We have a couple of troublesome students so I have been learning about how to help parents implement Montessori at home. I think a uniform set of rules, norms and values can really help a child. There are some things we do in the classroom that can easily be transferred.
Using positive sentences creates a kinder environment. Instead of saying, “no running!” we can say, “walk please!”
As much as possible, it is good to inform the child in advance. Children really depend on routine and predictable, consistent outcomes. Surprises can be really difficult. You can give them warnings, like, “We have to go soon so we need to clean up in 5 minutes.” It’s also very important to make a child clean up after him/herself. It teaches them to take responsibility. Also, they can learn to gain a sense of achievement from finishing a task.
Teaching through modeling is a great tool for tasks and behavior. You can point out to your child the kind things that you are doing, “I’m giving you half of my cookie because sharing is nice. We can enjoy the cookie more together.” We can also model dealing with conflict. We can show the appropriate way to show our displeasure and model how to solve problems nicely. For example, “I felt sad when you took my pen. Can you please give it back? I will give you a turn when I’m finished.”
When a child is misbehaving, it is important to stay calm. It can be very hard, but arguing and joining a child’s wild state really won’t help. It’s important to hold your ground. Be firm but kind. Deep down you still love them and that should still be apparent. If the child is really feeling wild, you can withdraw from the conflict, saying you will be right over (wherever) when they are ready to talk. It is crucial to resolve issues together. Children need to understand why they can’t behave in certain ways and what behaviors would be better instead. Talking about issues with you also strengthens their bond with you. They respect your opinions and reasoning. Using logical consequences also helps children to understand and follow rules.
In difficult situations, we can give the child choices to help them feel like they found their own solution. When they are part of the decision, they feel like they have some control over the situation and themselves. This helps them build self-esteem.
As the adult, we also need to respect the child and promote their independence. Teaching children to do things on their own will give them a sense of accomplishment. They will be proud of themselves. This is true both for tasks and behaviors. The best thing we can teach a child is to make good choices because that’s what a nice person does. If they value positive character traits, hopefully they will emulate them as well.