montessori Parenting Techniques

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Guaranteed No Tears At Mealtime

“Ok hunny, I’ll pop some chicken nuggets in the toaster for you,” said none of our great-grandparents ever.

Don’t you think some of the troubles little ones have with eating and mealtime are really due to society’s recent trend towards using processed foods? The convenience of popping some chicken nuggets in the microwave or grabbing some crackers for the toddler is a relatively new reality. And no parent wants to see their child go hungry, so it’s no wonder our children demand an alternative to lentil stew. We give in because we can. There are easy alternatives calling from the kitchen “hellooooo…anyone want some crackers?”

But, by giving in and allowing these alternatives, we’re creating picky eaters that are on a path towards leading an unhealthy lifestyle.

So, how, you ask, do you avoid the tears at mealtime? How do you navigate the refusal to try a bite of green beans?

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The 3 Golden Rules for Saying “No” to Your Child

saying "no"

So many parents struggle with setting limits. The simple act of saying “no” can seem exhausting because you must usually repeat it about 50 gazillion times. And then there’s the not listening. Here are my three golden rules for how to say “no” and mean it:

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1. Don’t Say “No”

Counter-intuitive right? I’m not kidding though. The funny thing is that the youngest of children seem to hear “yes” when you say “no”. And it isn’t because their hearing is off.

For this reason, Dr. Maria Montessori believed that positive language should be used when talking to children. If you’re wondering what that means, basically it means saying “Walk, please” instead of “Don’t run!”  So, you’re still saying “no”, but they’re not hearing the “run” part which is exactly what they’ll want to keep doing.

2. Set a Limit You’ll Keep

Lately with my little peanut, our limit is counting to 10. He’s got 10 seconds to take care of the problem on his own, or I’ll help him do it. Examples?

  • “Play gently with your sister…or I’ll help you play somewhere else.” Whack! There goes the stuffed animal again right in her face. “Ten seconds, pumpkin or we’ll move somewhere else.”
  • “Put the riding toy away now, it’s too loud.” He continues to ride. “You have 10 seconds to put it away by yourself or I will help you…1…2…3…”

Obviously counting to 10 doesn’t work for everything. So, I often use another strategy that equally sets a limit. For this one, it’s often due to a case of whiny “if I continue to badger mama she’ll eventually give in and it’s because I really want some candy or ice cream and I’m probably a little bit tired so I can’t think of anything else to do and I wanna whiiiiiiine.” Sound familiar?  For THOSE situations I break out this fantastic answer:

“I’m all done answering that question. You heard me.”

Then, I zip it and don’t respond to the issue anymore. If peanut has a fit after that, it’s up to him.

Following a fit or tantrum, I try to connect with him in a positive way. For example, find something to laugh about together, offer to read a book or do some art.

Now, the secret to this second limit-setting rule is that you HAVE to keep your promise. So, a consequence of throwing your kid out the window, not an option. But, if you threaten to remove TV privileges, you’d better follow through.

However, the best options are directly related to the behavior. With young children, you can often gently help them comply. With older children, sometimes a fair warning about potential natural consequences, and then letting these happen, is the best medicine. For example, not helping with laundry could result in running out of clothes to wear. Or, having a messy room could result in losing  things.




3. Say Why

Kids want to know why. Although they might not agree with you in the moment, knowing why you’re saying “no” can help them learn. Perhaps you’re saying “no” because what your child is doing isn’t safe. Or, perhaps it isn’t healthy. Explaining why the answer is “no” can sometimes help.

These are my golden rules for saying “no”, or getting that message across anyway, to my kids. What are yours?

Need more ideas on how to hold your ground? Read my post about how to avoid undermining yourself as a parent.

Photo Credit: photo “I’m seeing you!” via photopin  license