Discipline plays an integral part in one's life, whether education or daily life. But Montessori has a very different approach towards discipline.
According to Maria Montessori, " Discipline must come through freedom". According to her, discipline should come from within. The children should be given the freedom to make their own choices and learn from their mistakes.
Tips for a Montessori approach to discipline:
Treating the child as an individual is one of the most important elements of a Montessori curriculum. The children should be able to talk to the parents and teachers without any fear.This gives them the confidence that they are valued. If you says no to children without any reason, they will ignore and disrespect you. The children imitate and imbibe what they see around them. If you shout and scream, they will learn to do the same. If you sit and listen patiently, the children will also be patient.
In a Montessori curriculum, the parents or the teachers follow the principle that discipline does not follow authority. It has to come from within. There is no rule book for good behaviour. The children are raised in such a way that they understand what is the correct thing to do. This boosts their confidence. They become more independent and responsible citizens.
Freedom within limits :
Giving freedom to children does not mean that they can do anything they want. The freedom is there but it is within limits. There are certain limits which children have to follow to keep them, their peers and their surroundings safe.
“The essence of independence is to be able to do something for one’s self. Adults work to finish a task, but the child works in order to grow, and is working to create the adult, the person that is to be.” When the children are given the freedom to work independently. This gives them inner joy, peace and satisfaction. Even if they make a mistake, they are given the freedom to correct the mistakes.
Teacher acts a guide:
A Montessori teacher does not play the role of a strict disciplinarian. She is present in the classroom but only as a guide. She does not dictate or give instructions to do a particular thing. The workstations are there in the classroom. The children choose what they want to do. If they get stuck somewhere, the teacher gives them options to rectify it. The children have to choose which option they think is correct.
No to rewards or punishments :
Montessori observed that neither reward nor punishment were effective motivators for the children. Instead she found that purposeful, meaningful activity provided intrinsic motivation for the children, in other words, the children became inspired!
Instead of bribing children to do something, one can find ways to work together.The aim is to teach children the importance of each task and not bribe them for every task. Let them make mistakes. Give them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
All children throw tantrums. It is our job to be patient and calm the child. If one gets angry, irritated or impatient, the child's emotions will be further triggered. Our goal here is to raise calm children. When they have a meltdown, we should listen to them patiently. At this point of time, it is impossible to give options to the child. Listen patiently and calm them down. This might take time but once they are calm, they will definitely listen to you. This will also help in making them patient citizens for the future.
However, it should be noted that it takes continuous effort to make children self disciplined. One should remember that children are capable, loving and unique individuals who can be taught everything with love, affection and patience.