One thing about the Montessori approach is how we show respect to the child. The most powerful way for us to teach our child how to respect others is for us to model it and for them to absorb it every day.
10 ways we can show respect to our child
- Soft hands – the way we handle them
- Listen – stop and really listen to their words, their expressions, their face and hands
- Use kind words – even when setting a limit
- Avoid baby talk – speak to them as we would to an adult
- 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 like “good job”)
- Allow time (as much as possible) – time for movement, for conversation, to walk at their pace
- Include them in daily life – let them help contribute, also in family conversations and to make (age-appropriate choices)
- 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…”)
- Look them in the eye and accept them for who they are – we can teach them skills but it is not our job to change them
- 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 too. This can also mean apologising 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 the child 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. I’m putting you 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.”