"Help me to be responsible by myself"
Helping toddlers control their impulses and understand what is expected in many situations can seem like a long process. This process can be more smooth if one keeps in mind the basic needs of the child. Children need to be involved in activities that are purposeful, interesting and challenging. When their environment is set up this way the child becomes increasingly independent.
When setting up a Montessori environment for the children the guide follows these key points:
1. First, the child’s space should foster self-discipline: one where activity is possible, where there is a friendly attitude to make mistakes, where inner motivation is nurtured, and where there are predictable and consistent limits.
2. Second, it is important to give them choices.
3. And third, make time for the child to do these activities at their own pace and respect their work and play.
Adults don’t really enjoy doing the dishes or the laundry but at this stage of life for the toddlers, they absolutely love these things. They see mom and dad doing it and they want to be part of that and help too. Giving them the opportunity to do this helps them understand the routines and ways of the life they are becoming a part of. This makes them feel secure and happy and because they are more connected to life, they start to become aware of the consequences of the things that they do.
The activities the child does are centered around two things, taking care of themselves which makes them feel independent and taking care of their environment/home.
Some activities in the classroom can also be done at home:
- Dusting, sweeping, mopping, cleaning windows
- Laundry: sorting, loading/unloading, and folding
- Kitchen: setting the table, loading/unloading dishwasher, washing dishes
- Misc: grocery shopping and feeding pets
It is important to keep in mind that the child does not work as adults do. In fact, the end result may be messier than when they began. This process is far more important to their growth than having clean floors. When weighing out the outcome for the long run it is more important that the child begins to develop this self-discipline when they have the desire to do so than having to convince or bribe them to do so in the future when they are older.
Setting limits teaches a basic life lesson that we can’t have everything we want. We are all influenced by the way we were raised and we will either accept or reject what we experienced as children. But there is still middle ground between overly permissive and a very strict approach.
At times it may be difficult to set limits because we don’t like to say no or because we want the child to be happy above all else. Unfortunately, if we take that approach they will not learn to accept limits or how to deal with disappointment
A child under three is not a reasoning child and wants what they want. They can’t think about what is safe, appropriate, or even possible, so it up to parents to set and maintain the limits. Give the child choices that as parents you are willing to do or you will be happy with either decision they make (like what they want to eat or what they want to wear).
With time and consistency, the child realizes that there are situations where they will have the opportunity to make a choice and other situations are not negotiable.