Maria Montessori studied children over 100 years ago, and the depth of her observations about childhood are sometimes astounding to read.
Every Monday we try to parse out the rather simple concepts that form the core of the Montessori pedagogy and lifestyle. For example, last Monday Bettina Tioseco explained “Control of Error” and before that we touched on the Sensorial area of the Montessori classroom.
Today, let’s look at the 3 Levels of Obedience. Have you heard of them? They might help you understand your child’s responses to your requests to “put the shoes away” or “sit down for dinner.”
First Level of Obedience
“So what we call the first level of obedience is that in which the child can obey, but not always. It is a period in which obedience and disobedience seem to be combined!” Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
Toddlers are trying to make sense of the world and to find their own sense of self within it. They are driven by their internal urges, and if that doesn’t coincide with what an adult wants them to do, it’s likely they won’t follow directions.
For toddlers, gentle reminders are helpful if your toddler forgets. “I see your shoes aren’t in the bin. Do you remember where they go?” or “Let’s try to make the bed again tomorrow.”
Second Level of Obedience
“The second level is when the child can always obey, or rather, when there are no longer any obstacles deriving from his lack of control. His powers are now consolidated and can be directed not only by his own will, but by the will of another.” Montessori, The Absorbent Mind
A child now has the POWER to follow directions through self-discipline and impulse control. At the second stage, children will follow direction to satisfy someone else’s wishes, whereas previously they could only satisfy their own.
Third Level of Obedience
At the third level, a child “responds promptly and with enthusiasm and as he perfects himself in the exercise, he finds happiness in being able to obey.” Montessori, The Discovery of the Child
Imagine a much-loved teacher or parent asking a child to do something, and the child joyfully obeying? This is the third level of obedience. They have the willpower over themselves to understand a task that has been set before them, and are pleased by this control.
Have you observed these levels of obedience in your own children? Let us know in Chat!
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