The hardest thing to do as a mom is to learn to let go. You’ve held on tight for so long. It’s easy when they’re little to hold on tight, and it’s helpful to be the only one in control – in charge – of everything. But those babies grow into toddlers and then they grow into adolescents and teenagers who can fend for themselves. Well, we HOPE they can fend for themselves. And they can. IF we have taught them how.
How to Raise Independent Children Using Montessori-Inspired Parenting
Learning to let go is a process. It takes time. It’s essential, though, to learn new things. Children are no exception. The best thing you can do for your child is to teach him or her how to be independent. Be an independent thinker. An independent learner. An independent doer.
If you’re anything like me, there are some things that you like done a certain way. For example, the towels in the linen closet need to be folded just a certain way and they all have to be placed in there facing the same direction. The dishes in the cabinets each have a very specific place. Squirrel’s cups go on the 2nd shelf (because she can’t reach them anyways), and the plastic cups are on the first shelf. Glasses are on the 3rd. Superman and Wonder Woman coffee mugs go on the second shelf in the coffee mug cabinet. Don’t let me find one of these cups where they don’t belong – it makes me nuts. I see you nodding your head with me. You know my pain.
I need that order in my life because we always have so much going on in a given day so those little bits of order are very comforting to me. Children are the same. They need order in their environment.
Teaching our children how to do these chores, to make them independent learners, thinkers, and doers can be quite the challenge to those of us who can be (loosely?) classified as control freaks. You know who you are. 😉 To help you, here are a few key things we, as parents and educators, can do to ‘let go’ of the reins and encourage our children to be independent individuals. It is this independence that feeds their confidence and self esteem, so it is absolutely essential that we help them by ‘letting go’ and allowing them to learn.
Understand there will be mistakes.
Mistakes are a part of learning. If you embarrass the child or shame them for making a mistake, you are damaging their will to learn. They will not be eager learners if they feel like they will be ridiculed or shamed for making a mistake. When you first learned how to read, did you make mistakes? I am sure you did. No one is perfect – let your child know that and encourage them to keep pushing on beyond the mistakes. Aside from telling them they made a mistake, give them the “WHY” of it. Why is it a mistake and how can they avoid it in the future? This will help them understand the task and how it should be done.
Do not expect perfection.
I’m not talking about mistakes. I’m talking about that towel in the closet that is turned the ‘wrong’ way – or that Wonder Woman coffee mug that somehow found its way on the first shelf, rather than the second shelf. Look at the big picture: were the towels folded and put away? Yes. Was the dishwasher unloaded and dished put away? Yes. Acknowledge what is right and encourage the child. Saying “That’s wrong. Wonder Woman mugs don’t go there!” is totally different than saying “Thank you so much for your help! Next time, let’s put the Wonder Woman mug up on the 2nd shelf with the others.” Encourage the correct behavior and you will receive it.
Prepare the environment.
One of the main premises of Montessori is the prepared environment. In order for a child to be successful, you must prepare the environment. Are materials readily accessible to the child for the task which you are assigning? Does the environment foster independence? Can a child move from task to task in a safe manner with all the tools readily accessible?
Let. Go. Allow ample space for learning.
I mean both physical and emotional space. In order for a child to be independent, they must be independent. I know, that sounds funny, but it is true. A child cannot be independent if we are always there staring over her shoulder, or breathing down her neck. She may fall, yes, but that’s okay. She will get back up on her own too. I have seen it. I promise you. We cannot always be there to pick them up when they fall. Doing so creates a false sense of security and creates such bad habits – on the part of the parent and child.
Guide, do not instruct, and do not interrupt.
Show the activity, and then let the child work on her own. Give her space to make those mistakes, and to practice. Do not interrupt her work to correct her. A child’s uninterrupted work cycle is one of the most important pieces of Montessori education. It is during this uninterrupted work cycle where the exploration and the most learning occur.
An independent child is a healthy child; a well-adjusted child. The most effective way to raise healthy, well-adjusted children is through Montessori-inspired parenting. I have been a Montessori parent for over 20 years and I would love to help you learn how to be a Montessori parent, too.
If you would like more information on how to implement Montessori parenting in your every day life, enter your email address below. You’ll be enrolled in my free Introduction to Montessori course and the materials will be sent directly to your inbox.
Let me know: What is one thing you would like to learn about Montessori?
Other posts in the Montessori Monday Series:
Grace & Courtesy: 5 Golden Phrases
How to Implement Montessori at Home for Newbies
Why Montessori is the Only Education You Need
Other Montessori Resources:
Montessori Dressing Frames will teach your child to dress independently.
6 piece child-sized cleaning set – your child will love to help with the chores when they have tools their own size!
Montessori Sandpaper Letters and Numbers are an essential part of the Montessori curriculum.