It might seem like Montessori parents like to show off what their children can do: “Look, my baby can drink from a glass! My toddler can slice a cucumber!” But honestly, our excitement has nothing to do with bragging. At least for me, sharing my son’s accomplishments is about telling other people: “Look what YOUR child is capable of, and imagine the sense of competence YOUR child can develop!”
Parents who are new to Montessori often observe a classroom and think: “My child would never fit in. He’s not capable of doing what those children can, or of behaving like those children do.” I want you to know that, although all children develop at their own pace, your child CAN become self-sufficient at an early age. Why is this important? Because research confirms that children whose independence is supported feel capable of dealing with life’s challenges, have a higher sense of self-worth, and tend to have a more intrinsic motivation to learn.
Remember, too, that it’s never too late to modify your approach if you realize you have been holding back your child. You might get some resistance at first, but if you know what every child is capable of, it will be easier for you to transmit trust and confidence to your child.
Here’s a great perspective from the book “Positive Discipline: The First Three Years” by Jane Nelsen:
When a baby is born, she is all but helpless. It takes days, weeks, and months before she learns to control her own movements, reach and grasp, and walk on her own. In her early weeks and months, your job as her parent is to keep her safe, to tend to her needs, to comfort her when she cries, and to be patient – very patient. But as she grows into toddlerhood, you may be surprised at how much she can do that can help her develop a sense of capability. On the other hand, if you do too much for her (in the name of love), she is likely to form the belief that she is not capable… Words alone are not powerful enough to build a sense of competence and confidence in children. Capability comes from experiences of accomplishment and self-sufficiency, and from developing solid skills.