Patience and Montessori

I haven’t published a story in awhile, and by awhile it’s been since July. If you have children, which is highly likely if you are reading this, you’ll know why. Toddlers have energetic bodies and minds that don’t leave a lot of time for blog writing. My 20 month old son can run all day, play all day, but sitting down and doing a quiet activity isn’t an option. Keeping him engaged means there is zero time for picture taking, let alone blog writing!

Instead of fighting this stage of development, I’ve decided to meet him where is is. This means we are outside all day, going to parks, on hikes, in the backyard, and neighborhood walks. Time inside is spent reading, playing with trucks, eating and sleeping. I feel like I spend most of my time redirecting his behavior if we are inside, as he is constantly climbing on tables or the dog, throwing books and/or toys. It takes a lot of patience to work through this with him. I told a friend recently that toddlers require more patience than a patient person has.

I have a lot of patience. Before becoming a mom, I taught high school and wrote a dissertation. They were both difficult jobs that tested my patience, but nothing compares with being a parent. Part of having patience means knowing what types of activities our little ones are interested in, rather than fighting against their desires. For my son, if we are running, playing, jumping, or exploring outside he is thrilled. Finding inside activities that engage his mind is more of a challenge. Yet by observing him, I have found some things that he likes to do. He loves to help cook and do specific chores (while he hates other chores).

Things that are working for us:

  • Outside play
  • Cooking (cutting bananas, peeling bananas, cracking eggs, sprinkling salt and pepper, stirring pans, pouring water)
  • Cleaning activities (sweeping up, putting laundry in the washer, taking down laundry from the line, putting clothes in the hamper, wiping up spills)
  • Reading books (all books, truck books, board books with lots of objects, animal books)
  • Playing with cars and trains

Things that are not working for us:

  • Toilet training (doesn’t mind being wet in cloth diapers, hates changes, scared of potty)
  • changing clothes
  • Throwing and biting

“Our care of the child should be governed, not by the desire to make him learn things, but by the endeavor always to keep burning within him that light which is called intelligence.”
― Maria Montessori

It can be hard not to focus on the final product that you want a child to learn. In order to learn how to pour from a pitcher to a glass, there will be many spills cleaned up before it is done perfectly. It is easy to feel tired with the process as a mother, as you are constantly with your child, redirecting, teaching, and observing. I have found that it is easier if I focus on tasks that my son is engaged in and interested in, rather than those he dislikes. I still have to change his clothes, but I have found ways to make it easier for him. If we do it before we go outside, he sees it as a step to outside and is happy to change. If I give him two shirt options, one with animals he likes, then he is more likely to appreciate taking his dirty shirt off. The process of learning can be longer than my patience. This is when as a parent, I need to step back and realize that the process is important for him. It is much easier to hold our child’s hand to understanding than to pick up screaming to take him there.

“Our work is not to teach, but to help the absorbent mind in its work of development. How marvelous it would be if by our help, if by an intelligent treatment of the child, if by understanding the needs of his physical life and by feeding his intellect, we could prolong the period of functioning of the absorbent mind!”
― Maria Montessori

So if you are wondering where my crafty ideas have been, I have been busy cultivating patience and learning how to parent my son. Thankfully nature does most of the work for me when we’re outside.

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