Why You Should Let Your Child Own Their Problems and Play

Did you know that allowing your child the freedom to learn through play can be a really beneficial way for them to naturally develop executive functions?

Executive functions are vital foundational skills that support your child’s personal growth as they engage in exploratory behavior, and help them foster a life-long passion for learning!

What is the Montessori Mothering Approach?

The Montessori style of parenting and education is based on the teachings of Maria Montessori, an Italian doctor and educator from the early 1900s. The foundation of Montessori is rooted in the practice of allowing children to learn through discovery and play, all while encouraging them to work through failures naturally on their own! Montessori mothering emphasizes setting reasonable boundaries with children while also providing a comfortable, free, and nurturing space for them to thrive with responsibility. 

The Importance of Learning Through Discovery and Play

By focusing on your child's abilities to explore and discover on their own, they'll naturally gravitate towards concepts, subjects, and activities that interest them—or that they understand. These fundamental discoveries allow children to lead their own learning instinctively towards activities that both hold their attention and stimulate their mind. Providing the freedom and space for children to engage in such activities also enables them to learn to work through related problems on their own. 

Montessori mothering focuses on child-led play rooted in Attachment Theory—that is, the concept that children develop and learn best under the guidance and support of at least one parent. Here are few ways to support and nurture your child during their independent and self-guided discovery, learning, and play time:

  • Be their shadow! Keep a few paces back as you watch them explore through their play. They’ll feel supported by knowing you’re close by if they need you—but free enough to study what interests them without inhibition.
  • Encourage one-on-one time. Constant questioning by curious toddlers can often feel relentless! By prioritizing quality time with your child and indulging their curiosities with patience and guidance, you can instill within them self-worth and the confidence to question their understanding of things. There is power in raising a child who is unafraid to ask questions and think critically about the world around them! 
  • Get them involved! Activities like sorting laundry, gathering ingredients from the fridge, or helping to feed your pets are all playful activities that help your child feel valued while providing them the freedom to complete activities at their own pace. You can also involve them in other activities like reading, taking the dog for a walk, or watering plants in the garden. This will encourage their development of sensory and motor skills as they mature and help sharpen their focus while exposing them to your own daily world!
  • Create and champion safe spaces. A child-safe space is designed to make your child feel 100% comfortable to explore and make mistakes without fear of judgement, reprimand, or denial. An example of a safe space is their bedroom, with interactive toys, arts and craft supplies, books, building blocks, or musical instruments. Under your supervision and nurturing support, your child is then able to naturally interact with their environment and make decisions with confidence. Creating both physically and psychologically safe spaces within the areas your child frequents the most can help them explore and make safe mistakes without worry! 
  • Reflect on failings. To reinforce your child’s understanding that failure is a part of learning and development, try guiding them through self-reflection after a mistake. If they make a decision that results in a mistake, you can simply ask them, “What would you do differently next time?” By framing the question without judgement or criticism, you inspire them to consider alternate ways to approach problems while giving them the confidence to try again. There is no stigma or shame around failure—only learning!

When you allow your child the freedom to own problems and play, it enables them to build resilience, confidence, and coping skills early in life. The Montessori mothering approach encourages your child to try new things, innovate, temper frustrations, and be open to finding alternate solutions to failures!