Sunday, September 17, 2017

Maria Montessori believed in the child’s natural desire to learn about the world around us. She was against rewards system and recommended encouragement verses praise. 

“No one who has ever done anything really great or successful has ever done it simply because he was attracted by what we call a “reward” or by fear of what we call a  “punishment”... Every victory and every advance in human progress comes from an inner compulsion.” M.Montessori

Why “Good job!” is not the best way to express yourself? The shortest answer would be: we need to explain to our children what exactly they did that excited us so much.
When I became a mom, this topic arose in my head. It’s pretty challenging not to say “Good job” all the time. Your little cute boy just reached that toy, he opened his first book, made his first step, drew a beautiful masterpiece….How can’t you not praise your special child all of the time? I started to study this subject again and found the newest research suggests to praise for a particular effort or detail you like in your child’s work. For example, you can say,”Johnny, I really like the bright colors you chose for your art!” As you can tell, it gives Johnny better feedback than a simple  “Good job!” Most Montessorians recommend avoiding too many words because they interrupt a child’s concentration and give them a wrong lesson to constantly search for adult’s praise. When your little baby is working very hard on reaching a new toy, and finally achieves that goal, give them a soft smile, but do not interrupt that process with your loud “Good job!”. They might want to do it again, and again, and again, until that movement has mastered.  By quietly observing him, you respect your child’s time and effort. You can simply say, “You did it!”

By observing my own children, I can strongly agree with Montessori philosophy. Your little child is learning new things every day, he is eager to make new discoveries, and reach his next milestone. There is no need to say, “Good boy” when he puts his plate away for the first time, because this is just a simple task every family member does in our house. We can definitely  thank him and say something positive about his active participation in keeping our kitchen clean. This will encourage him to do the same thing again.
Another example I remember from the time my daughter was about 10 months old. Vasilisa was quietly working on her baby puzzle and a hand coordination. She suddenly stopped because that big circle just went inside the right spot! I don’t remember exactly what I said, but my words completely distracted her and she crawled to another corner of her room trying another activity. That was the lesson my daughter unconsciously gave me: sometimes your child just needs quiet time and his mom to be silent and respectful. I think If I would have been quiet, she would probably wanted to master her new skill and try it again. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to praise your child. We do need to encourage our kids, lift them up, and help in their life journey. We simply need to be more specific in praising by emphasizing our children's effort! “You spent so much time working on your new Lego set! It’s not that easy to put those little pieces together, but you just mastered it!” You will be surprised how much more your child will like that compliment! 

Do you have your own tips to help be more specific in praising your child? We would like to hear them! Share them in the comments below.

“Everything you say to your child is absorbed, cataloged, and remembered.” M.Montessori

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