hands heart

Why I discipline my children?

Apr 12, 2019 - Parenting - By Carine Robin

Today, I would like to talk about discipline.

As a reader of this Montessori blog, I assume that you want to respect your child.

Discipline may sound old fashion.

You may think that discipline means punishment, blind obedience to authority and a harsh way to make our children behave.

Let’s talk about what discipline means from a Montessori perspective.

The Latin root for the word discipline is "discipulus”. It means "pupil".

From a purely semantic perspective, disciplining a child is to educate, instruct and teach him.

Of course, I’m aware that the word has been corrupted.

Discipline is now associated with punishment. But it wasn’t always the case.

We’ve seen that discipulus means pupil.

Let’s now talk about the word "disciple”.

Disciple means an ardent follower. Co-worker.

Well, that’s exactly what we want to achieve with our children.

We want our children to work with us.

We develop a collaboration with them. That’s how we live together.

In a sense, they are our disciples. We are their role-models.

Our children will follow us. They love us and are attached to us.

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.

We will build trust and collaboration between us and our child.

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)

When talking about discipline, Maria Montessori was, in fact, referring to self-discipline.

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

We give our child as much freedom as she can handle.

The only limits we have are: safety for the child, safety for others and collective interest.

You don’t need to make things complicated. Just keep safety in mind.

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.

Of course, I don’t mean that I exert authoritarian control over them.

I refer to the real, primary meaning of the word discipline: I guide my children.

I help them develop their independence within a framework that keeps them safe.

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.

They obey their parents or their teachers because they are afraid of the consequences.

Children who are self-disciplined respect rules.

They intrinsically know what is good for them and others. They develop their inner motivation.

My main point is: don’t be afraid to set some limits.

Being a gentle parent doesn’t mean not giving limits and pleasing our children all the time.

It means respecting our children’s needs and development.

Guiding them by being a role-model.

Providing them with a safe and nurturing environment.

Giving them as much freedom they can handle - but always keeping them safe.

Yes, setting limits is not easy.

Yes, we will face tantrums.

And yes, some of our own, buried down emotions might come up to the surface.

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

Related posts
How to get your partner and family on board with Montessori Parenting

Raising children with Montessori principles can be an incredibly rewarding journey, but it's not always easy to get your partner and extended family on the...

How to help your child settle into school

Has your child started preschool or school this September? The first year in a school can be an exciting moment but it can also be...

The most important emotional five a day for children

Years ago, when the campaign to encourage people to eat 5 fruits and vegetable went around, somebody did an emotional version of those 5 a...

About the Author: Carine Robin is a qualified and experienced Montessori teacher and founder of The Montessori Family. With over 15 years of experience, Carine offers a blend of professional insight and personal understanding as a mother of two and qualified child psychologist. Inspired by the success of her Montessori subscription box, she created The Montessori Family to provide a comprehensive resource for parents and teachers globally. This platform aims to support child growth and well-being through curated educational activities. Additionally, Carine maintains the UK's most popular Montessori blog and administers the largest Montessori UK Facebook group, making her a central figure in the Montessori community.

Carine Robin
Comments (0)