I suggested that she allow some time for them both to calm down and then to ask what her child was thinking at the time. What made him think his response was okay? Why would he think to do that? And then, ask him what he was going to do to remedy the situation. She asked me if I wanted a written apology. I told her to please ask her son what he thought would be the right thing to do. If he wanted to apologize, that was fine, but it had to be his idea. An apology without sincerity is not an apology.
How many times have you had personal encounters which made you think a person just wasn't sincere? Was it a disgruntled sales clerk who told you “Have a nice day” when you know she would rather have been texting her boyfriend? Maybe it was when you knew you were having a bad hair day and your mother told you looked great? Or maybe an older child pushed her younger sister down on the playground and yelled “sorry” over her shoulder as she laughed and ran away?
As Montessori parents and educators, we want our children to grow up happy, healthy, and responsible. We want them to be well-adjusted, caring and concerned members of adult society. We teach them to say please and thank you at an early age. However, teaching them the words is not enough. How do we teach a child about sincerity? It is a difficult task! We must teach them how to feel and care. We must teach them to not simply go through the motions, but to put themselves in the position of others.
Thoughts on Teaching Values for Montessori Educators: Apologies, Sincerity, and Modeling Behavior
Setting a good example is important, but it goes farther than that. Giving children the words to recognize their own thoughts and feelings and those of others can nurture understanding, empathy, and compassion. Ask children questions that help them understand their own behaviors.
- How do you think grandma felt when you gave her a hug today?
- How do you feel when someone is kind to you?
- How would you feel if someone said “thank you” for a gift, but then threw it aside with the rest of the wrapping paper trash?
- What could you have said or done differently?
- What do you think you can do to remedy the situation?
- Do you know why your words were hurtful?
My friend’s son later came online himself and apologized for his behavior. He told me he didn't realize it was me and we had a very brief discussion on needing to think how his words and actions are perceived by others. I know he felt badly; he had acted on sheer impulse and regretted it.
It is important that we as adults take time to talk to our children about our own values and how we feel about things. We need to use daily occurrences as teachable moments so that our children grow up strong, moral, and happy.
NAMC related blogs:
- The Language of Virtue, Character Education Activities and Taking Montessori Home
- Character Education Ideas for the Montessori Classroom
- Promoting Montessori Grace and Courtesy with the Vase of Kindness
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, November 15, 2012.