How can one help a 3-year-old develop emotional strength in a Montessori environment while establishing a work cycle?

A child’s emotional strength begins developing long before the age of 3. At any age, to become emotionally strong, a child must be in an emotionally safe, trusting environment, an environment which is supportive, and encouraging. By introducing a child to the many activities available to a 3 year-old, we must exude confidence that the child is able to do the activity or at least some of the activity. We must NEVER criticise a child’s efforts or work. Some of the Montessori materials are designed in such a way that mistakes made are self-correcting but in all materials, mistakes are simply viewed as part of a learning cycle. If a child is not developmentally ready for a particular material, they will usually simply put the work away.

Insecure children may need to work near an adult, or with an adult until they gradually become more secure in the environment and themselves.

We cannot “make up” for missed developmental milestones but we can offer a different paradigm—one in which a child can build self-confidence and self-reliance within a supportive community. Trusting that such an environment will support the child in their emotional development allows us to move as slowly as needed, offering as much support as a child needs and accepting that with some children it may take a bit of time to reach a level of emotional strength that will allow the child to move forward.

Child working with Montessori cylinder blocks