Theory & Practise

Realistic expectations - Understanding what drives your child

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When adult expectations are realistic and in tune with a child’s developmental drivers it is easy for the child to experience success and enjoy a sense of achievement. It’s also likely they’ll be more cooperative and easier to get along with.

No matter how carefully or how many times you explain it, a young child cannot understand adult values, adult problems or time scales, they can’t, they really really can’t.

Very often this mismatch of expectations and capabilities causes tension and unhappiness for both adult and child.

It doesn't matter to a young child that their parent will be late for work as they’re taking too long to put on their shoes or that spilling juice will ‘ruin’ the carpet or that their brand new top is stained by paint.

The child is intensely driven by a completely different motive, the quest for independence. The young child really does need to put their shoes on themselves and to pour their own drink, feed themselves.

It’s the job of the adult to understand the needs of the child and to work out how the needs of the parent and the child can both be met, most of the time.

From birth the child is powered by their internal timetable, each step along the way is a step toward the goal of independence and self direction. 

Children are absolutely desperate to do things for themselves almost as soon as they grasp the idea of what it is that needs doing.

As adults it's our job to create an environment where the child can, wherever possible, succeed in their ever-growing quest for independence and understanding of the world around them.

Practical ideas to support independence:

"Help me to do it myself" is often used as a short-hand way to describe the Montessori approach to meeting the child’s developmental needs, it’s a practical approach which can be used at home to create pathways toward independence.

As the toddler starts to want to do things for themselves here are some simple things you can do: 

  1. Open shelves at child height with activities categorised and organised with all components needed. These activities are age and interest specific, put away everything that does not fit that criteria.

  2. A child sized table and chair or a Tripp Trapp chair (google it, they're fantastic) so the child can use the dining table.

  3. A step to allow access to the hand-basin / toilet. A hand-towel at the right height.

  4. A learning tower in the kitchen to provide safe access to kitchen benches for easy involvement in the preparation of food.

  5. Child safe kitchen utensils and a child sized chopping board, plus a place to work.

  6. Organising practical storage so the child can access appropriate clothing and shoes.

  7. Purchasing clothing and shoes which make it easy for the child to dress themselves and go to the toilet.

  8. Walk at a pace that allows the young child to explore their surroundings.

  9. Time - allow enough time for the child to be successful and enough time and space for you to observe and really understand what your child is ‘telling’ you.

The more activities the young child can do by themselves for themselves the happier and more content the child will be and so too the parent as life will be much less of a battle.

Children are most content when their developmental needs are met.

What the child cannot do is understand or appreciate adult priorities and time frames, and it’s not their job. Their job is to strive for independence and ever increasing control, and when adults help them to do that everyone is happier.

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Do parents expect too much?

 Photo by  Senjuti Kundu  on  Unsplash

No matter how carefully or how many times you explain it, the young child cannot understand adult values, adult problems or time scales, they can’t, they really really can’t.

Very often this mismatch of expectations and capabilities causes tension and unhappiness for both adult and child.

It doesn't matter to a young child that their parent will be late for work as they’re taking too long to put on their shoes or that spilling juice will ‘ruin’ the carpet or that their new top will be stained by paint.

The child is intensely driven by a completely different motive, the quest for independence. The young child really does need to put their shoes on themselves and to pour their own drink.

It’s the job of the adult to understand the needs of the child and to work out how the needs of the parent and the child can both be met, most of the time.

From birth the child is powered by their internal timetable, each step along the way is a step toward the goal of independence and self direction. 

Children are absolutely desperate to do things for themselves almost as soon as they grasp the idea of what it is that needs doing.

As adults it's our job to create an environment where the child can, wherever possible, succeed in their ever-growing quest for independence.

Practical ideas to support independence:

"Help me to do it myself" is often used as a short-hand way to describe the Montessori approach to meeting the child’s developmental needs.

Parents can use this practical approach to create practical pathways toward independence.

As the toddler starts to want to do things themselves here are some simple things you can do: 

  1. Open shelves at child height with activities categorised and organised with all components needed. These activities are age and interest specific, put away everything that does not fit that criteria.

  2. A child sized table and chair or a Tripp Trapp chair (google it, they're fantastic) so the child can use the dining table.

  3. A step to allow access to the hand-basin / toilet. A hand-towel at the right height.

  4. A learning tower in the kitchen to provide safe access to kitchen benches for easy involvement in the preparation of food.

  5. Child safe kitchen utensils and a child sized chopping board, plus a place to work.

  6. Organising practical storage so the child can access appropriate clothing and shoes.

  7. Purchasing clothing and shoes which make it easy for the child to dress themselves and go to the toilet.

  8. Walk at a pace that allows the young child to explore their surroundings.

The more activities the young child can do by themselves for themselves the happier and more content the child will be and so too the parent as life will be much less of a battle.

Children are most content when their developmental needs are met.

What the child cannot do is understand or appreciate adult priorities and time frames, and it’s not their job. Their job is to strive for independence and ever increasing control, and when adults help them to do that everyone is happier.

Don’t forget to register your email so you can get helpful posts like this straight to your inbox, no searching required.

 

Get real! Do parents expect too much?

 Photo by  Senjuti Kundu  on  Unsplash

No matter how carefully or how many times you explain it, the young child cannot understand adult values, adult problems or time scales, they can’t, they really really can’t.

Very often this mismatch of expectations and capabilities causes tension and unhappiness for both adult and child.

It doesn't matter to a young child that their parent will be late for work as they’re taking too long to put on their shoes or that spilling juice will ‘ruin’ the carpet or that their new top will be stained by paint.

The child is intensely drive by a completely different motivation, the quest for independence. The young child really does need to put their shoes on themselves and to pour their own drink.

It’s the job of the adult to understand the needs of the child and to work out how the needs of the parent and the child can both be met, most of the time.

From birth the child is powered by their internal timetable, each step along the way is a step toward the goal of independence and self direction. 

Children are absolutely desperate to do things for themselves almost as soon as they grasp the idea of what it is that needs doing.

As adults it's our job to create an environment where the child can, wherever possible, succeed in their ever-growing quest for independence.

Practical ideas to support independence:

"Help me to do it myself" is often used as a short-hand way to describe the Montessori approach to meeting the child’s developmental needs.

Parents can use this practical approach to create practical pathways toward independence for their young child. 

As the toddler starts to want to do things themselves here are some simple changes you can easily make: 

  1. Open shelves at child height with activities categorised and organised with all components needed. These activities are age and interest specific.

  2. A child sized table and chair or a Tripp Trapp chair (google it, they're fantastic) so the child can use the dining table.

  3. A step to allow access to the hand-basin / toilet. A hand-towel at the right height.

  4. A learning tower in the kitchen to provide safe access to kitchen benches for easy involvement in the preparation of food.

  5. Child safe kitchen utensils and a child sized chopping board, plus a place to work.

  6. Organising practical storage so the child can access appropriate clothing and shoes.

  7. Purchasing clothing and shoes which make it easy for the child to dress themselves and go to the toilet.

  8. Walk at a pace that allows the young child to explore their surroundings.

The more activities the young child can do by themselves for themselves the happier and more content the child will be and so too the parent as life will be much less of a battle.

Children are most content when their developmental needs are met.

What the child cannot do is understand or appreciate adult priorities and time frames, and it’s not their job. Their job is to strive for independence and ever increasing control, and when adults help them to do that everyone is happier.

Don’t forget to register your email so you can get helpful posts like this straight to your inbox, no searching required.

 

One simple way to get kids to do what you ask

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For safety reason it’s important children can do what their parents ask when they ask.

So what should parents do when they ignore them or does the opposite to what is asked?

Is there really an effective way to get kids to do what they’re asked?

There is, the key is to use natural consequences. Not punishment, not anger, not nagging but natural consequences.

"Isn't that just another (nicer)way of saying punishment? What's the difference?"

"If you don't pack up your toys there will be no swimming tomorrow" is a punishment and not a natural consequence as the packing up of the toys has nothing at all to do with swimming.

A natural consequence looks like this: 

I will use the bath example I often use as it explains this approach so clearly and parents can use the principle in many different situations.

Here's the scene: It's bath-time, parents have been concerned about the child standing up and jumping about in the bath and have now decided that when in the bath the child must sit.

How then to implement this using a natural consequences approach?

When getting your child ready for the bath state clearly that when in the bath the child must sit. 

Once that direction has been given what happens if they continue to stand?

Using natural consequences the child if not sitting, gets out. 

So let's look in a little more detail as to how a natural consequence might work in this practical example.

Before the child gets into the bath you explain that they must sit. For example, "sweetheart when you get into the bath you must sit down (as it's slippery and therefore dangerous...)" make eye contact and touch the child gently ensuring that you are connecting and engaging with the child.

Put the child into the bath and if they are standing wait a few moments and then say " remember what I said about sitting down?  Would you like me to help you sit down or can you sit down all by yourself?"

Again wait a moment for the child to respond, if nothing happens ask , "have you decided to get out now?" If they continue to stand remove them from the bath. Do it gently and kindly.

Here is where tone is really, really important, do not admonish the child, merely acknowledge their decision. "OK you decided to have a very short bath tonight so let's get you dried and dressed in your pyjamas so we can choose a story (or whatever is the routine)"

The child is not being punished,the parent is accepting the child’s decision to get out. The parent’s decision is that the children may not stand in the bath.

If your little one screams and wants to get back into the bath you can on night one or two as they are learning the new routine pleasantly say something like ..."Oh you would like to sit down in the bath, let's try that shall we?"  This only applies on night one and two (at most).

On subsequent nights do not give a 'chance' as this will just become the established routine just say pleasantly "oh bath time is finished tonight,  you can decide tomorrow if you want to sit and play in the bath"… then move on quickly to the next part of your evening routine. 

Don't go on about it, don't explain it all over again, move on - all the while keeping a light pleasant tone.

The next evening start anew, simply state "sweetheart remember what we talked about, when you get into the bath you must sit down (as it's slippery and therefore dangerous...)" again make eye contact and touch the child gently. No reference to not sitting or consequences. Again you can say something like 'shall I help you sit down or can you sit all  by yourself?" Wait a moment for the child to comply. If the child continues to stand again take them out and move on, just remarking gently that you see they've chosen to have a very short bath.

No repeated warnings, no threats or admonishment just respect for the choice the child makes within the clear boundaries you have provided.

Once you state clearly that when in the bath the child must sit, the natural consequence is that the child if not sitting, gets out.

The same principle applies to many many situations, sitting on the swing, getting into bed for story-time, sitting at the table while eating, sitting during story-time at the library, washing hands before eating, wearing a sunhat to play outside.

It's really important that once you have decided that something is (or is not) to be done that you follow through.

If you don't mean it, don't say it, if you do mean it follow through.

Following through is the secret to getting a child to do what you ask.  When you follow through with natural consequences, delivered lovingly, your child will know you mean what you say.

Using natural consequences increases your credibility and emphasises your trustworthiness (the child can trust you mean what you say) and who doesn't want that! 

What does it mean when Montessori talks about the work of the child?

"Play Is The Work of the Child” Maria Montessori

Research shows that 75% of brain development occurs after birth, most of it in the early preschool years.

Early experiences and relationships are vital as they stimulate and influence the development of your child's brain. These experiences influence the development of motor skills, language, socialisation, emotional well-being, creativity, problem-solving and learning ability.

To be positive the activities available to the child must meet the developmental needs of the child. If the activity is too hard or if it is too easy the child becomes either bored or frustrated.

It's important to regularly review your child's toys and activities to see that they are still appropriate, do they still provide enough challenge? If they don't then and they’re too easy, remove them.

Likewise, at times like birthdays and Christmas children often get lots of toys some of which will be too difficult. Put the too difficult ones away and use them later to replace those that have been outgrown.

If you take your lead from the child, especially with things they are desperate to 'help' with or to do by themselves you will see where they (and you) need to go.

Clothing is a good example. You can select some pieces of clothing which are easy to get on and off and put them in a practise basket so the child can choose to practise putting them on and off as often as they wish.

Giving your child a low stool to sit on when putting on clothing, slippers, shoes and such like makes it much more likely the child will be successful. 

Washing dishes may be a chore to we adults, to the young child, it is a deeply satisfying achievement. If a child is given the choice between pretend play and real tasks, real wins every time.

Find as many opportunities as you can for your child to participate in the real everyday activities of the family, if you can do this you'll all be much happier.  Things like: helping unpack or stack the dishwasher, sorting cutlery into the drawer, helping hang out the washing (on their own lower line) pairing socks, folding facewashers, wiping their own little table or chair, getting ingredients from the cupboard or fridge, and dozens more.

Also, by looking objectively at the toys your child uses and the ones they don't, and which activities they most enjoy and which they don't even when encouraged, you can begin to understand which are the elements of each. This valuable knowledge will help you to plan positive, meaningful activities and life will be more fun for everyone!

Enjoy these wonderful early years where each day the miracle of developing life unfolds before you. 

Your child is hard at work every day, working to construct the adult they will become.

A beginners guide to a gentle, more holistic approach to child rearing

The choices we make for our young children lay the foundation for all that is to follow. Such choices deserve our deepest consideration.

Like any good foundation the foundation on which you base your parenting should be strong and supported by good, credible information.

Guiding principles, agreed by both parents which underpin daily decisions, provide security through consistency.

There is a maze of parenting information to be navigated and lots of people offer any number of quick fixes.

Instead of quick fixes I advocate a thoughtful, practical approach to parenting inspired by the philosophy of Maria Montessori. 

Montessori parenting seeks to take a gentle, respectful, holistic approach based on understanding the developmental needs of the child.

As well as a unifying theory having a Montessori-inspired approach is wonderfully practical, it builds resilience and when the principles are followed, results in greater harmony for parents and children alike.

Understanding your child's ever-changing needs and creating a home which supports parents and children alike is a constant work-in-progress. 

A set of guiding principles act as a compass to guide you on your journey.

(Little) Kids in the Kitchen

 Kids love working in the kitchen and for that to be successful it's important to prepare ahead. 

Here are four basic steps to lay the foundation for success.

  1. A learning tower in the kitchen to provide safe access to kitchen benches for easy involvement in the preparation of food.
  2. A step to allow access to the hand-basin. A hand-towel at the right height.
  3. Child safe kitchen utensils (lots available on the net) and a child sized chopping board, plus a clear designated place to work.
  4. A child sized table and chair or a Tripp Trapp chair (google it, they're fantastic) so the child can comfortably use the dining table.

Now you are ready to get started, be sure you choose tasks which are suitable for the developmental level of your child.

Enjoy your time together passing on your skills.