Sensitive Mothering

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The process of attaining discipline and obedience in a child is very challenging, but also very rewarding once it is achieved. I am going to explain the relationship between discipline and obedience from Montessori perspective and also explain how they are linked to the development of the will.

When we think of the children and discipline, what often comes to mind is training children in a controlled way, drilling instructions and instilling fear of punishment for a child to obey, and sometimes also giving rewards once the instructions are followed. We also tend to bribe the child, plead with him/her to carry out an exercise.

Montessori had different views regarding discipline and obedience that were all in favor of the child and benefiting to him/her in different stages of development. She believed that discipline is active and emerges from within a child through purposeful work with hands in a favorable environment. She believed that discipline in itself is a self will, master of one self and it has to come from deep within the child and it should not be externally imposed upon a child. (Montessori, 2007b)The Montessori discipline is active and ongoing, it never stops, and it is always in action and developing. Montessori described obedience as a sublimation of the individuals own will to replace with others.(Montessori 2007a p.g 234) The child obeys by choice, not by force.

In Montessori’s perspective self discipline is born in a child when he/she concentrates on something that attracts his/her attention and provides him/her with useful exercise and also control of error. (Montessori,2007a pg 240) She provided the children with useful auto educative materials in a favorable and prepared environment, materials that were all benefiting to the children.

In a favorable and conducive environment, where a child has all the positive choices and freedom within limits, with the directress setting his/her ground rules, self discipline and obedience automatically emerge in a child, giving him/her no reason to be stubborn or willful in a negative way. The child obeys and follows what he/she has been told at this stage as the positive environment helps him become independent, and this helps him/her to satisfy his/her inner drive, the “Horme” (Montessori, 2007a pg76) hence helping him/her to develop himself/herself in a positive way.

It is important for the child’s sensitive periods to be met for discipline and obedience to emerge. Periods like sensitivity to movement, where his/her ability to walk facilitates movement and exploration of the environment and the materials provided in it. The child improves his/her motor skills which help him get over his/her clumsiness and gains independence. Sensitivity to order is also very important as it disciplines the child through consistency and predictability, as it enables him/her to differentiate when to play when to learn and when to tidy up, as in return the materials in their respective place after using them. When the child’s sensitivity to social aspects of life is met, his/her social skills develop and good manners are promoted, teaching the child appropriate behaviors, culture, social awareness, social graces like hygiene and courtesy all lead to development of self discipline and obedience .

A spiritually prepared directress plays a major role in a child’s discipline, obedience and emergence of the will. The directress prepares a positive favorable environment for the child,

giving the child freedom within limits with ground rules. Montessori believed, “Discipline in freedom seemed to solve a problem which had hitherto seemed insoluble. The answer lay in obtaining discipline by giving freedom.”(Montessori, a 2007 pg 184)

By giving a child freedom , Montessori believed it would aide in allowing the child to express himself/herself freely but also developing consideration towards others. The child was given freedom...
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