It is so natural to love our child and to want the best for them, all the time. But sometimes our judgement of what is best for the child may not produce the results we want.
Such dissonance is especially the case when we need to let our child experience failure. That is not to say we want our children to fail or should stand by idly and watch them suffer! However, failure is an important part of life’s experience and is an essential part of how children learn invaluable coping skills and stress management.
One of the key Montessori principles is to prepare the child for the real world. And, in the real world, we have to be able to navigate and learn from our failings. If children are not exposed to challenging situations, they are missing out on developing a critical skill at a young age. Without these skills, running away and avoiding failure or challenges too often becomes the fallback response.
With encouragement and modeling from others, instead of avoiding failure, children can benefit from learning how to cope in times of stress. Thus, instead of trying to intercept and solve every problem for our children, we need to put them in the driver’s seat and to give them the tools they need to problem solve and to cope with difficult situations. When children complain thing are difficult, adults need to become their cheerleaders and their safety net as opposed to assuming control. Ultimately, it may be better to endure a few tears and tantrums today to avoid your child facing a lifetime of poor coping skills!
One of the unique features of the Montessori approach is that it provides a self-correcting environment with the focus on children learning without judgment and without fear of doing something wrong. So failure in a Montessori class does not yield a poor grade or homework but an opportunity to show the child how to persevere and accomplish their goal. It delights Montessori teachers to no end once children experience their “aha!” moments. It allows for the focus to be on accomplishments without the stigma of how long it took or how many tries. They got there in the end!