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Montessori Approach to Discipline

Many people assume that Montessori taught children are  allowed  to  do  whatever  they  want,  without punishment. To some extent, this is true—children are given the freedom to make their own choices and explore their   environment   independently.   There   are   no punishments; however, that doesn’t mean that there are no rules. Discipline is approached as a learning opportunity. Others assume that Montessori children are missing out on being children—which is simply not the case. The children are treated with respect, and nothing is forced upon them. They are presented with opportunities and are allowed to make  their  own  choices  within  a  safe  and  controlled environment.  Here  are  some  tips  for  the  Montessori


approach to discipline:


Offer help when required: If your child needs your help, they will more than likely ask for it. If your child is upset or frustrated, you will be able to tell if they need your help or support. It can be difficult to communicate with a child that is extremely upset or is having a tantrum. It would be best to help your child calm down before you try to understand the problem. Be patient with your child while they calm down. Once they have settled, you can get to the root of the problem and figure it out together. Your child needs to know that you acknowledge their feelings. When they are having a difficult time, show them that you understand and try not to diminish their feelings. Listen to what they have to say and try to calm them down by encouraging conversation. Allowing a child to express their emotions and feel understood will make them feel safe and comfortable with you. They will know that you

support them and that you will be there for them. They will not feel afraid to share their feelings with you—which will allow you to connect with your child on a deeper level. Your child will learn how to control their emotions at a young age.


Promote freedom within a limited environment: Allowing a child to have freedom within a safe and secure environment will give them the opportunity to build their independence while developing essential skills. If a child has too many restrictions or boundaries, they may start to feel trapped and very limited on what they are allowed to do. The child may feel scared to participate in activities, which could hinder their development. They could also start to do things in secret out of fear of getting caught. On the other hand, if a child has no boundaries or rules in place, they will think that it is OK to do whatever they want, whenever they want, without thinking of how it could affect others. A child with no boundaries may find it hard to feel satisfaction or reward. Find a balance that suits you and your child. Set clear limits and boundaries, and be sure to stick to them. Being consistent with the rules you set will help your children get used to them, and they will become a part of their everyday routine. It will also help you to build a trusting relationship with your child, as you both know where you stand with one another. You can gently remind your child of the rules regularly. You can set up a Montessori home environment that favors your set rules as well as your child’s wants and needs. Encourage responsibility: Children will fall out with each other from time to time, and when this happens, it is a perfect opportunity for us to teach them how to deal with it. Showing your child how you tend to someone that is hurt or upset will

encourage them to do the same. Your behavior towards others will affect how your child treats people. Show them the importance of kindness and explain how their actions can affect others. Children will learn to take responsibility for their actions. Teaching responsibility to your child from a young age is very important. Being responsible will help your child to become resilient and will give them a sense of purpose. Encouraging your child to tidy up after themselves, water plants, or take care of a family pet will help your child learn how to take responsibility for their community. Teach your child to look after their belongings. Don’t replace broken items constantly. Instead, teach your child that if they break something, it is gone. You can then wait a while to get a new one. It will teach your child to take care of their stuff. Teach your child self-care. Allowing your child to dress themselves, brush their hair, or wipe their nose will help teach your child how to take responsibility for themselves.


Gentle direction instead of rewards and punishments: Bribing, rewarding, or punishing a child is like comparing them to another person’s standards. Your expectations are coercing your child’s actions and thoughts. Children have the capability of developing inner discipline. Providing them with a developmental environment will allow them to detect their errors and mistakes. It will enable the children to make instinct-based decisions and naturally determine right from wrong. Instead of offering rewards, you can allow your child to feel inner satisfaction from their successes. Expecting a reward for every win will be your child’s only motivation, and they will feel highly disappointed if they don’t get one. Rather than punishing your child when they do something wrong, offer them gentle

direction. Talk to your child, and work things out together. Explain the situation and help your child to understand why they should avoid doing it again. Let them make their own decisions, but make sure you give them the knowledge they need to make sound judgments.


Talk to each other with respect: Children learn from us and tend to mimic the way we do things. How we communicate with our children will affect how they communicate with others. We mustn’t treat children as though they are inferior to us. They need to know that we value them as human beings and that their thoughts and feelings matter. We must build trust between ourselves and our children as they look to us for guidance and support. Always talk to your child and others with respect. Display manners and courtesy and encourage your child to do the same. Remember that everyone is different, including your child. Get involved with your child’s interest and encourage them to engage in yours. Sharing your interests with your child will help them respect other people’s interests aside from their own.

Help your child to communicate: You know your child best, so you can help others understand a situation from your child’s perspective. Observing your child will help you to translate their wants and needs to others. Show your child that you are there to support them when they need it. If you explain to your child what they are doing or feeling, your child will better understand their actions and emotions. Your child will start to come up with solutions independently. You can also talk about what you are doing, explain your actions and how you feel. If you take responsibility for your own actions, your child will follow suit.

Set limits and encourage kindness: When you set your house rules, make it clear to your children what they are. Be consistent, stick to your rules, and lead by example. Your children will be well aware of the boundaries set at home. From time to time, children will act out, and it is our job as parents to step in and guide them. For example, if you see your child hit another child, you could say something like, “I can see you want to hit, and I cannot let you hit someone. How about we use our words instead?” Explain to your child the consequences of their actions (hurting another). Offer them the opportunity to make amends.

Work together, not against each other: Instead of bribing or punishing your child when they don’t want to do something you’ve asked—work with them. For example, if your child gets frustrated because you’ve asked them to stop doing something, offer them an appealing and exciting alternative. Present them with options rather than ultimatums or bribes. Show them that they are an essential part of the family by including them in your day-to-day activities. If you reward your child for listening to you, they may start to expect rewards for everything you ask them to do. Teach your child that respect and kindness are an essential part of life.

The adult’s role: It is up to us to teach our children the value of kindness and respect. It can be challenging to discipline your child using Montessori methods, as it requires much patience. For our children to take rules seriously, we must follow them ourselves and lead by example. As parents, we are role models to our children. We need to practice what we preach when it comes to rules and boundaries. Take time to learn patience, practice meditation, and instill calmness into your life.






Montessori methods encourage the freedom of children within a respectful and supportive environment. The approach allows children to make their own decisions instinctively—within set boundaries that are adhered to by the household. Here are some tips to help when setting limits:


Set Clear Boundaries


You do not have to have many rules for the Montessori method to work in your household. You should have a simple set of rules. Be consistent and make the rules very clear to your children. Here are some examples of Montessori house rules:


We use words instead of physical action to solve disagreements.

We speak kindly to each other.

We enjoy our meals together as a family.


Limits With Love


Don’t enforce the rules; encourage them. From time to time, children will need reminding of the household rules. Be firm with your children in a calm and loving voice. Be sure to control your anger before approaching your child. Use breathing techniques and calm yourself down. When being firm, kneel down to your child’s height and talk to them respectfully. When your child gets upset, be compassionate and understanding and allow them to express their emotions.


Give Reasons

When setting your household rules, think of why and explain the reasons to your child. Your child will want to understand why they are not allowed to do something. If you do not explain, they may continue to ask or decide to find out for themselves. It is always good for children to understand boundaries and consequences. Giving your children the answers to their questions will improve their judgment.


Rules to Suit Age and Abilities


Your house rules will vary if you have children of different ages or as they grow and get older. Set rules that are appropriate to your child’s age and capabilities. As your child gets older, they learn responsibility and respect. They may disagree with the rules, and they may become very vocal about it. Listen to your child and their reasoning and carefully consider how they feel. Find a mutual ground that suits you both.


Working Together


You can reassure your child that you want what they want and that you would like nothing more than to provide that for them. You do not have to be in disagreement with your child all of the time. Work together to find alternatives and meet each other’s needs.


Be Safe


When it comes to safety and dangerous situations, you have to be firm! You have to make the rules very, very clear to your child. If your child puts themselves in danger, it is essential to act quickly and physically but gently move them out of harm’s way.







  1. Instead of telling your child what to do, allow them to make their own decisions. When you present your child with choices, you are allowing them to discover themselves and their interests. Forcing your child to do something they do not want to do may make your child feel resentful towards you.


  1. Try not to diminish your child’s wants and needs. If your child has a problem—work together and help them to solve it. Ask your child what you can do to help. If you cannot solve the problem, offer alternatives or encourage communication. Let your child know that you are there to support them.


  1. If you give your child too much praise, they may struggle to understand their true abilities. They may feel a sense of entitlement and may expect rewards for everything they do. It may affect how your child treats others, as they may feel as though they are more superior. If your child has worked hard at a task, you can express your recognition of their hard work.


  1. Let your child express all of their feelings. When they are upset or angry, tell them that these feelings are normal and that you also feel this way sometimes. Offer them support and understand things from their perspective.


  1. Try not to take sides or get involved with arguments between siblings. Describe their behavior from your perspective and tell them that you are confident they can work it out between themselves.


  1. Don’t step in unless you need to. Provide your child with the appropriate equipment and environment to

work independently. If your child asks for help with something that they can do for themselves, guide them through the process and only help when necessary.


  1. Instead of answering all of your child’s questions— give them the chance to see for themselves. When possible, physically show your child the information they need to work out the answer to their question.


  1. When making decisions that will affect the whole household, make sure you take everyone’s needs and feelings into account. It is a good idea to hold family meetings and discuss changes to ensure everyone is happy.


  1. Allow your child to explain their actions when they have misbehaved. Don’t jump to conclusions and punish your child. Give yourself time to evaluate the situation and listen to your child. Remind your child of the importance of kindness and respect.


  1. Don’t label your child. They may feel like they have to live up to this expectation. Praise them for their manners and respect.