It’s been nearly 6 months since I set up The Montessori Notebook. Whooosh. That went fast.
I’m realising just now (ha!) that what I am hoping you will be learning along the way is a Montessori mindset – respecting the child; preparing their spaces so they are beautiful and engaging for your child; being neither their boss nor their servant, but a guide to support them; and to see the world through their eyes.
I get lots of questions from parents like, “My child isn’t listening to me” or “I find myself saying no all the time”.
And what could be handy to help you along the way is a little “How to talk Montessori-style”, a sort of Montessori translator if you will.
You know when you say “Good job” for the 100th time, and you know you could say something that is more meaningful, supportive and objective.
When you say “Don’t touch that”, and you know you could say something to tell your child what you’d like them to do instead.
When you’ve nagged your child to death to brush their teeth, and you know you could find other ways to be with them that isn’t just a nagging parent and child relationship.
So here is a quick guide to help you add more Montessori into your lives.
How to talk to kids Montessori-style
1. To avoid being your child’s cheerleader and heaping on the praise
Instead of “Good job. You’re so clever”
you could say, “You look so pleased. You put your shoes on all by yourself.”
2. Avoid labelling your child
Instead of “You’re so naughty/pretty/smart”
you could give them another picture of themselves, “You know how to be kind/thoughtful/generous too”
3. Work out a way with them to get things done
Instead of “It’s time to sit at the table”
you could say, “We are going to eat dinner in 5 minutes. When you are finished your puzzle, let’s work together to get ready.”
4. Help them solve their own problems
Instead of “Don’t worry. We’ll just buy a new one.”
you could say, “The toy broke. How can we make it up to Jimmy? Perhaps we can help him fix it, or can you think of something.”
5. Avoid always taking the lead
Instead of “Let’s go take a look at the puzzles”
you could say nothing (wait to see what they choose)
6. Provide just as much help as needed – show them how
Instead of “You’re hungry. I’ll get you a snack”
you could say, “You’re hungry? What shall we make?”
7. Accept all feelings
Instead of “Don’t worry about it. It’s just a bump.”
you could say, “Ow. A bump can hurt.”
8. Use positive language
Instead of “Don’t drop the glass.”
you could say, “use two hands to carry the glass”
Instead of “Don’t touch his toy.”
you could say, “It will be available soon.”
9. Help them make amends rather than threatening + punishing them
Instead of “If you don’t stop hitting your brother, you are going into time out.”
you could say, “Use your words. What did you want to tell your brother?” OR “I heard someone say ‘stop’”
10. Be Switzerland and let siblings work it out rather than getting involved in who is right and wrong
Instead of “What happened here?”
you could say, “I see two kids that want the same toy. I know you can come up with a smart solution so that both of you are happy.”
11. Use connecting language
Instead of “I was so disappointed/frustrated when you ….”
you could say, “I’m torn. On one hand you want to stay at the park, and on the other hand I’m worried about getting dinner ready. What can we do so we can do both?” (there are 100s of possibilities to any problem)
12. Explore and find out together, rather than always having the answers
Instead of “Did you know that the moon is ….?”
you could say, “I don’t know. Let’s find out together.”
13. Engage cooperation
Instead of “Don’t climb on the table”
you could say, “The note says “No climbing”” (even if they can’t read)
*** Download a cheat sheet here to print and stick on your fridge to remind you what to say instead. ***
More tips to build a Montessori mindset
You don’t have to do this alone. I’m going to keep supporting you by sending you this newsletter each month. You can poke around in the archives to get even more ideas.
And you can also:
1. Get support from like-minded people, e.g., attending a Montessori playgroup
2. Find online communities online (like The Montessori Notebook ;))
3. Keep reading, e.g., Alfie Kohn’s book Unconditional Parenting
4. Start conversations with people about their parenting beliefs
5. Have someone in mind that you feel applies these ideas and think, “what would they do right now?”
6. Set an intention for your day how you would like to parent and visualise it happening
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