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Building strong and healthy relationships with toddlers requires a foundation of respect, collaboration, and above all, patience. To guide children effectively, it's essential to convey that we are on their side and understand their perspective. When children feel better, they behave better, and this can be achieved by honoring their requests and involving them in daily tasks.

For parents, the journey involves reflection on simple yet impactful actions: putting down the phone when the child seeks attention, active listening to understand the child's communication, and ensuring adequate time for personal well-being to be fully present with the child.

Observing non-verbal cues becomes key in recognizing a child's state—identifying signs of overstimulation, fatigue, sleepiness, hunger, and thirst. In a Montessori context, this observation is integral to daily routines, guiding the educator’s approach to connect with each child effectively.

Parents and educators alike are encouraged to take moments of intentional observation, noting the children's activities and interests. This practice not only aids record-keeping but also provides valuable insights for planning personalized lessons.

The concept of freedom in Montessori extends beyond independence from external control. It involves making informed choices within limits, fostering self-construction, and instilling a sense of responsibility. Parents are urged to apply this understanding, recognizing the child's evolving independence and guiding their choices responsibly.

Toddlers, like teenagers, might not always act in their own best interest. Setting firm boundaries and projecting a secure authority is essential. Tantrums, often viewed as testing behavior, present opportunities for children to learn about rules, limits, feelings, and self-regulation.

Understanding and responding to a child's emotions require building a foundation of trust and connection. Rather than simply instructing, observe and recognize the cause of any challenges. Acknowledge the child's feelings without overemphasizing and provide support without taking over. It's a delicate balance of allowing feelings to run their course while setting reasonable limits.

Discipline strategies focus on immediate response, collaboration, and consistent enforcement of rules. Communication within a parenting team or between educators is crucial to avoid conflicting expectations, especially during a child's transition into a Montessori environment.

Modeling desired behaviors through Grace and Courtesy—a Montessori tool—includes sitting in a chair to eat, walking slowly, speaking quietly, cleaning and tidying, and seeking permission before taking something from someone else. This approach fosters a sense of control for the child, reducing the likelihood of tantrums.

Cleaning up becomes an integral lesson, emphasizing patience and a slow, deliberate process. Guiding the child back to put away materials after each activity and modeling the completion of work cycles contribute to developing a sense of responsibility.

In conclusion, navigating the toddler terrain requires a blend of observation, respect, and intentional communication. By understanding the child's perspective, setting consistent boundaries, and modeling desired behaviors, both parents and educators can contribute to the holistic development of toddlers, creating an environment where they can thrive.

Elise Arevalo, AMI Trainer for 0–3