Obedience and self-discipline are two different methods of teaching children how to behave. Children who practice obedience follow instructions for a reward and might receive punishment when they do not listen. Contrarily, a child who practices self-discipline will perform good behavior without observation or direction. In Montessori philosophy, one of the key planes of development for children is the ability to self-discipline themselves. While we teach our students this practice at school, encouraging self-discipline at home is best for each child’s development. Integrating these practices into your regular routine will benefit your child greatly, and might be easier than you think!

Speak positively 

Words of encouragement are a great behavioral enforcement tool. Speak from a place of sincerity to your child, as empty praise can do more harm than good. Try thanking them for helping around the house instead of ordering them to do so. If your child is behaving in a way you do not approve of, redirect them to another behavior by speaking calmly. When your child picks up on the positive language, they will be more likely to behave in a positive manner. 

Let them learn

Allow your child to figure out their own mistakes and experience natural consequences. If your child picks up their toys but sets them in the wrong place, they will eventually learn where each toy should go when they have trouble finding it. This acknowledges the Montessori principle of independence. Punishment has less value than lessons learned independently. When children are independent enough on their own to complete tasks, they grow into self-disciplined individuals. 

Stay consistent

Keep consistent routines and lessons for your child. Going to sleep, eating meals and having play time regularly helps children learn how to maintain their schedule. Setting these expectations creates a better environment for learning. Soon enough, discipline will fall in line with their routine. It may sound cliché, but consistency truly is key! Be patient with your child, and before you know it, they will be self-disciplined. 

At MMS, we emphasize the four pillars of Montessori education. Self-discipline is a lesson that will carry throughout a lifetime. The earlier children learn how to discipline themselves, the better it is for them and their community. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us.