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Monday, December 23, 2013

Use Montessori method for developing your child's Will ( ability to choose)

As the child grows and nears 2 years or so, she/he becomes persistent and adamant in demanding something. Till that time, it is easier to divert his attention easily. But after a particular age, the child sticks to her claim and will not budge easily. This is an important phase of growing for a child.

As Montessorians like to say, this is a crucial period for the development of Will.  From 12 to 18 months old, your child understands you but cannot carry your instructions. From 18 to 36 months, child sometimes obeys, sometimes not. The way parents help the child in making his/her choices during this phase, can influence the child's own development of self discipline. After 3 years, the child learns self discipline provided you have managed these 18 months properly.

If the parents show too much 'willingness' to listen during this 18 months period, he is unable to subordinate other's will to his own. The child becomes more insistent and demanding trying to stamp his Will over every event. For this child, his choice is always right. On the other hand, if the parents use harsh strategies like beating or scolding loudly whenever she asks for something, the child is unable to develop her own Will ( choices) and always tends to listen to others. This child becomes over-compliant and waits for others direction.

 Here are five hints that can help you develop your Child's will during these 18 months ( in each of these five methods you are enabling the child to make a choice in different situations without dampening him):

1. Respect the child even when you are stopping the child from misbehaving: For instance, if you are restricting the child to rush on the road, do not catch her from behind. Instead, go around and stop her by facing her. If he is old enough to walk, then firmly hold his hand. Do not beat him or pick him. Be firm and redirect. And more importantly, if you are stopping your child from misbehaving, try to do it every time he or she does. The child is internalising your firmness. She takes time in understanding that 'never means never'. So repeat it until she gets it.

2. Substitute diversion of object with diversion of thought: Earlier, you could substitute a new object, and your child would forget about the old object. As she can remember her thoughts now, it is important to change this strategy. If your child is trying to 'pick' a nice glass that she might break, use thought to 'describe' a nearby object, say pen. Giving pen alone will not divert her. But opening the pen, and showing how it works on the paper, will interest her 'thinking'. So describe the pen to her in a language that she can understand. Try to select an alternate object that is truly interesting to her. But remember to not get into reasoning mode. The child under 3 is unable to understand the reasons. So do not use it. For instance, you cannot reason with the child that "if she takes the glass, the glass may break" and so on.

3. Give the child a clear either/or choice:  For instance, do not ask her 'if she would like to eat chapati'. Instead give her a clear choice. Ask her if she wants to eat chapati or bread ( or whatever she eats normally!). If you want her to use potty, do not ask her if she would like to go to potty. Instead ask her if she wants to 'use a bathroom in the ground floor or the upper floor'. Wherever possible, convert simple declarations into choices.

4. Do not expect immediate compliance:  At this age, the child's brain has half the neural speed of the adult. It is therefore necessary to repeat the words, choice or description, two to three times very patiently. Take care to ensure that there is no threat in your voice. If the child is not wearing the pant after going to the bathroom, you may say "Divya, you may wear the pants". With no response from her, after a minute, remind her again.

5. Follow a direct method to intervene sometimes : If the child still does not listen, then tell her to come near you and wear the pants. It is important not to wait until you get angry. If she senses a challenging note in your voice, the child's emotional response is triggered and overwhelms whatever 'willpower' she has managed to develop. So be insistent and firm in the behaviour which you want to redirect without using threatening tone or language. Please ensure that you 'repeat' it again and again. If you 'accept' her starting the TV late night, she will insist it again. She will not understand that you wanted to see TV that day. 

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