Montessori Education: Finding a Balance

Montessori Education: Finding a Balance

The Montessori approach is neither ‘permissive’ nor ‘authoritarian’. It is actually an approach where children have freedom and autonomy, but within clear and consistent limits.

The challenge is to set clear and precise limits , to allow the child time to understand and integrate them and to know how to be understanding and emphatic when these limits upset him.

It means that we are compassionate, respectful and supportive as we guide our children. 

  1. How do we determine these limits?

You must think about the limits you set and know why you are imposing them. If your child asks “why?” you must be able to give them a proper answer other than "Because I said so!" it is important to have a valid reason when setting a limit and to be able to explain it. It implies to have clear and consistent rules.

Here are some examples:

  • "In this house we are kind"
  • "We respect each other"
  • "We eat at the table"

However, too many rules can have negative effects on children. This causes confusion and makes it difficult to understand exactly what is expected of them. The child would not feel free in his actions, so he would not become autonomous and confident in his abilities. The more flexibly the discipline is brought in, the better it works.

     2. Setting limits with love

  • Put yourselves at their height
  • Use a firm, yet loving voice
  • Walk across the room instead of shouting your message to them
  • Offer respect and empathy when sad, angry, frustrated etcHold them in your arms to make them feel safe if they lose control     

     3. Ensure their safety

When it comes to safety, whether on the street or near a hot oven or a source of electricity, there is no room for lack of clarity or approximation.

You can explain the rule to them while physically pulling them away so that they understand that "don't touch" really means "get away from this object" or "stay on the sidewalk" means don't go on the road because it's dangerous and explain them that you are protecting them because you love them.

You will have to repeat yourselves a lot, because children tend to check that the rule applies every time. But when you physically remove them, they understand the message more clearly.

    4. Take into consideration the age of your child to set limits

Due to the stages of brain development, it is impossible for young children to follow rules. You should know that before 3 years old, they only represent words to them. They aren't yet able to conceptualize. And even if they understand the words, they can't remember them.

Before the age of 4, the child does not have the capacity to hold back his actions either. The different areas of the brain enabling impulses to be inhibited are not yet mature. His need for discovery and exploration takes precedence over anything else. So it makes it difficult to follow a rule. It will take time and patience. There is still a solution for young children: adapt the setting and the environment.

Positive parenting is a balance between an educational authoritarian style (or military) and a permissive education (or loose): it establishes the rules and limits the child needs to grow and to fully develop by working together and communicating. You prepare your child to become a conscious and responsible adult.