Skip to main content

Responding as a Montessori Parent - Tips for Success

Honesty time, lately, I feel like I have been struggling with responding to my children in the way that I would like. I've been too quick to react, instead of taking time to really respond. Maria Montessori knew that the preparation of the adult was vital to the success of her method. This work takes work from us to really respond to children in a calm, loving, understanding way. 

Montessori Parenting: Tips for responding in difficult moments

And, that's not always easy. For me, it's probably lack of sleep, and too many commitments driving some impatience and crankiness. It has led to too many quick reactions. Times when I'm just not really taking the time to think about what my children are doing, and respond to the root needs/causes/desires at play. 

So, I wanted to create a small list of things to keep in mind as I try to respond more than I react. 

Take a Deep Breath

First, remember to take a deep breath. No matter the challenge, taking a deep breath can help to diffuse the situation. It gives us some much needed oxygen and keeps our emotions in check. It's also a great way to model emotional regulation to our children. So in those challenging moments, taking those few seconds to take a deep breath (or two or three) can really help to clear the head. Giving us the space to be available to respond. 

Reflect on Your Gut Reaction 

I'll stand up and admit that sometimes my gut reaction to things my kids are doing is just "nope." But, really, at the end of the day, that's an unnecessary judgment. There are times when my gut reaction doesn't meet what my children are doing. It may be that they are doing something differently than I intended, or are otherwise not meeting my expectations. So taking even a second to recognize my gut reaction and why I'm feeling that way is important. 

One thing that often helps is just sitting back and observing my children for a few extra seconds. Sometimes those observations help to shed light on what is really happening, give me time to think about the needs this behavior is meeting, and how to best respond with grace. 

Give it a Minute 

We live in this digital age of instant reactions, likes, comments, and information. And, it's easy to forget that children's brains don't work like that. It's hard to remember that sometimes it just takes a minute for children to shift their attention, or to respond to you. So before escalating the situation, just wait. Not in a commanding way, but in a present way. Everything doesn't need to be done instantly. Just be. And give your children a minute to meet you and respond. 

It's so hard to remember to be the calm. To be the prepared adult that Montessori environments need. But, I'll continue to try! 

Have you ever struggled with this? What tips do you use to remember to respond and not react to your children? 

---

Comments

The Lion said…
I appreciate the attempt at honesty. This is an important practice for all parents to engage in.

While breathing exercises, pausing for reflection, etc., are interesting techniques to try to head off an anxious reaction as it happens, the next level down in self-reflection is to consider what decisions you're making before these moments even happen that you're feeling so overwhelmed by them in the first place. You actually hinted at this in your post, that perhaps you've over-scheduled and over-committed and its put you in a tense mood. Ironically, your temptation to react negatively toward your children who are not meeting your expectations may be a form of projection in that you are actually disappointed with yourself and not living up to your OWN expectations, ie, "What is wrong with you? Why can't you get done all this stuff you committed to and still be serene and in control?"

They are, after all, children, so it's extremely unlikely that anything they themselves are doing is the source of your reaction. Emotion comes from inside of us based on our own values and judgments. What expectations or judgments have you made of yourself that are potentially unreasonable and may be contributing to this dynamic?

Are you modeling for your children the kinds of commitments and expectations you think would be reasonable for them to live their own lives by?

Good luck!
Anonymous said…
The Lion - Well said.

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2017

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure!

2017 UPDATE: This post has been updated to include a variety of brands and new product finds! Just a reminder that no one child will be interested in all of this or needs all of this. These toys are just here to spark ideas and give you a feeling for some Montessori-friendly options available! 


So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. 


First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created to…

Which Open-Ended Toys are "Worth it?"

As a Montessori parent, I try to provide a mix of materials in our home to engage my kids! That work that will spark joy, concentration, and repetition. It's not always an easy task, as Maria Montessori said, "Life is mysterious...only the choice of life can choose the work that the child truly needs. Therefore, the teacher respects this mysterious process and knows to wait with faith." So, there does sometimes feel like there is a bit of trial and error when it comes to choosing materials that your children need. 

For us, the right balance is easier to find when I spend time deeply observing my children. Watching their interests, sitting on my hands if I have to, letting them struggle a little with things, and letting them get bored. And what I have personally found is that here at home, a combination of open ended materials and more structured work have been the right balance. Open ended toys wouldn't necessarily be found in a Montessori classroom, but they are perf…

A Montessori Approach to Purging Your Toys

Becoming a Montessori family has been life changing in so many ways, most obviously with the amount and type of materials we use in our home. Once you see why having so many toys is a problem, or when you make the decision to move towards Montessori, it can be completely overwhelming. But, taking a Montessori approach to purging your toys is possible! And, it doesn't exactly mean that you have to throw away everything you have and start over with only expensive wooden toys. It will mean taking a hard look at what you have and whether it really fits with Montessori.


One note, however, Montessori is at its core about following your child's own path and respecting your child as a whole person. So, if your child has a toy, lovey, book, or whatever that your child super loves or is super attached to, but it doesn't fit Montessori ideals, don't take it away. Follow your child, that is more Montessori than whether or not you own some specific consumer product. 
How to Purge You…