How to Discipline a Child Positively – The Montessori Way

Being a child did you ever play the word association game? The game where you have to say the first thing that comes to your mind on seeing or hearing a word. Didn’t allow you to think for long and didn’t ask for forceful thinking – anything that occurred right away was the answer! Did you ever answer for discipline?

From the very beginning of our childhood days, discipline as embedded in our brains has no better synonym but “punishment”. Right? Just how night would bring the thought of darkness, in the same way discipline usually brings something negative.

But interestingly, you might have never inquired on it either, discipline originates from the Latin word ‘disciplina’ meaning “teaching”. This further comes from ‘discipulus’ that translates into “pupil”.

Just how no one ever tried exercising the thought into the word “teach” on reading the word “discipline” – the same is for how years have passed in receiving the meaning of discipline from “to teach” to “to punish”!

But there’s one light that shined differently and brightened the aura surrounding the concepts and ideas of discipline and education of a child – Maria Montessori. Montessori’s approach to discipline consists of a perfect balance between discipline and freedom. Like any part of Milton Montessori education, it requires respect for the child.

The first idea that the child must acquire, in order to be actively disciplined, is that of the difference between good and evil; and the task of the educator lies in seeing that the child does not confound good with immobility, and evil with activity, as often happens in the case of the old-time discipline.” Maria Montessori

The following approaches are taken from a Montessori discipline practices to give you the insight to “positive discipline” which focuses on reverting back to the roots. It’s an in-depth understanding of the cause of doing wrong, the reason of opting for the wrong, instead of punishing. This article is especially for parents to help teach kids for setting the behavior right.

How to Make Things Right – From “to punish” to “to teach” – The Montessori Discipline

Here are few ideas for getting the practice started and up-bring brilliant kids:

  1. There is nothing as ‘bad Kids’ – Just try recalling back the time when you as a child was ever titled for having bad discipline. Did that feel right, despite the problem? There was something that had you cross limits (if any)? Remember that the core of positive discipline is the belief that “there are no bad kids, it’s just bad behavior”. As parents, the first step to understanding of positive discipline concept is that, the kids are just behaving bad and not bad.

That act of your child where he or she hits another child for which you felt shamed must have hundreds of different stress triggers behind it. Something in the environment is just not right that is influencing the behavior. Instead of reinforcing yourself and your child with the thought of ‘bad kid’ or screaming out for “why”, the situation will become better if you only say “that wasn’t the best behavior – but I would like to understand the cause”.

  1. Try Understanding How to Make Things Right – Just before the hitting part, if you managed to be there before time, try making the kid understand the usage of words instead. And if you managed to approach after the hitting part, tell your child that the act was not good but give him or her “time out”. This means saying sorry and if the kid is not ready to say sorry, then sitting with the child for a book or anything, until he can.
  2. Be Kind, Empathic, and Respectful – Understand kid’s reason, console, and convey what was wrong.
  3. Give Choices – Do pick your choices wisely but offer your child choices, whether of saying sorry or reading a book.
  4. Mistakes are Opportunities – what you teach your child though an act at this time will empower them for future and will teach something. So use the mistakes but for not launching lectures.
  5. Precaution is Better than Cure– Not all kids are good with sudden transitioning. Find the root cause to the behavior.
  6. Set Clear Understanding of Boundaries and Expectations – Let your child learn the truth and have clear goals and limits.
  7. Stop using Ordering and Demanding words, instead Use Single Word Reminders or Questions – Do anything and everything with a softer voice and expression and use single words.
  8. Let the Child Handles Consequences – You can allow your child to handle the natural consequences instead of being over protective. The confidence to do things by himself is better than being told what to do and what not to.
  9. Work Together – Sit with your child and talk about his or her feelings and needs, discuss your feelings, brainstorm together, and understand what she or he likes and dislikes and what you like or dislike.