Do you have an active toddler or a strong-willed pre-schooler? Are you wondering how to…
As a reader of this Montessori blog, I assume that you want to respect your child.
Discipline may sound old fashion.
Let’s talk about what discipline means from a Montessori perspective.
The Latin root for the word discipline is “discipulus”. It means “pupil”.
Of course, I’m aware that the word has been corrupted.
We’ve seen that discipulus means pupil.
Let’s now talk about the word “disciple”.
Well, that’s exactly what we want to achieve with our children.
We want our children to work with us.
In a sense, they are our disciples. We are their role-models.
We need to be mindful of the enormous power we have over our children.
If we purposely take our parenting decisions out of respect – always keeping in mind our child’s development stage – we will guide our child the best way we can.
Let’s now take a look at what Maria Montessori had to say about discipline.
“The children in our schools have proven to us that their real wish is to be always at work… Following their inner guide, the children busied themselves with something which gave them the serenity and joy. Then another thing happened never before seen... the arrival of discipline” (The Absorbent Mind)
In her time, discipline meant authoritarian control.
Children had to obey, without discussion, to their parents and teachers. They had to be seen and not heard.
Their inner needs were not respected.
For example: if a child was climbing on furniture, instead of being provided with appropriate ways to practice gross motor skills, he would be sent into a playpen or he would receive a slap on the wrist.
Thankfully, parental practices have evolved. Nevertheless, naughty steps and time out are still popular.
If you discard completely those practices and embrace a Montessori lifestyle, you will come across the idea of freedom and you will be told to follow your child.
Of course, Montessori is all about your child’s freedom: freedom to explore, freedom to choose, freedom to play/work as long as he wants with a specific activity…
But freedom is not abandonment.
“This does not mean that one is to do just what one pleases at the moment, or that one is allowed to play about with anything, using it as an accompaniment to one’s fancy.” (Montessori, “Principles and Practices,” pp.12-13, AMI Communications, 1979).
Freedom is choosing according to our ability.
“To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any power of control is to betray the idea of freedom”. Maria Montessori
The only limits we have are: safety for the child, safety for others and collective interest.
With freedom comes some necessary limits.
My children need limits. I am in charge of setting them.
This is why I proudly say that I discipline my children.
I refer to the real, primary meaning of the word discipline: I guide my children.
Children develop focus and attention through purposeful activities. They develop self-discipline.
Self-discipline is the ultimate form of discipline.
Children without self-discipline respond to extrinsic motivations.
Children who are self-disciplined respect rules.
My main point is: don’t be afraid to set some limits.
Yes, setting limits is not easy.
Establishing boundaries might seem like a daunting job, but it’s an important one.
Children who have been provided with freedom within limits will grow up being self-disciplined, focused and fulfilled individual.
I am sure you will guide your child on that beautiful journey.
If you want more info about disciplining your child the Montessori way, I’ve covered the subject in this blog article
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