What’s the harm of helping when you see your little one struggle? The Montessori method gives a clear view of how struggling children find new confidence in completed tasks. Don’t rob them of that encouragement!
Don’t Rob Them
“Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed.”
We have been using the Montessori method in our home for the last 4 years. I have to admit that throwing away the baby gate, getting rid of the crib, and watching my son explore all areas of our house uninhibited was a bit nerve racking. But then I learned I also need to watch him struggle. He was a baby! Barely a year old, he was very vocal when he was frustrated and cried out for my help. But turning away from helping him has been the best thing I have done to enhance his confidence in himself.
About 2 years ago, I started visiting Montessori schools for Samuel as he approached his 3rd birthday. I found a school that was wonderful and small. I talked a good bit with the head mistress there and loved her. We ended up moving (of course) so Samuel never got the chance to attend. But the head mistress made a lasting impression. She told me, “Don’t rob them”.
By this time I had seen my children struggle and bit my lip while they broke dishes, cried out for help with the button on their pants, and turned in circles as they tried to get their jackets on. Setting up practical life work is a great way to boost a child’s confidence. I never thought helping them that last little bit as they struggle to complete a task would hurt, but it does.
Helping a child that has the physical ability and knowledge to complete a task is like robbing them of a key moment in their life. When children complete a task to the fullest they create:
- The intrinsic motivation to KNOW they can do it themselves.
- Muscle memory to complete a task. Like that last little moment to readjust a backpack so it will fit on their shoulders.
- The ability to take care of their own mess. Later in life, it will be second nature for them to clean up spilled milk or do their own laundry.
No doubt it is hard to watch a child struggle, but what are you robbing them of when you help? Don’t rob them of the experience of learning something new.
Montessori from the Start is a great starting point for learning more about using Montessori in your home.