The Development of Inner Discipline
“What kind of discipline is used in a Montessori classroom to make the children do their work?” This is a common question that parents and other educators have when investigating Montessori pedagogy. First it is important to understand that Montessori’s end goal with regards to discipline is that the children are self disciplined – that they follow an inner commander and regulate their own conduct. This development takes time and only comes about through careful preparations and guidance from the adults around the children.
Children need boundaries and guidelines about appropriate behaviour. Remember that they are in the process of creating themselves in accordance to what they are receiving from the world around them. To understand their world there must be order and rules. The most important tool for any adult working with a child is to ensure that the boundaries you make for your child are consistent and you are able to uphold them. All rules, if broken, should have natural consequences that are directly related to the rule.
We encourage the use of natural consequences rather than rewards and punishments. Montessori opposes these outside initiatives as they directly work against a child’s inner discipline and do much more harm than good.
If you are working on your home boundaries please feel free to discuss them with us if you need guidance.
Three great books regarding parenting and discipline in particular:
Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason – by Alphie Kohn
Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children – by Dr. Thomas Gordon
How to Raise an Amazing Child the Montessori Way – by Tim Seldin (in my opinion the best book for parents re: Montessori at home)
“Let us always remember that inner discipline is something to come, and not something already present. Our task is to show the way to discipline” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind).