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Choice and Respect -- Montessori Young Toddler Week 1

I asked after my last post if anyone wanted me to continue my weekly baby series for another year, and the answer was a resounding "yes!" So, here we are! Another year, at some point I'll have to call this a toddler series, but for now I will stick with baby. I make no promises or guarantees about finishing it, but I will do my best! 

Montessori at it's core is about respect for the child. This includes respecting the child's own unique developmental path, respecting a child's choices, respecting a child's feelings, respecting that a child has different opinions, and so much more. But, there are times when as the adult you know that something has to occur, and in those moments a child may not want to stick with your plan. And then this can feel tricky. You want to show respect, but something still needs to get done. A child needs to take medicine, for example. Or a child can't run into a street. Or you need to take the child somewhere. 

Montessori Parenting: Showing respect and offering choices in difficult moments

For us, for Augustus, our challenge is ankle braces. I haven't talked specifically about this in awhile, but Gus faces some physical challenges. He was born with torticollis, that led us to physical therapy. This led to the discovery of his super low muscle tone. Along the way there has been some gross motor and developmental delay thrown in there. 

All of this led to Gus needing ankle braces a couple of weeks ago. These braces (AFOs) help to support his ankles as he stands and walks. His physical therapist discovered that his ankles could not support him and were collapsing inward as he started to stand and walk on his own. This can lead to long term damage to his foot development and to his joints. So as much as I hate having socks and shoes on my babies, it has to be done. And, he will wear them all the time for the foreseeable future. 

Montessori Parenting: Showing respect and offering choices in difficult moments

Back to respect, how do you introduce something mandatory with respect? Well first, you really need to ask yourself if this is necessary. I mean really. Can your needs wait? Does it HAVE to happen? If it does, then the answer is CHOICE. 

Not your choice, but the child's. How can you offer choice in the situation? How can you give your child independence, autonomy? Even if it's a small part of whatever needs to be done. For Gus, its asking him which brace he would like to place on his foot first, which pair of socks he would like to wear, which shoe should we place. It is giving him TIME to check these things out and to process what has to happen. There are times when he just wants a minute to play before sitting to put everything on. And, if we can give him that we will. 

Even with small babies, offer a choice! Give them some time. Give them some information. Show them respect. It doesn't mean that you can't get what you need to get done, done. Just that things may get done a little differently. 

How do you show respect to your child in tough moments? Do you have experience with AFOs in a Montessori setting? If you do, I would love your thoughts! 



Lori Lacaillade said…
THis is timely. All of a sudden my 11 month old daughter sometimes cries when I am trying to dress her in the morning. She already picks the outfit she's going to wear from a choice of 2, but now I'm thinking I need to let her have a minute or two to explore her clothes before she gets dressed. I know as she gets older she will become more involved in the process.
Karen said…
Teeth brushing has been more and more of a struggle since my daughter’s 2 year molars started coming in. She gets to choose where we brush (on a step stool at the mirror, on mommy’s lap, standing on the floor.) And I always offer her a turn with the toothbrush first. Lately ANY option is greeted with a hearty “NO!” though so it’s still a work in progress.

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