Greetings Toddler 2 Families!
We have had a busy month in our classroom. Some of the most popular materials being used lately are water color painting, picture to picture matching featuring Georgia O’Keeffe art, leaf polishing, TAG number box 0-5, The Bear Went Over the Mountain storyboard, feeding the fish and cooking. We had two guest readers visit during the Big Read week – thank you Sean and John! Lastly, the children have been enjoying working in the snow with sleds, shovels and buckets.
"Discipline must come through liberty." -Maria Montessori
Have you ever heard your toddler say, “No” to you? If you haven’t, are you sure you have a toddler? If you have, you are absolutely not alone. One staggering statistic I learned in my teacher training is a typical two-year-old will say “No” to an adult’s request about 75% of the time. Maybe this statistic brings you some peace of mind to know your child is not being defiant or disrespectful, they are a typically developing two-year-old. According to Maria Montessori, why does this happen? What can we do with this information?
Why, Maria? Why?
Dr. Maria Montessori writes in great detail about the complexities of the child’s will, discipline and obedience. The will of the child plays an important role in directing them toward their needs to evolve into themselves. Think of it like a guiding urge. Discipline is not a technique imposed by the adult as one may think but is regarded as an internal social and moral compass. Dr. Montessori theorizes there are three stages of obedience with children under three-years-old falling in the first stage. In the first stage, a child is not yet able to obey unless it satisfies one of those urges of the will. In other words, “Does my mom’s plan fit in with my plan?” If the answer is no, then your child will likely resist.
The Montessori environment intentionally and inherently allows children to simultaneously develop will and self-discipline in many ways. First of all, they are given opportunities to perform purposeful work which builds order, concentration, coordination and independence. These are the building blocks for strong inner discipline and therefore obedience of self and eventually of trusted adults. Examples of purposeful work your child can do at home are setting the table, shoveling snow, washing dishes, washing windows, picking out their clothes for the next day, feeding your pets, spraying and scrubbing the tables after mealtimes, sweeping, mopping, small repairs, sorting and distributing laundry and the list goes on! Second, we use natural consequences and positive discipline rather than rewards and punishment. This method allows children to build motivation from within. Lastly, the teachers are role models constantly practicing the rules and expectations of the classroom community.
Remember, they have a right to say, “No.” It’s okay! They are exercising their freedom of choice to form the individual they will become. What if they began saying, “Yes” to every request from adults? Imagine where that path would lead them. We want our willed children to develop into willed adults therefore we need to give them freedom to practice. So, unless it is a matter of safety or respect, lean in and try to see things from their perspective. Connect before you correct. "Hmm.. You don't want to get your pants on. Do they have an itchy tag? Let's check." Perhaps they are tired, hungry, have to pee or are overstimulated?
Now, all this support and kindness is lovely, but we know we need balance. The firmness, consistency, structure and limit setting are just as important. Without them, children may not know where their boundaries are and that might be too much control for them. When there are consistent limits, they feel safe and supported.
Given the above statistic on how often a typical two-year-old says, “No,” you may not want to ask your two-year-old to do something if you think the answer is going to be, “No.” Instead, make a firm and direct request. For example, instead of “Could you please put your toys away?” try “Please put your toys away before we have dinner.” Leading into the next activity can give the child momentum and something else to focus on, too.
If they do say, “No,” try these techniques:
make up a song pertaining to the task at hand
implement appropriate and respectful consequences (for example, if you ask your child to put their shoes on and they say, “No,” a reasonable consequence is they will have to get in the car without shoes and you will pick which ones they wear). Let them know beforehand what is coming and follow through.
Have some consistent sticky spots in your day? Please know we are here to support you in your parenting journey. We may also be able to recommend books or websites with helpful information.
All our best,
Amanda Isaksson, Acadia Prestidge and Jill Jaworski
Friday, February 14 - Friendship Day. Wear pajamas to school! Also, we are still looking for a parent volunteer to come cook some ‘cakes with us. Please let us know if you’re interested!
Saturday, February 15 - Parent and Staff Panel and NVC Education at Little Yellow Studio from 1:30 - 3:30 PM