There are two things that concern all parents: making children happy and giving them a good education, in every way. To achieve both, limits are very necessary as they serve as a guide for the little ones. But, how can we propose them in a respectful and effective way? We spoke with Marta Prada (Montessori guide, educator of positive discipline families, and author of the book 'Educate in happiness') to tell us what the Montessori method proposes on how to apply limits to children.
Parents want children to grow up freely, so that they find their own path and development in a natural way. However, it is necessary to propose a series of limits, since these are a way to guide them so that they are free and know how to live with respect and harmony with the people around them. That is why we can consider that limits are an expression of parental love for children.
To help parents set limits for children, Marta Prada talks about 'PEAR free limits'; and when talking about PERA he refers to everything that must be avoided when establishing them. By acronyms, we speak of:
- Constant bans
Nobody likes to have another person who constantly tells us what we can NOT do: 'Don't get on', 'Don't yell' ... That is why we must avoid negative limits and replace them with more positive ones. For example, instead of telling our children 'don't run', it will work better to say 'around here we have to walk slowly'.
'You are lazy', 'You behave like a bad boy' ... Labels end up changing the way children perceive themselves.
We can never put limits on children out of resentment. And it is that sometimes we are so angry because our children have broken a vase at home to play soccer or because something bad has happened to us at work ... that we get carried away with our children and act out of resentment.
- Threats or punishment
Threats and punishments can work in the short term, as the child may stop doing something he was doing so that he does not have to deal with a consequence that we propose. However, it is not a tool that respects children's emotions and does not have a long-term positive effect.
While all of this is what we should avoid, there are also certain considerations that we should take into account:
- Boundaries must be 'unnoticed'
That means that we must always establish this guide for the little ones, as it helps them to know how to behave, but children should also feel that they are conquering their freedom little by little. More than ordering and setting limits, we must inspire children to respect them.
- Limits must take into account the needs of children
This means that the way we propose them changes as children grow older. For example, with younger children it is better to use few and simple words, however, from the age of 3 we can ask more complex questions to children so that they understand and repair errors (for example, How do you think Can you fix it? What happened?).
- The limits must take into account respect for children, but also your safety. This means setting limits in those situations that put the integrity of the children at risk.
- We must bear in mind that the concept of 'behaving well' is very subjective. And there will be parents who may consider that having a good behavior is synonymous with 'not moving' but, is this natural for a young child?
- These limits must be flexible, always taking into account the situation and context. It must be common sense that prevails when proposing them.
- The limits should not focus on the mistakes of children, from their starting point, but are marked in a more positive way and always respecting the nature and emotions of children.
The Montessori method is more than just an educational method. It is a philosophy of life; a way of being in the world. This proposes a change of view in relation to childhood: we must be aware that the child has great potential to grow and develop being the protagonist of learning. It is about starting to trust the little one and restore his dignity so that he can follow his natural development plan. In addition, common sense should be the basis of the accompaniment of adults.
Beyond the limits, here are some other keys to the Montessori method for children to be happy.
- Make children feel useful
The Montessori method seeks that children take the lead in their learning. A child who has the possibility of contributing from a young age and feeling useful for all that he can contribute is a motivated child. This will make you feel confident and achieve everything you set your mind to. But, in addition, he will become an adult with initiative who will be able to make decisions.
- Make sure the child has good self-esteem
The family plays a very important role in encouraging and transmitting confidence to children. We cannot forget that when the child has high self-esteem, he begins to value the little things of the day to day.
- Convey a positive attitude towards life
We cannot control the circumstances that surround us parents and children, and sometimes they are not the most favorable. However, we can change our attitude to circumstances by trying to be more positive and transmitting it to children. This will largely determine our happiness and that of our children.
- Work the affective bond with our children
Even before children are born we can begin to work on the affective bond. During pregnancy, we can breathe consciously, we can sing or read stories to them ... All of this will help us to connect with the baby. Once it is born, we can do it through caresses, looks, daily experimentation, accompaniment ...
- Establish routines for children
Routines, as such, are not necessary for children to be happy, although they help. Establishing healthy habits for children to replicate for the rest of their lives is essential for their present and future happiness.
You can read more articles similar to The useful PERA technique to set limits for children according to Montessori, in the category Limits - Discipline on site.