Discipline vs Spontaneous Discipline
Discipline provides a child with guiding rules for appropriate action and behavior at any given moment. Discipline is important in life as it enables one to develop positive action and focus to do their task or jobs effectively and efficiently. The Montessori approach to discipline helps children to adopt the spontaneous learning process. However, discipline is taught to children with negative connotations.
With ‘respect for the child’ as one of its tenets, Discipline in Montessori is something that comes from within. The Montessori approach guides the children to build an independent thought process that emulates their self-confidence later.
With the Montessori approach to discipline, Children learn to follow instructions not because it is expected of them or told but because it is the right thing to do. Root for discipline often comes from the power struggle where the parents or the teachers train their children with a set of instructions. With the Montessori approach to discipline, it is observed that the Montessori method of spontaneous learning is rumored to be left at child’s discretion.
But to prove the above point meaningless, Montessori approach has shown how children can be directed ideally and actively without any excessive pressure. Montessori approach has encouraged children to be self-motivated and proactively decide their own action and course of interaction with others.
However, the need for discipline is felt by parents and primary caregivers when they are engaged in power struggles with the little humans in their life. Soon you will realize that such power struggles are time-consuming and fruitless. If anything, it only aids the repetition of the behavior. On the contrary, spontaneous learning debunks the concept of discipline aligned with punishment. Montessori discipline forms the ideal behavior before the children and pressurizes the importance of natural feedback.
An example of Montessori approach to discipline can be explained lucidly; a child who does not know how to organize the books in the book case can be trained with proper instruction. They should be allowed to put the books in the wrong order initially. There should not be any hard and fast rule on how to organize it properly and neatly. Rather, the root for discipline through the Montessori approach can be administered in the child’s mind gradually.
How then do you bring out the spontaneous discipline in your child and avoid power Struggles?
To do this focus on the ‘Genuine Encounter Moments’ (GEMs) where you notice and acknowledge the child’s attempts and achievements. This spontaneous learning makes the child feel valued and respected. With repetition of Montessori discipline, you build GEMS in your child’s mind that only good behavior gets attention. Similarly, if you find your children rebuking and being grumpy to others, you can use the if/then statement. The Montessori approach emphasizes the if/then statement. If you share your food with your friends, they will adore you. This is how the Montessori approach to discipline the child’s behavior can be achieved.
How to acknowledge and build GEMS?
One of the sacrosanct approaches, known as Montessori approach, asks to ‘Narrate what the child is doing. Keep your tone and words positive and focus on the positive. When you say these sentences, intonate as you say those words. A little drama goes a long way here.
You were REALLY focused when trying to catch the ball.
You held the cup firmly with TWO HANDS
THAT was an excellent try at stacking
Thank you for setting the table. It looks beautiful!
The plants look SO HAPPY after you watered them.
The windows look SHINNY after you washed them.
You seem to be getting STRONGER every time you push the ball
The pattern YOU created while sorting is amazing.
You seem to be DETERMINED to figure this out
Do understand that patience is key here. Allow the inner discipline to emerge. This takes some time, scaffolding, and coaching with Montessori discipline. Especially when it comes to things like ‘Pack after Play’.
Show how to do it – Gently and Slowly.
Show more than once, if necessary,
Do it with them and not for them, ensure they are involved.
Taper off your support gradually as they gain mastery and can do it independently that is the prime key of unlocking the door of Montessori approach to discipline. However, don’t be in a rush to hand over responsibility completely. Children can sense when you are trying to scoot off.
Ask questions like,
“Do you want to have a go?
“Do you think you can do it now?
“Would you like to do this part and I will do the other?
“Should we arrange these chairs back so no one gets hurt?
“Let’s put this away so we have space to do another job?”
Words like these, an important part of Montessori approach, speak directly to the individuality of the child, give them control over their choice, and build the capability to make decisions for themselves.
These are small but important details that help spontaneous learning to emerge.