What is Montessori-style parenting? Does it make life with toddlers easier?
Parenting toddlers is joyful and fulfilling, but it’s also exhausting! Monti Kids team member, Montessori educator, and mom of three, Stacy, shared five useful tips on positive parenting techniques to eliminate some of the challenges of raising a toddler.
Montessori Parenting, Room-by-Room
A simple summary of the Montessori philosophy is that a child's environment should be designed to support their growing independence. This means that we should put their belongings within their reach so that they can put them away by themselves, for example.
Even a crawling baby can choose a toy from a shelf if the shelf is on the floor.
That's what's meant when you hear the term "a prepared environment." It means thinking through what your child needs, and making it possible for them to use it.
Instead of feeling like everything needs an overhaul, I like to think of making tweaks here and there that will help reduce friction in our everyday routines.
In this post, we'll go room-by-room with simple ways to adjust your home environment to diminish toddler tantrums and empower your little one to be more independent. This is the foundation of Montessori parenting. Our little ones can impress and surprise us when given the right environment.
1. The Entryway Makeover
Getting out of the house is an age-old battleground for parents. Redesigning this space with the goal of flipping the script and making leaving home an exercise in independence can be done with the simple addition of a few hooks and baskets. Once your little one is a confident walker, collaborate with them to put on and remove their coat, and demonstrate how to hang it on the hook.
TIP: If a jacket doesn’t have a loop, you can add one using a piece of yarn or a book ring through the tag. Offer help taking off shoes (a small bench or stool can help) and hat and show them which basket to put their belongings in.
Offer your child a job and a chance to feel empowered. They can help carry something; they can push the door all the way closed; or they can fix something for you, such as a branch or leaf on your path.
Putting in the time and patience now to include them in these processes will save you a lot of time and frustration later! Your child will become independent from a young age - building confidence and reducing tantrums on the way out the door.
Not at this stage yet? Read our tips on setting up a useable playspace for baby.
2. The Montessori Toddler Bathroom
When your little one is ready to begin Toilet Learning, set aside a small corner of the bathroom that’s just for him. Start with a low shelf that has a small selection of dry underpants, diapers (for sleeping), wipes, and even a few books (for longer visits). This will encourage your child to gradually learn to accomplish the activity independently. You may want to add a small rug for sitting on, rather than the cool tile floor when they need to change their clothes.
Offering a space of one's own gives a child a sense of ownership and pride in the process. When they have easy access to all the supplies needed, they will quickly learn to use them correctly.
In our Montessori Toilet Learning Kit, we've included a set of Routine Cards that will also support a child's learning as they begin to understand the steps toward self care.Related: See more
3. The Family Room
Give your little one a small area in your family’s main space that will allow her to play and explore while in the presence of her favorite person - you! A small shelf with 6-8 toys, several baskets of objects like utensils or wooden farm animals, a basket of books, and a small table and chair will suffice. Anything more might be overstimulating. Rotate the toys and books regularly to keep her interested and make it easy for her (and you) to maintain!Related: Where to buy a
4. The Kitchen
Find a space in the kitchen for your little one to access their own dishes and silverware. Once they are a confident walker, they will be able to retrieve a cup when they are thirsty or a plate when they are hungry. This will evolve into setting the table. They might even begin to help empty the dishwasher eventually! This space can be as simple as a lower drawer or cabinet with a few cups, plates, and pieces of silverware. You can also try reserving a lower shelf in the refrigerator or in cabinets for snacks (make sure you approve of everything in there). Access to these mealtime supplies will make this process more peaceful by giving him a sense of independence and control. Pictured above is a simple sticker to demonstrate where the glasses go.
5. The BedroomAt this age, it is most important to establish the bedroom as a place for sleeping. To encourage sleep, keep limited toys in the bedroom - those that are cozy and quiet like stuffed animals and an assortment of books. Watch for times that your little one is distracted by a stimulating toy and remove it from the bedroom (you can even add it to a shelf in the living room). Providing an environment that promotes sleep will allow your child to get the rest they need, and in turn will give you a happier and more cooperative little person in your family! The bedroom will also be the place for getting dressed. Between 12 and 15 months, you can begin to offer a few choices of clothing in the lowest dresser drawer (with the bulk of their clothes stored out of reach). Replenish these as needed and allow your child to choose what they would like to wear from this drawer each day. They will be empowered by this choice and excited to take part in dressing for the day if they knows they have a say in the matter. When they are done getting dressed (with your help in the beginning), they can put her dirty clothes into their very own hamper.
Further Reading: The Montessori Toddler: A Parent's Guide to Raising a Curious and Responsible Human Being offers loads of advice for planning your space and planning your days with the Montessori approach to parenting as a foundation. Author Simone Davies is practical and honest about the parenting frustrations that typically arise during this phase of childhood.
Monti Kids Self-Care Station (Mirror)was created to support a toddler’s growing independence so that they can care for themselves in a space that’s uniquely theirs. $100
- Mirror with shelf made of Baltic birch wood
- Child-safe 1.5mm acrylic mirror
- Three beech wood pegs allow children to hang clothes
- Includes wall mounting hardware and instructions
- No assembly required
ABOUT MONTI KIDS: Learn more about how we enable Montessori learning at home with a subscription program that helps you provide the right materials and environment at the right stage for your baby or toddler.