The Montessori method is based upon the belief that children have an innate sense of dignity that guides their behaviors. If you watch a group of young children at play, you quickly notice that they prefer to see their friends happy and comfortable. Yet, their developing social skills also mean that they still need assistance developing the ability to exhibit grace and courtesy in any situation. These Montessori principles help you to teach good manners to your child that allow them to grow up with a respectful attitude that stands out to others.
Choose Lessons Based Upon Needs
At your child’s Montessori school, lessons are tailored to fit each child’s individual needs. As your child’s parent, you know them better than anyone else. Observe your child as they interact socially for a few days, and note behaviors that need refinement. For instance, toddlers often wipe their noses on their sleeves, and you could use this opportunity to demonstrate the appropriate use of a tissue. Alternatively, your child may not know how to respond to an adult who asks their name. Tailoring your lessons to fit your child’s needs nurtures their development.
Use Good Manners at Every Opportunity
You are your child’s first and most important teacher. Whether your child is watching you interact with a serve in a restaurant or while you are on the phone, they are always noticing how you handle every day life situations. Make sure to practice basic good manners during these moments. A simple “please” or “thank you” during your interactions goes a long way toward showing your child the value of practicing kindness.
Demonstrate Appropriate Behavior
In Montessori school, lessons are provided using age-appropriate steps that breakdown the information into sizeable chunks that children understand. When you plan lessons on manners, keep your child’s age and level of development in mind. For instance, toddlers do best with short lessons that involve exaggerated motions such as you sneezing into a tissue before throwing it away. For older children, you can incorporate humor into the lesson to make it more memorable such as by showing them what not to do at first.
Give Children Opportunities to Practice
Hands-on experiences are one of the most effective Montessori techniques for reinforcing lessons. Start by role playing situations at home with your child such as pretending that you are in a restaurant and the server asks for their order. Once your child seems comfortable with the skill, take them out to a public place for dinner so that they can test out their abilities.
Anticipate Potential Challenges
As you plan real life experiences for your child, be sure to also think about potential challenges that your child could face. For example, the restaurant could be crowded and your child may have to wait to eat. In this instance, they may need guidance to retain their patience. Planning for possible challenges allows you to be ready to support their efforts at practicing grace and courtesy.
Provide Specific Praise for Good Manners
Praise is a powerful tool that reinforces proper behavior and elevates your child’s self-esteem. Yet, learning to provide specific praise increases its effectiveness. When you notice your child practicing courtesy such as holding open the door for an older adult, make sure to let them know that it was noticed. For instance, instead of saying “good job,” say something along the lines of, “I saw you hold the door open for Mrs. Smith. That was thoughtful and kind.” This type of praise helps your child see clearly why their behavior attracted positive attention.
As you work on teaching your child good manners, remember that repetition is important at this age. Be sure to continue to plan lessons and opportunities that foster their growth, and you can look forward to watching as your child develops grace and kindness as they mature.