A few weeks ago Cathy Swan, the Head of School at Montessori School of Beaverton, came to Frog Song and gave a parent workshop on, “4 Goals of Gracious Parenting.”
1. Phrasing in the Positive: Children are action-oriented and are far more successful when given something to do rather than what not to do! Our children deserve kind guidance and non-judgemental information.
Instead of saying, “Don’t put your shoes on the couch,” we can say, “Shoes belong on the floor.”
Rather than, “Don’t chew with your mouth open,” we can say, “Please chew with your lips together.”
These simple adjustments will help you better communicate to your child and help them to be succesful!
2. Offering Choice: Children need to feel they are regular contributors to the daily life of the family and household. By offering choice, when approriate, they are more likely to cooperate.
We can ask them, “Which top would you like to wear today, the green or blue?” Or, “This weekend we can go to the movies or bowling. What do you think everyone would enjoy more?”
We can use choice as a way to give the child a chance to respond with dignity: “It’s time to clean up now. Which toy would you like to put away first?”
3. Have Age-Appropriate, Specific Expectations: Vague requests are confusing and open to interpretation, instead we can be more effective by being specific.
We can say “Please pick up all the clothes on the floor, fold and put away the clean ones, and put the dirty ones in the laundry basket,” instead of “please clean your room.”
Age-appropriate is based on what the child is capable of doing on a regular basis. What is just and fair for one child may be inappropriate for another, and often it is unreasonable and irrational to try to make the same rule apply for children of different ages and abilities.
4. Engaging, Instructing and Redirecting Rather Than Punishing: Punishment teaches nothing, often causes resentment and does not leave the child with knowledge of what to do next time instead. Giving a child information in a kind and straight forward fashion will not only instruct the child about what went wrong, but also give her faith in your guidance and support. If there is a consequence, it must be directly related to what happened and talked about beforehand.
One way to support this is practicing the art of empathy. This lets a person know you understand what has happened and care, “I see that you are really sad right now.” It is then possible to enable the child to own the problem, while the parent can then help the child analyze what went wrong and to be a coach about what to do next time.
In sharing these four simple, do-able goals of gracious parenting, Cathy gave our attendees many tools to use everyday that may help guide their children toward serene independence.
If you would like more information about how to be a Montessori parent please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thank you Cathy for coming and sharing all of this useful information with our community!