We always focus on giving as much love as we can to our children, but they also want to be respected. What I believe is that when we respect our children, automatically they start giving respect to us as well as to others. We don’t need to explicitly teach our children respect. Instead, we should become the role models for them to observe and learn from.

When children are treated respectfully and when their needs are met, they will know how to respect and will find no need to be disrespectful towards anyone.

“Every detail of a child’s life has rules, mysterious laws. Every detail is of importance, so we must respect everything, even if it does not seem logical to us. We do not know the consequences; we are not the judges, but the servants of nature.” – Maria Montessori, The 1946 London Lectures

How do children become confident? The only answer for this question is to be confident about children. If you are confident enough that your child will develop and will eventually be able to do their own work by themselves, they will do their work confidently and will easily accept their mistakes and try again to succeed.

To cite one example, I was feeding my child with lentils and rice one day. Suddenly, he put his hand in the food and started exploring. He mashed up the food and applied it all over his face. I allowed him to do so because I believed that it was necessary for him to experience the food with his senses, and he needed to learn to coordinate between his hands and his mouth to be able to eat independently in the future.

“It is through exercise that the child grows; his constructive activity is a real work which flows materially from his outer environment. The child in his experiences exercises himself and moves; he thus learns to co-ordinate his movements and absorbs from the outer world the emotions that give concreteness to his intelligence.” – Maria Montessori, The Secret of Childhood

Then every time I fed him, he observed me and one day he insisted that I give him the spoon. I gave him and he started eating by himself. I was really happy! While eating, he obviously spilled food and picked up food from down, but I did not interfere. And, once he knew how to eat by himself, he wouldn’t always eat by himself. Sometimes, he would get tired, and he would leave the spoon but would not say anything. I would get the cue and feed him the rest. Sometimes he would leave the spoon and would say “I am done!”. Those times, I would let him stop and ask him to wash his hands and mouth. Once children say that they are done, we must not try to feed them anymore. If we do that, we are not only disrespecting them, but we are also giving them the message that they do not know their own hunger. This leads to them feeling less confident about themselves.

“We must take man himself, take him with patience and confidence, across all the planes of education. We must put everything before him, the school, culture, religion, the world itself. We must help him to develop within himself that which will make him capable of understanding. It is not merely words, it is a labour of education.” – Maria Montessori, Citizen of the World

Vidya is a Montessori Guide at Eager Kids Montessori. While she strongly believes in freedom and choice, she can also be firm with them when she needs them to follow the rules to ensure freedom within limits.