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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Why Your Response to “I’m Bored” Doesn’t Have to Be a List of Fun Activities

“I’m bored” “I don’t know what to do.” “What can I do, Mama?” The sounds of summer for some, the sounds of just about every day all year round for others. Kids get bored.

Does it stress you out?

This may not be a popular opinion, but you don’t have to create a boredom plan for every moment of your child’s life. Or maybe this opinion would be more popular if it were more acceptable to follow this advice. Relax, don’t let a bored child get to you. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, it may be the beginning of something good!

Do you ever feel like you need to entertain your children every moment of the day, all day? Perhaps it’s due to an overdose on Pinterest scrolling or the fact that a lot of people you know have enrolled their children in more activities than you can count on one hand. Whatever it is, there is definitely pressure to keep your kids busy with the right activities to help them in their development. Maybe you’re scared that if you DON’T keep your kids busy, you’re not providing them with what they need to succeed.

Rest assured that this is certainly not the case. You can actually help your child by allowing a bit of boredom in their life. Why? There’s a long list of benefits to letting your child figure out how to use their time on their own. What are some of them?

Why Your Response to -I'm Bored- Doesn't Have to Be a List of Fun Activities

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Benefits of Boredom

If your child is allowed to be bored at times, it’s likely they’ll develop the following skills:

  • Independence – Your child will independently find a solution, meaning that they feel more in charge of themselves. Rather than being dependent (the opposite of independent) on an adult to direct them, children find something to do.
  • Creativity – When your child is bored, they are more likely to work hard to come up with something interesting to entertain themself. If you’re riding in the car or in a waiting room, your child might begin imagining a story in their head, searching for certain kinds of cars out the window or similar. However, if your child watches a video or plays a game on your phone instead, this opportunity is lost.
  • Problem-solving skills – The problem? Boredom. The solution? It could be anything really. That’s the beauty of being bored. Your child has the chance to work through this real-life problem and explore their possible responses and reactions. Sometimes your child might whine or get angry. Sometimes they might wander around the house or wherever you are to seek ideas for what to do. You can help your child cultivate healthy coping mechanisms for boredom. More on these later.
  • Boosts self-motivation  Ever used an exciting opening to get your child to try a new activity? You might use an enthusiastic tone of voice, or explain what the benefits of the activity will be. When your child is bored and allowed to struggle through it until they pick an activity on their own, they have to be their own motivator. With no outside voice telling them how much fun it will be to build a Lego replica of the empire state building, they’ll have to discover the motivation to undertake such an activity on their own.

If you’re curious to learn what psychologists are saying about the importance of children experiencing boredom, check out this article.

What did Montessori say?

Montessori believed that children needed to build skills to become independent. That’s one of the reasons why she emphasized practical life so strongly, especially for the youngest students. In addition, in any Montessori classroom, children are in charge of picking meaningful activities to engage in. Although guidance is provided from teachers, children are largely responsible for picking their own work.

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Hug Your Way to an Independent Child

“Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama!” is about the way a few hours of every day goes for me with my 17 month old. She insistently calls for me and wants to be held, hugged and paid attention to. So, we read books, sing together, cuddle, and sometimes often times I find myself completing tasks with one hand while she’s happily perched on my hip.

But, like many moms, I put up with it and try to enjoy it as much as I can. She’ll only be this little so long. I know that it’s only a matter of time before she becomes more independent.

My nearly four-year-old on the other hand is quite independent. He likes the occasional snuggle and asks to be played with from time to time. But, most of the time he can be found happily digging with his  trucks in the dirt, coloring pictures beside me while I work or making up an intricate story line with a few model dinosaurs. He also likes to help wash dishes and hang up laundry or page through a book.

As a baby and toddler, my son was similar to my daughter. He was attached to me or his father at most times. While he enjoyed wandering off on his own to play for a while, he was more often than not like velcro.

That’s my real life experience that shows me that being close and connected leads to independence. But, there’s more to it than one mom’s journey.

Hug Your Way to an Independent Child (1)

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Freedom: What Did Montessori Have in Mind?

Freedom- What Did Montessori Have in Mind-

Freedom. The ability to move around. Freedom to choose. Picking what activities to complete and in what order. This strikes fear into the hearts of many parents. Perhaps you think that the absence of control must certainly result in mayhem and chaos. Perhaps you wonder how this freedom thing could possibly work?

Whether at home or at school, freedom is an integral part of using the Montessori philosophy. However, this freedom shouldn’t cause you anxiety. It serves a purpose.

Freedom- What Did Montessori Have in Mind-

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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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I’m an Author! Montessori At Home Guide: Self-Care For 2-6 Year Olds

Montessori self-care

The book’s been out for awhile, but I’ve finally gotten around to sharing it here! Sterling Productions approached me to write this ebook on self-care for 2-6-year olds and I was thrilled to accept the opportunity.

This is a short, basic guide to help parents show their children the way in learning self-care. Through self-care, independence is encouraged and children learn to take care of many basic tasks on their own. The lessons cover everything from hygiene and dressing to eating, safety and manners. The book is structured in a user-friendly way so that you can pinpoint exactly what you’re looking to teach and find some creative, helpful, Montessori inspired ideas for working with your little one.

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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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Why and How To Promote Independence in Your Child

why-how-to-promote-independence-in-your-child

Most people talk about all of the wonderful benefits of independence in young children, focusing on their increased self-esteem, fine motor control and sense of responsibility. But there are two sides to this one. The more your kids can do on their own, the better it is for you.

Every mother (and father) has been caught in a situation where two children need her attention at once. And sometimes, one’s screaming for a cup of water while the other one has a more serious emergency, resulting in your hands being wrist-deep in doo-doo. Not very sanitary for getting that cup of water for a while anyway. Unless…your older child can get the water. All by herself.

We ended up with some easy solutions around our house that have saved me from a meltdown more than once. Some of these solutions were intentional, and others have been purely accidental.

why-and-how-to-promote-independence-in-your-child

Self-Serve

Kids can handle some self-serve drinks and snacks. For instance, water.  I have a big basket where I put re-usable plastics like little yogurt cups, cream cheese tubs, old water bottles, you know. It just so happens to be sitting right next to our water filter, which is basically a 5 gallon bucket with a plastic spigot. My son, due to the convenience, has really taken to grabbing a yogurt cup and getting water on his own. He used to be too small to reach, but just at the age where he no longer thinks its funny to throw water everywhere – oh who am I kidding, he still enjoys that sometimes – he had become just tall enough to be able to get water on his own. This was also conveniently at about the same time my daughter was born. One less thing for us to do for our son. Score!

Wash on Your Own

Our sink is another example. We use an easy step stool for our son to be able to access the sink and get water to wash up when he needs to. It’s so nice to know that he can take care of all of his bathroom and hand-washing needs on his own without our help.




Arts and Crafts

When little peanut wants to color, cut or draw, he doesn’t need to ask for help. All of his art supplies are at his level, ready to be used. He knows where he can color and how to use the scissors on his own. When he’s finished, well, that brings me to the next point…

Clean Up

I’m a firm believer in kids cleaning up after themselves without making a fuss. Accidents happen. Paints and juice spill, crumbs get dropped on the floor…no biggy. So when little peanut cuts up paper into tiny pieces all over the floor, he knows where to find a small broom and dustpan so that he can sweep up on his own. We keep a few rags and towels hanging on our oven door so that he can grab them to clean up spills. This is independence at its best. He knows how to handle mistakes and be responsible.

So yes, through practicing independence, he’s developing great skills – and setting a stellar example for his little sister, but he’s also helping us out. We’re always there to step in if there’s something he can’t handle, but it sure takes a load off our backs knowing he can handle so many things on his own. This is by no means an exhaustive list – there are many more things that little peanut can do all by himself. And I’m so glad he can, for his sake, and mine!

Why do you appreciate your child’s independence?

***Got a little TOO much independence going on? Learn how to hold your ground as a parent!

photo credit: NickNguyen Wash those hands! via Photopin License