Today we conclude our series exploring how to interact with your child in a Montessori way by looking at a key to addressing negative behavior, Logical Consequences.
When there are behavioral problems, use logical consequences. Logical consequences should be respectful, relevant, and realistic.
- Stop the behavior
- Teach an alternative to the behavior
- Have the child state the rule
- As a parent, pull back the limits
- When child shows a working understanding of the rule, extend limits
When handling misbehavior, it is important to use a normal tone of voice and speak directly to the child. Focus on the behavior and not the child’s character. Be firm; this is not a time to negotiate. When deciding on the consequence, make sure the punishment fits the crime. The time frame needs to make sense to the child. A punishment that is either too long or too short is ineffective.
An example: Johnny is playing in his brother Grant’s room. Johnny has been told that he cannot play in his brother’s room without permission. Grant is at his friend’s house playing and Johnny sees Grant’s new airplane. Johnny says to himself, “I just want to touch it. I won’t break it.” He wanders into Grant’s room and is flying the plane around the room when the dog rushes in and jumps on Johnny. Johnny drops the plane, and it breaks. Johnny starts yelling at the dog and runs downstairs and tells his mom, “Spot broke Grant’s plane!” But did Spot break Grant’s plane? Mom investigates and finds that Johnny was not following the rules their family has in place and did indeed break Grant’s plane. An accident, but an avoidable one if Johnny had been following the house rules. When Grant arrives home, Mom sits Grant across from Johnny. Johnny admits his fault to his brother and apologizes. His brother is very upset. Mom then explains that Johnny will now earn the money to purchase Grant a new plan by doing a set amount of chores for the next two weeks. Johnny also promises not to go into Grant’s room again. Two weeks later, Mom takes Johnny and Grant to the store to purchase a new plan. Johnny pays for it himself and then hands the plane to Grant. This is a teachable moment for both Johnny and Grant. Johnny and Grant have both learned about accountability, consequences, and forgiveness.
Raising children is an awesome responsibility. No one will every say it is without challenges. But the rewards are amazing!
If you would like more help in parenting your child, we recommend the book Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children.
To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom. – Dr. Maria Montessori