How to educate children to the rules according to the Montessori method

Educating children to the rules and giving them limits is essential for healthy and harmonious growth. But to do this it is not necessary to oppress the children with punishments and threats. Just find the right strategies with respect for the little ones.

This is what Montessori educator Catherine Dumonteil-Kremer explains  in her book “Stop: placing limits on one’s own children through listening and respect” (Terra Nuova Edizioni). 
First of all, Dumonteil-Kremer explains that “the malfunctions of the human being are nothing but expressions of his suffering”.

So in this all Montessori sense of punishment does not make sense.

And they must be replaced by an understanding of certain behaviors. “Our son is not a puppet made to go straight to the people he loves most in the world: his parents, if we respect him, he will not blindly obey orders, but he will be happy to collaborate with us”. 

Here are some tips from Dumonteil-Kremer to pass on rules to children without resorting to blackmail and threats. 

Give it clear rules

1. The first few times you give a rule of behavior that concerns a good daily habit, do it together. For example, go to the bathroom to wash your hands together. Remember that you are your model of behavior. 

2 . To perform a task give him a time using a timer (that of the phone will be fine): two minutes to brush your teeth, five minutes to tidy up the bedroom, four minutes to put on pajamas … so your request will become more fun, almost a game. 

3. When you give a rule, use a few words, so you do not risk provoking guilt or making judgments. For example, better say: “Cecilia, the pajamas!”, Compared to: “you have not yet worn the pajamas! Every evening the usual story … Move!”

4. Always try to be energetic when you propose to do something: the tone of voice can communicate a stimulating or otherwise depressing message. 

5. Give him the opportunity to choose, he will be more motivated to obey. For example: “Do you prefer to tidy up the room now or after having brushed your teeth?”. To be able to propose the possibility to choose means to feel a feeling of freedom, even if rather limited.

6. Avoid passing the rules as if they were advice. All the sentences that begin with “You should” You have to “… induce a profound resistance in children. 

7. In the face of his improper behavior, do not judge him or make him your moral, but freely express your feelings. For example: “I become furious when I see all your legos in disorder”. 

8. Then clearly express the behavior you expect from him: “I expect that after playing with lego you put them back in the box”.

9. When your child makes an excessive request, you have every right to respond negatively. You do not have to feel guilty, waste is part of life.

10.  Accept his anger. The “no” can generate in your child a suffering that usually results in anger. All you have to do is stay with him and listen to him, even if the child is furious with you. It is not easy, but try to think that with his outburst he is implementing a process of healing from his suffering. And to make it heal well you have to stay with him. 

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