Montessori Parenting Mantras to Inspire Resilience and Growth
Montessori parent Jenna Wawrzyniec shares the top three parenting mantras that helped her build resilience over the past year.
“What is in my control that can help my family thrive?”
I periodically make a point to reflect on this question, but it was admittedly easy to skip over in 2020 — a year that brought a steady stream of change and hurdles that placed us in a draining state of reacting. When it came time to ring in 2021, I found myself reaching for resilience as my top personal goal. I wanted to counter the fatigue of staying afloat and focus on ways to productively adapt and overcome.
Since so much of what I do is through the lens of mothering, I knew that I needed to define my reach for resilience in a way that was inclusive of parenthood. So, I came up with three parenting mantras, all of which brought me back full circle to the peace found through facilitating a Montessori home:
1. I can’t prepare my children if I don’t prepare myself
2. Connecting with my child proactively is better than connecting reactively
3. I like you because …
These ideas brought me back full circle to the peace found through facilitating a Montessori home: We instill a deep respect for our children that goes beyond adoration and we have a heightened awareness of the benefits of being prepared and proactive.
Why a mantra? Because sticking with new frameworks takes repetition. By translating my parenting goals into approachable phrases, I will be more likely to remember them, to repeat them, and to ensure they become actionable during moments of parental overwhelm.
I can’t prepare my children if I don’t prepare myself.
The Prepared Environment was my first introduction to Montessori. Before my oldest was school age, I found myself enthralled with the tremendous attention to detail that Montessori educators put on the child’s surroundings. The changes we implemented in our home — structure, simplicity and accessibility — quickly showed direct impact. They minimized chaos, created higher engagement, and fostered a greater sense of independence within my children.
Preparing my children to participate at home has continued to grow as a focal point of my parenting. I carve out extra time for thoughtful toy rotation based on their interests. I restore order to support their concentration. I plan moments each day where I invite them to join me in hands-on, real life work. However, I don’t prepare for myself as generously as I do for them.
This mantra will help me prioritize myself. Montessori’s concept of The Prepared Adult is what ultimately nurtures curiosity and joy in a child’s life. Having a thoughtful space to learn is helpful, but the joy that must drive learning doesn’t come from the stuff. It comes from the people in a child’s life. What does preparation look like for me? It looks like self-care and renewed dedication to making time for personal growth.
““The real preparation for education is a study of one's self.
“The training of the teacher who is to help life is something
“far more than the learning of ideas. It includes the training
“of character, it is a preparation of the spirit."
—Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind”
Connecting with my child proactively is better than connecting reactively.
Connection is most beneficial when we normalize it in neutral moments. Reactive connection, like when I make a mistake as a parent and need to repair the relationship, is important too, but the more our children feel connected to us with meaningful quality time, the less likely they are to seek our attention in negative ways at the day’s end.
We recently welcomed our third baby. As a family of five, we now do everything together by default, which has made one-on-one time with each child require much more intention on my part. I want to use this mantra to remind myself to connect with each of my children individually a little bit every day.
Beyond quality time and emotional support, connection is also a helpful parenting tool for promoting true independence. In these early years, we can be so eager for them to do things for themselves that we skip past the building blocks to independence, which are connection and guidance.
I like you because …
It’s easy to love our children; it’s harder to like them! When my son makes dinosaur noises on repeat, I don’t love him any less but I’m also not super fond of listening to his squeals and shrieks. We don’t have to like everything our children do. That said, it’s so valuable to practice authentically liking our children beyond loving them. This mantra will help me do just that.
Loving our children provides security, but it doesn’t automatically provide the layer of respect that liking them does. When I am intentional about liking my children, it opens the door to adding more curiosity to our relationship. When I remain curious — I wonder why they are doing that; I wonder how she is feeling about this; I wonder if there is a better way to support them here — we are sending the message that we see them, and we’d better honor them as unique individuals.
This is powerful for breaking apart negative self-talk, too: “He’s being so destructive,” which then becomes a negative label. “My child is bad,” which sets us up for a combative relationship and makes it harder to enjoy our children.
Instead, I could honor the fact that I don’t like my child’s behavior without letting it become a gripe in our relationship.
“I wonder why my child is throwing so much today,” which then triggers curiosity instead of judgment. “My child might be expressing a need for gross motor work.”
Imagine the impact when our children undoubtedly feel they are not only loved, but also seen, understood and liked.
Prepare. Connect. Appreciate.
Who’s with me?
Jenna is a trained journalist and writer whose parenting journey transformed after implementing Montessori at home with her three children. She is a passionate advocate for bridging Montessori to the mainstream as a means to build community, empower parent-child relationships, and honor learning as the lifelong journey that it is.
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