Working with Your Child to Find Solutions

By Simone Davies (The Montessori Notebook)

It is easy to get in a power battle with a young child. You ask them to get dressed and they run away; you invite them to go to the bathroom and they don’t want to come; you want to cook and they don’t want to come inside after playing.
Even though they are small, they want to be involved in how things happen.
So my first option would always be to find a way to work with the child so they feel like they have some control in the situation, rather than it being done to them.
The adult is still in charge. But the child can definitely have input how to solve problems. “You really want to keep playing outside and I’m ready to go in. How can we solve the problem?” And, yes, this even applies with pre-verbal children.
Sometimes they will come up with some great ideas (often much more creative than we would have thought of); sometimes we’ll come up with some ideas.
“You’d like to finish that puzzle then you’ll put on your shirt? Ok, I’ll go and get dressed too and come back to see if you’d like some help.”
“We are going to the toilet before we leave. Come. Let’s see if you’d like to use the potty or the toilet.” - confidently lead them, not forcing them, but giving a clear message that it is time to use the toilet.
“Would you like to be in charge of this big bag to go inside and I’ll carry this one?”
There are many respectful ideas here too for those times when your child doesn’t listen.
Just don’t forget they are humans. When you slow down and get them involved in solving problems, you may even find you are more relaxed. You get to share a little of the responsibility. You remain open and curious how it might happen in a different way than you expected, without forcing.
And if they still refuse to cooperate and it’s something important, we are the adult and we can take kind and clear action. “I was hoping we could make it work. We have run out of time so this time I’m going to help you. Yes, I can see you are disappointed we are heading inside. Bye bye garden. See you soon,” and keep moving inside.
It’s a much more relaxed way to parent, working with your child rather than having to threaten, bribe or punish them. Try it and let me know how you go.