COMMUNICATION WITH CHILDREN – THE MONTESSORI WAY
Montessori has vehemently opposed the “traditional” way of communicating with children. Of course, she didn’t think much of disciplining by force or pressure. However, there are no precise protocols from her on how to talk to children instead.
Instead, she wants to raise awareness of what communication is all about; namely much more than just verbal statements. The design of the environment, our own behavior, and the structure that we give to everyday life also say something to our children. The message we convey should be one of thoughtful respect. What a child should feel and know is that they are valued and loved, that they are allowed to develop freely, but that there is also a framework and rules.
The following communication guide is inspired by Montessori’s view of children and people and in particular by the “Practical Manual of the Montessori Method”.
1. PRINCIPLES OF RESPECTFUL COMMUNICATION WITH CHILDREN
Presence and calm
It is actually very fundamental for the success of any communication to be present and to concentrate on the other person.
This is the only way the message can really get through and a deep contact can take place. With children, this point is even more central; at the same time, it is so incredibly difficult to achieve this in hectic everyday life.
The “mental load” Is too much, and there is not enough time to breathe deeply. Only consistent practice really helps.
If there is one maxim that parents and educators can adopt from Montessori, then it is: back off!
That alone is a form of communication that conveys: You (the child) decide about yourself and I’m there if you need help.
A few well-chosen words are also much better received than a torrent of words. And contact with your child can also be easily established without words.
Clarity has a lot to do with the idea that less is more. If you say what is going on in full presence, calmly, clearly, and slowly, you will get by with fewer words.
Your child will understand what you are trying to say much better if they don’t have to process as much and don’t have to additionally interpret your emotions or a “hidden meaning”. But you also need a lot of clarity for this – so it starts with reflecting on yourself.
As adults, we’re often very verbal, so we’re very focused on the message. Children, on the other hand, are very embodied and perceive a lot on this level.
Montessori urges her educators to communicate with clear gestures and facial expressions and to rely heavily on their own role model function. Body movements should be carried out very consciously and precisely if you want to show or convey something specific.
Diversity in language expression
We often feel that we should rather speak to children in simple language. That is only partly true. As Montessori correctly states, children often learn to use the most difficult words correctly during the language-sensitive phase.
The only requirement is that we must explain or show very clearly what a word really means.
Silence is not a necessary evil in Montessori pedagogy, but the prerequisite for children to be able to be with themselves. The “Silence Lesson” is an exercise that she suggests to establish discipline and calm, in a very gentle way. Introduce rituals in your family too, in which you don’t talk, just listen and feel.
Consider the situation
Those who have too many principles often become inflexible in relation to reality. So, lastly, we would also like to suggest that you always focus on what is happening first:
What is my child doing right now?
How does he feel?
Is he receptive?
Sometimes, in the event of danger, quick action is required. You can talk afterward.
2. DEALING WITH CONFLICTS
Montessori’s path to discipline and harmony is to gently channel children’s impulsiveness and urge for freedom into productive channels. When a child is free and happily occupied, there is no cause for conflict, so the hope is.
Nevertheless, children’s impulsiveness and urge for freedom come up all the time, even in everyday Montessori life.
Depending on the nature of the conflict, there are different ways to respond to the child’s problematic behavior. They all have some things in common:
Penalties are an inappropriate means of disciplining. Children do not change their behavior out of insight, but because they are afraid of the consequences. Instead, you should focus on natural and well-considered consequences.
Children should not be forced to apologize or use other courtesies. Of course, an apology is acceptable if it is sincere. More valuable, however, are real teachings in conflict resolution and compromise.
Blackmailing, bribes, or emotional pressure often appear to be the only way out of a deadlock. But they don’t help in the long run, the child only develops expectations and prepares himself for a power struggle. The freedom of the child as a person should always be guaranteed.
Emotions must be expressed, otherwise the child will take them inside, and there they will do much more harm. Anger, sadness, frustration, and fear are accompanied calmly until the child can calm down. Only behaviors can be wrong, but not emotions.
Most conflicts in everyday family life arise when a child is not supposed to do something or when they are supposed to do something specific.
In the first case (you want to stop your child from doing something), you name the disruptive behavior directly and tell your child that you won’t let them do it.
If possible, you can offer him an alternative, for example: “I won’t let you throw blocks. You could hurt someone. If you want to throw something, you can take a ball. ”
It is fundamentally different if your child does not want to do something. If possible, you should never force them to do anything or carry them away against their will, etc. But often there doesn’t seem to be an alternative when you’ve announced you’re leaving the playground about twenty times.
It can sometimes be helpful to refer to natural circumstances (better: “It’s time to go home now because it’s getting dark” than: “I want you to go home now”).
It often helps to offer two alternatives (“Would you like to go home on the balance bike or should we take the bus?”).
If you are looking for a good Montessori for your little one, you can contact Mutendi Montessori now to get your child enrolled.