MONTESSORI TODDLER: THEY KNOW NOT TO…SO WHAT TO DO?

Have you ever found yourself redirecting your child away from the same action or item over and over? Thinking to yourself, as your child looks at you giggling while heading to that area again, “They KNOW they shouldn’t be climbing the shelves/tables and throwing the candles, why do they keep doing it?”

Well, I also KNOW that if I want to lose the last few pregnancy pounds I should limit my sweets intake, but that’s not happening anytime soon.

The thing is: impulse and impulse control! It takes time to develop and, even then, it’s not perfect. Reminders are needed. Just because they know, and may even be pushing boundaries (another completely normal behavior–the post on that) it’s our responsibility as the adult to remain calm and gently remind them, again and again and again. This remains true if they are 10 months, 2 years, or 11 years-old.

Hubby has a certain area in the house (a corner of the kitchen counter) that he asks to remain clear. It’s his little area to put his daily items–phone, keys, wallet, and the like. I know this, but do you know how many times he has to remind me? Way too many times, it’s rather embarrassing! Throughout the day, I’m busy and things happen. I find myself putting a book the girls have handed me in that area, as I’m standing right there, and then forget to move it. While I’m actually getting better at not placing things there, there are times I still need to be reminded.

The girls know not to climb their bookcase, but when there’s a squirrel that comes peeking up near there, do you think they remember? Goodness no–it’s a squirrel and it’s right there! So they need to be gently reminded that they can see the squirrel, probably even closer, from their Nugget couch, no need to climb something that may tip.

With regular reminders and redirecting to their Pikler, they are starting to catch themselves when climbing their weaning table. Sometimes just a gentle look from me is enough or the simple question: “Where do our feet belong?”

So what to do?

Lots of deep breathing and create more of a “yes area.” I had a few wooden weather station pieces hanging on the wall near E and V’s level because T would use them. I never removed them as they are gorgeous and I thought the girls would just become so accustomed to having them there that they wouldn’t pay them much mind until they too were using them every morning. Lately, that hasn’t been the case. These pieces are interesting, so I don’t blame them for wanting to play with them. I wouldn’t worry about them handling the wooden pieces, but there are potential choking hazards. I first offered them to help set the weather in the morning, hoping that by using it, as intended, would fill that desire to handle it. Since it wasn’t “off limits” it wouldn’t be so tempting. However, it didn’t cause them to play with it any less. Redirecting and alternatives just aren’t working. So for the time being I took the pieces down. There’s no temptation and no stress.

-Have them assist. This may be cleaning up after something has gone awry–if water is spilled we clean it up whether it was purposeful or now. If marks were made on the wall, we wash them off. If a book was ripped, we tape it together. In doing so remember, this isn’t a form of punishment, but rather part of the process or cause and effect. Having them assist in rearranging materials, helping to create an area that they enjoy. E and V have enjoyed helping create obstacle courses–carrying pillows larger than them, pushing furniture around, and trying out different arrangements until we have one that calls to them. While this doesn’t always guarantee other materials, that shouldn’t be climbed, won’t be less alluring, it often greatly helps.

As frustrating as it may be, try not to let it show. There’s been a few times I’ve excused myself to the restroom to recenter myself or try to direct them to mediation so that we can all calm and center ourselves–like a restart. Impulses and impulse control is something that is completely normally and is not likely going to be controlled anytime soon as it’s something we as adults still struggle with. But that doesn’t mean we don’t keep trying.

Do you find yourself redirecting form the same actions over and over again?

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