Thursday, 19 January 2017

Respecting our children: how we raise our children

I love Montessori. I think it is a truly fantastic way to teach children. Really, that must be no surprise if you come on here regularly. If you're new, welcome! Today, I want to have a sit down, let's chat discussion with you lovely folks! I want to gush a bit about the beauty of Montessori.

For my husband and I, the way that the Montessori method teaches children just clicks and makes sense. However, for my family, at home, Montessori means so much more than just teaching - it is the way my husband and I see our children, treat them, and really, how we treat each other. 

A deep and profound aspect of the Montessori method is respect for the child. Not that I think you have to adopt a Montessori lifestyle in order to respect your children, but that is at the heart of how we live our Montessori inspired lives - a beautiful relationship of mutual respect. 
Respecting our children: how we raise our children by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #parenting, #montessoriparenting

My husband and I do not see our children as extensions of ourselves. They are their own individual people with their own desires, ideas, dreams, plans, thoughts, emotions, everything. We try our hardest to respect that, to understand that and to help them with those things. 

Our role as their parents is not to make sure they do what we say, but to try to raise well adjusted, happy, kind, helpful individuals. We want to encourage them, to help them through their struggles as best we can, and to love them. 

For our home, this really has a huge impact on how we discipline, how we speak to our children, and how we interact. 

When it comes to discipline, we do a lot of talking and preventing. It's not really even discipline as we rarely ever reach that point of our son 'disobeying' us or doing something that would warrant a punishment or discipline. Typically, we just talk. And it works. 

We talk because, again, our role as parents is to show to our children how to handle difficult situations. We explain the consequences of certain actions or explain why we want our son to do something in particular. Sounds far fetched, right? 

It works though. For example, my son, if he says he doesn't want to brush his teeth, we explain why he should. When he was two, it was as simple as saying, 'we brush our teeth because otherwise, they will hurt.' Now that he is four, we would say, 'We brush our teeth to avoid cavities. Cavities are painful...' we could even explain what a cavity is or why they come about in more detail. 

I think that sometimes, being a parent can feel like being a drill Sargent. We have busy lives, so many responsibilities, places to go and things to do! Do this, do that, come here, we need to a, b, c... It's really rather silly to expect our children to go along with whatever we command, when we command it. 

Sometimes, they want to do their own thing, they want to do what they had planned, even if it seems unimportant to us. Perhaps we want them to brush their teeth now, but they were planning to finish building that lego tower! Imagine how you would feel - you're planning to finish reading that chapter in your book or watch your favourite tv show, but suddenly someone tells you that you have to go brush your teeth and go to bed! Right now! You really wouldn't like that, right? And immediately? 

That is something my husband and I really try to be aware of with our son. We try to make compromises when possible. If it is getting close to bedtime, we let our son know that soon, we will be beginning our night time routine. He knows that he will have to stop playing, reading, etc soon. Sometimes he will ask to finish building. The thing is, why not? Why can't he? 

That extra five minutes of building his tower, getting ready for bed happily, that doesn't hurt us. We set the limit though - yes, you may finishing for five minutes only. Then we set an alarm on our phones. When the alarm goes off, he stops. It's a boundary that everyone is aware of. Alternatively, if it's just a few pieces, then we don't need to set an alarm, but we let him add 5 lego pieces. If it's reading a book, then, he can finish reading the book, etc. 

It's not a bargaining tool, or a manipulation to get extra time for bed. What we are teaching our child is that he can talk to us, and we can discuss the things that are important to him. We are teaching him that we respect him, his time, and the things he wants to do. 

We purposefully tell him in advance that in five minutes (ten minutes, etc), we will be beginning our bed time routine so he knows that he can finish his work. It shows him that we value him. 

Respecting our children: how we raise our children by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #parenting, #montessoriparenting

This bedtime example is of course, simply one of many, but I think it can be used in many situations. The point is to think about how your child would feel in that moment and why it is that you find it important that they do what you want them to do. And explain just that to them! Explain why you want them to do something

Try to avoid using phrases like 'because I said so' or 'it will make mommy sad'. You want to teach your child why certain behaviours are important. For example, we eat vegetables because it is important to be healthy to live a long life, have energy, and avoid being sick. You would not want to teach your child that we eat vegetables because otherwise, mommy and daddy will be sad, right?  What do they learn from that? What will happen when your child is older? Or if they are upset with you? You want them to know why it is important, rather than simply having them obey. 

Parenting is more than having your children obey. It is important as a parent to model the behaviours you want your children to adopt and to give them the understanding of why. And trust me, they want to know why! I'm pretty sure every little kid is an absolute expert in asking the question why so go ahead! Explain why! 

When talking to our son, whether it be to ask something of him, explain something, or to discipline, we try to talk to him like we would to another adult - respectfully, kindly, and patiently. I try to think of how I would want to be spoken to, or how I would talk to my husband. 

I want my son to speak to others with kindness, respect, and patience. The best way I know to teach him how to do that, and promote that in him is to model that behaviour for him in our interactions with each other. 

I also highly recommend getting down to your child's level. I struggle to get down to so because I use a wheelchair, but if you can, please do that! It shows our children that we respect them and are equal to them. Instead, my son sometimes chooses to climb on my lap to talk, or I kneel forward with my elbows on my knees so I am closer to my son's eye level. 

Of course, somethings are just non-negotiable and those have to do with safety. For example, a few weeks ago, my son was on his bicycle and nearly went onto the main road, which is very dangerous. I shouted to him to stop immediately. He did and then, I explained to him why he couldn't do that and reminded him of safety rules when cycling. There is no in between or compromise. He must absolutely follow those rules or we will not be going cycling together. He knows that. Not going cycling together is the consequence of dangerous behaviour. 

Really, we simply try to teach our son about why we want him to do something and why it is important in a kind way. We have done that since, well, since I can remember. Even when he was one year old, two years old, we just talk and explain. We do this to help develop a relationship of mutual respect and trust in our children. 

Respecting our children: how we raise our children by Welcome to Mommyhood #montessori, #parenting, #montessoriparenting

Questions? Let's interact!

How do you discipline your children? 
Do you have questions about parenting? 

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