Great Expectations

19 Mar

Nowadays, we treat children in a way we normally reserve for guests and quadriplegics.    We make their beds, cook their food, set their spot at the table, clean up their toys, spoon-feed them, wipe their bottoms, scrub their necks, and put on their shoes!!!  The reason parents do this is because they love their children and want to give them all the comforts of life.  But what message are we really sending?  How do the children interpret our actions?

Wow, mom thinks I’m not capable of pulling some bedsheets, fixing myself a sandwich, carrying a plate and fork, cleaning up my toys, bringing a fork to my mouth, wiping my bottom, scrubbing my neck, and sticking my feet into shoes.  If mom, who is all-knowing and perfect (you KNOW they see you this way), thinks I can’t do these things, then she MUST be right!

Years later, we’re frustrated because our children are “lazy” and “unmotivated”.  Funny, they weren’t born that way!

Take a few minutes to read this most charming post about a five-year old girl whose home environment mirrors her Montessori school environment.  While you’re reading, consider that this is a normal child with busy modern parents.  It’s not too late to raise the bar for your children!!!  Not only will they become more responsible, involved, and self-reliant, but you’ll have enough free time to go get a mani/pedi (or at least another cup of coffee).  Enjoy!

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8 Responses to “Great Expectations”

  1. Brandy March 19, 2010 at 5:30 am #

    I have read the post and wished that my daughter will be like her when she grew up. I’m so excited to teach my daughter how to clean fix her bed and clean our house though I still wait for few years since she’s only 6 months old.

    • montessorimatters March 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm #

      Brandy – That’s too cute! I’m sure that in due course she’ll be joyfully helping around the house!!

  2. Marcy March 19, 2010 at 7:48 pm #

    YES!!! I will admit I struggle with this a lot. I WANT to give him opportunities for independence, but sometimes it’s really hard to step back and spend that extra time and effort doing so. BUT I am working on it. My kid is no Eden, but at 2yrs he’s starting to help more at home (we let him help empty the dishwasher sometimes, and he’ll help put clothes away… and he just figured out how to put his Crocs on by himself! Like, seriously, he just did it and showed me! I was stunned!).

    It may be hard to muster the energy sometimes, but gosh darn it, it’s so cool when I realize he CAN do something I’d thought was beyond his abilities. =)

    • Montessoribeginnings March 20, 2010 at 3:10 am #

      I think I have the opposite problem from Marcy. My daughter is almost 2 1/2 and maybe I expect too much from her. She is capable of so much (getting dressed and picking out her own clothes, own shoes on, setting table, clearing table, loading dishwasher etc. etc.) The problem I have is she is not consistent with this. Some days she will happily get undressed put her dirty laundry in the basket get her own outfit and put it on all by herself. Other days she won’t do anything and will not co-operate no matter what approach I take.
      We also have all been taking off our shoes and coats and hanging them in the closet for four months and she still fights putting her shoes away. Some days no problem others it’s like pulling teeth.
      Is this normal for a two year old to go so back and forth even though we have routines and she is so capable of doing it all for herself?

      • montessorimatters March 20, 2010 at 4:45 am #

        I had a 2.5 yr old student – the “perfect” Montessori child from the start – who one day showed up to school in her pajamas. I got notes from her amazing parents letting me know that they had tried EVERYTHING to get her to wear clothes to school, but that one day she had decided that she was going to wear pajamas and that was all there was to it. I told them to let it be, they followed my advice, and about two weeks later she started showing up in school clothes again. The phase had passed. She had gained control, and it had stopped being interesting.

        I have 2.5 year old students who will categorically REFUSE to put on their inside shoes, not matter what I tell them. Then, one day, when I’ve given up hope and start ignoring the issue, they start changing their shoes. Just like that.

        It’s always the 2.5 year olds who are the most stubborn: one little girl spilled toothpicks and would refuse to pick them up unless I picked up one for every one she picked up. Some days she would also stand in the doorway and pout for the entire 6 hours of school. A year later, she’s one of my brightest and most helpful students. 🙂

        What I’m trying to get at is that sometimes it might be a matter of them trying to figure out how much control they have over the situation. They might be thinking: If I don’t do it, and it gets mommy all bent up in knots, then I know it’s something that is important and that I can control. Choices always help (do you want to wash your hands in the bathroom sink or the kitchen sink), and the way I see it (after dealing with 24 kids every day), if it’s something that will be hugely transcendent in the long run – and very few things really are – then fight the battle. If not, then pick your fights.

        Then again, I don’t have children yet… 🙂

      • Brandi March 20, 2010 at 11:22 am #

        I hope it’s normal for a two year old to go back and forth on what they are willing to do, because mine certainly does! lol. There are a few things that she generally refuses to do even though I really try to keep it a routine. Hanging up her coat and taking off her shoes are both hit or miss. One thing I’ve noticed is that when I take to my mom’s for babysitting, she hangs up her coat and lines up her shoes each and every time! So while she might not do it perfectly at home, she understands the importance and emulates it while out in the world, which is what we are preparing them for 🙂

      • montessorimatters March 20, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

        You can’t ask for more, right Brandi? 🙂 And hey, we don’t always feel like doing everything the way it should be done… I think kids are the same way. 🙂

  3. Marcy March 20, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    This whole discussion is reminding me a lot of the chapters on the Three Levels of Obedience. I haven’t read them in a while, but if I remember correctly the second level is where the child will obey willingly some of the time, and completely refuse other times. To us, that looks like they are being stubborn because “we know they CAN do it.” But it’s a part of development, in that sometimes they really can’t do what they mastered yesterday (just as some days we’re much better at handling a certain task and then the next day, for whatever reason, we have much more trouble).

    Not sure I explained that correctly, but hopefully that helps to keep in mind as we deal with our “defiant” toddlers. ; ) (mine’s about to hit that 2.5 yr phase, so we’ll see what I say about it in a few months! lol)

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