Friday, December 12, 2014

Montessori Values: Modeling Kindness During the Holiday Season

Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a Store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!

— Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

When I was growing up, my mother and grandmother had a little impish elf among their holiday d├ęcor. He sat quietly on the shelf, watching the holiday festivities, without being an interactive part of our holiday.

Today, the popular ‘elf on the shelf’ that appears at the holidays is used as a sort of secular advent countdown to Christmas. Often, children are told that the elf is there watching for their good behavior. While the elf is supposed to ensure that the children are behaving well, he is notorious for getting into mischief himself. Children wake up daily to see what kind of trouble the elf has gotten into overnight.

Modeling Kindness During the Holiday Season


The elf’s antics may seem harmless to adults, but what message are we sending the children? We ask children to be on their best behavior during a time that can be stressful and full of anticipation. Having a mischievous elf monitoring them does not seem quite fair. In addition, having to think up something cute for the elf to do every night only adds to a parent’s long list of holiday preparations.

Let’s start a movement to put the elf back on the shelf by simplifying the holidays. Rather than frantically trying to do it all, let’s slow down and rediscover the peace that comes during this time of year.

When our children see us modeling calm, peaceful behavior their own behavior will follow.


And if your family enjoys having an elf, why not have an elf that also models good behavior? My sister sent me a recent article about Ellie, the Kindness Elf, who brings kindness with her. In the article, Ellie cleans a little girl’s room while she is at school. What a wonderful act of kindness! I can just imagine how good that little girl felt, coming home and seeing a clean room. Imagine what your home would be like if it was full of random acts of kindness? I can see whole families coming together to replicate kind behavior unto others. Baking cookies for neighbors, helping at a food pantry, donating winter coats to those in need, the possibilities are endless.


The holidays shouldn’t be about ‘getting caught’ being good. Instead, this time of year should inspire us to live a good and peaceful life and working together to bring joy to all around us.

Michelle Irinyi — NAMC Tutor & Graduate

As much as possible, NAMC’s web blog reflects the Montessori curriculum as provided in its teacher training programs. We realize and respect that Montessori schools are unique and may vary their schedules and offerings in accordance with the needs of their individual communities. We hope that our readers will find our articles useful and inspiring as a contribution to the global Montessori community.
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Friday, December 12, 2014.

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