Children are thought to have volatile emotions—and they do. But with the Montessori Method, children can learn self-regulation at a much faster pace. This is because, unlike traditional education, a child’s feelings and thoughts aren’t tossed away for standardized testing scores. Rather, Montessori stresses how important a child’s emotional wellness is for the development of their brain.
So, while Montessori schools work on teaching students self-regulation, you should also be working on this vital skill at home. Today, you will learn how.
What is Self-Regulation and Why Does It Matter?
First off, what does it mean to self-regulate? It is a term that defines one’s ability to:
- Make thoughtful and educated choices
- Set goals and work towards achieving them
- Identify and control emotions
- Delay gratification
- Independence and one’s ability to adapt to new situations without input
- Manage and cope with stress
Now, these things are often associated with children, though they are capable of self-regulation. This is why teaching self-regulation is so important because children need to know how to identify their feelings and work through them in a healthy way.
Why Is Self-Regulation Important?
Emotional intelligence and self-regulation are closely connected. When you are capable of understanding what it is you are feeling and how to handle those emotions, you can make better decisions. You can handle stress much better than someone who doesn’t self-regulate as well. Furthermore, when children are taught self-regulation skills, they do better in school and in life. One study even found that early lessons in self-regulation reduce the chance of drug abuse and divorce.
However, self-regulation isn’t just one point of development during childhood. It’s a lifelong journey. As children grow up, they observe and learn skills and strategies that work for them. But who do they observe?
They observe you—their adult role model.
How Does Grace & Courtesy Apply?
One thing that separates the Montessori classroom from public schools is the atmosphere. The orderly and bright classroom is filled with children who are polite, well-behaved, and confident. That is because they are learning all about Grace & Courtesy, or the art of good manners and treating others well.
Children in Montessori schools learn by watching their teachers and older students how to be considerate. They take turns with the materials. They share items. If someone needs help, other students go to their aid. Everyone is encouraging and mindful during interactions.
And that is important. Community—and a support group—are vital to teaching self-regulation. Without other children and role models, students don’t learn how to practice using an indoor voice, for example. Children respond in complete sentences, such as “Yes, please,” or “No, thank you.” When there is conflict, the students are allowed to discuss why they were angry or upset.
How to Teach a Child to Self-Regulate
But outside of the classroom, how can children learn to self-regulate at home? First off, you have to understand self-regulation. The initial part of it is mindfulness. Are you able to calm yourself down during stressful moments? Are your means of doing so healthy? And, most importantly, how do you react to stress in front of your kids?
Therefore, as a role model, you must show self-control. Expressing yourself in a calm manner. Not saying things impulsively. Breathing when stressed and thinking things through. If you can display these actions to your child, you are already off to an excellent start.
Self-Regulation Techniques For Home
In addition to being a wonderful role model, you can also incorporate the following techniques at home:
- Speak to your child on their level. If your child is feeling emotional or overwhelmed, get down on their level to speak with them. It’s respectful and compassionate; it promotes a feeling of safety.
- Be empathetic. Most people want to feel understood. By showing your children that you are listening and empathizing, they can begin to recognize their own emotions and regulate them accordingly.
- Give your child time. While dealing with emotions can be frustrating, it’s important to remember that honoring the emotions and taking time to work through them is important. Moreover, it’s healthy to take things slow and put them into perspective.
- Match their emotional tone. By matching your child’s tone and showing that you understand, they will, in turn, feel heard and validated.
- Use playtime wisely. Children need time to be imaginative and free to explore the possibilities of the world. Give your child at least 3 hours of play.
- Provide an orderly and peaceful household. When the home isn’t chaotic, children tend to be more at ease in their surroundings.
- Allow for concentration and repetition. As with everything, self-regulation takes time and requires practice. You must keep that in mind and demonstrate the same reactions, even when things are difficult so that your children adopt the same healthy responses and behaviors.
- Practice politeness. Learning how to respond kindly even when angered is a masterful skill. Children who understand polite conversation will have mastered an important soft skill that they can use later in life.
Self-regulation is a skill that helps people throughout life. Teaching children how to control their emotions and work through stress in a healthy way has untold benefits. Start early by enrolling your child in a Montessori school, and don’t forget to introduce some self-regulation techniques at home. By working on these skills both at school and home, your child will be healthier, happier, and more confident.