by Simone Davies
One thing about the Montessori approach is how we show respect to the child. The most powerful way for us to teach our children how to respect others is for us to model it and for them to absorb it every day. Here are ten ways we can show respect to our child:
1. Soft hands—the way we handle them
2. Listen—stop and really listen to their words, their expressions, their face, and hands
3. Use kind words—even when setting a limit
4. Avoid baby talk—speak to them as we would to an adult
5. Let them know what we appreciate—give feedback: “You put all the blocks back in the basket ready for the next person!” (rather than empty praise such as “good job”)
6. Allow time (as much as possible)—for movement, for conversation, to walk at their pace
7. Include them in daily life – let them help contribute in family conversations and make (age-appropriate) choices
8. Find ways to work with them (“Can you help me carry this heavy box inside?”) rather than threaten, bribe, or punish them (“If you don’t come inside right now, I’ll…”)
9. Look them in the eye and accept them for who they are— we can teach skills, but it is not our job to change them
10. Let them see how capable they are—set things up for them to have success; provide hands-on learning opportunities that they can master by themselves
Be a model of honesty to our child – even if it’s embarrassing at times, our vulnerability will show them that we trust them, and they will be honest with us and trust us. This can also mean apologizing when we get something wrong instead of blaming someone else. “I got it wrong. What I should have done is … What I should have said is…”
Does this mean children can do whatever they want?
This does not mean that the adult is not in charge. We will set a limit when needed. Not passive. Not aggressive. But in a respectfully assertive way.
• “I’m not going to let you keep hitting me. You need to sit down, and I’m going to calm down.”
• “I can’t let you hurt your friend. I’m going to sit here between you.”
• “That vase can break. I’m going to put it up here, and we can find something else to bang.”
Simone Davies is the author of The Montessori Toddler and co-author of The Montessori Baby, comprehensive guides to raising toddlers and infants in a Montessori way. The books are based on her 15+ years’ experience working as an AMI Montessori teacher in Sydney and in Amsterdam. She also has a popular blog, instagram, and podcast The Montessori Notebook. She is also mother to two young adults. Simone currently runs parent-child Montessori classes in Amsterdam at her school Jacaranda Tree Montessori and is working on another book with Junnifa Uzodike, The Montessori Child for children from 3-12 years.
Finding Montessori helped her so much when raising her own children, and it’s now her passion to help other parents introduce these ideas intheir homes. She was looking to find a way to be with her kids that wasn’t about bossing, threatening, or bribing them. Or giving them free reineither. And she wanted them to have a positive experience of school, not just to pass tests, but to love learning.