Disciplining the Montessori Method: A Guide for Parents

The Montessori method is a unique approach to education that focuses on the individual needs of each child. It is based on the principles of mutual respect, self-reliance, and enabling children to appropriate their behavior. The Positive Discipline approach created by Jane Nelsen, Ed, D is often used in Montessori classrooms. This approach assumes the best in children, collaborates with them, and empowers them to develop self-discipline and problem-solving skills.

It can be difficult to put Positive Discipline into practice, as it requires a paradigm shift away from traditional methods of discipline. To effectively implement the Positive Discipline approach in your classroom, you may need to relearn many of your core beliefs about managing and teaching young children. This reference sheet can be used as a general reference or to reframe your thinking when you need it. Positive Discipline is not based on punishments such as threats, isolation or random consequences to motivate children.

Instead, it focuses on providing encouragement and support. Punishments are effective in the short term, but Jane Nelsen cautions against their long-term effects. Adults often worry about being permissive when they take a positive approach to discipline, but Positive Discipline is as far from permissive as it is authoritarian. Strategies such as encouragement and redirection do not necessarily allow children to evade structure and order.It is possible to be quite firm while still being kind and gentle.

Over time, you can become even more effective with a positive approach than with a punishment-based philosophy. Maria Montessori reminds us that socialization is part of the nature of the child, so Montessori Guides should create productive opportunities for children to discuss and talk.In general, Montessori and Positive Discipline seek to meet the needs of the child, not to mold the child into something that is not developmentally appropriate. Jane Nelsen explains that all behavior is “goal-oriented”, meaning that the child acts with a purpose, whether that purpose is conscious or unconscious. Often, undesirable behavior is due to reasons that the child is not fully aware of.

It is the teacher's responsibility to look into the underlying causes of misconduct and take steps to resolve the child's problem in a positive way.Children who behave badly are often called “bad children who “don't fit”. In reality, all children want to belong to the basic human level and have no greater human need than belonging. They just don't understand how. Once you are able to change your perspective, the reasons behind problematic behaviors become much easier to discern and address.Even when they are young, children want to know what is expected of them; they also want to be part of the community.

This is because your child loves you and wants to be loved by you. Children are also driven to explore, grow and develop a sense of independence as they discover the world around them.The Montessori method tells us that there is a fine line between freedom and discipline. Maria Montessori herself stated that discipline is less a fact and more a form - cultivated together with inner growth and awareness. This is why their Montessori school in Philadelphia gives students freedom within boundaries, where they can develop their own control center, giving them the ability to choose between good and evil on their own.It may be hard not to get angry with your child for inappropriate behavior, but you need to stay calm.

Get up to their level and remind them what appropriate behavior looks like. For example, if the child is being aggressive towards another person, tell him that his hands are for holding, drawing and carrying things, not for hitting.Children tend to react better to clear and concise information that is consistent and reliable - they thrive on structure. Children are often able to make their own decisions after a certain age; however, your child may be disappointed if the reward is not immediate or if there are too many options and consequences associated with it.To help your child make decisions as simple as possible - limit their toy selection to two or three items instead of an entire treasure chest. If you know your child can't make an informed decision about something, avoid coming to the rescue - talk to your child about what might happen instead.Comfort them if they are upset about it - try drawing their attention towards things they can decide for themselves.

This also works when your child misbehaves - remind them what appropriate behavior looks like in a neutral voice.Disciplining your child using the Montessori method requires patience and understanding - it's important not to get angry with your child for inappropriate behavior but stay calm instead. Get up to their level and remind them what appropriate behavior looks like using clear and concise information that is consistent and reliable.Help your child make decisions by limiting their toy selection or other options - talk about what might happen if they make certain decisions instead of coming in with an immediate reward or consequence. Comfort them if they are upset about it - draw their attention towards things they can decide for themselves.