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February 21, 2018

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? 


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The Lion
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.