In Episode 16, we talk all about the Child Development and Montessori perspectives of teaching manners to our sweet babies!
We discuss things like...
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Bianca A. Solorzano, M.Ed.
Baby Development & Montessori Consultant
And Your Baby Tour Guide
Bianca: [00:00:07] Welcome to Baby Tour Guide’s, Montessori Babies podcast, I'm your host and baby tour guide, Bianca Solorzano. And for the last decade, I have dedicated myself to helping parents, educators and caregivers optimize baby development through a Montessori lens. This podcast is all about evolving our Montessori practice to make our time with our sweet babies easier, relaxed and so much fun. Let's jump into it.
Welcome to Episode 16 of our Montessori Babies podcast, I first want to say thank you so much for everyone showing their support for our show. I am having so, so much fun making these episodes, and I'm really loving hearing your stories as well. So to everyone who has left reviews or shot me an email or sent me a dm to chat, thank you so much. It's been so fun getting to know you. I want to start with a quote, kind of as per usual, that may not seem too relevant to the manners topic, actually, but bear with me as we hit these points at the end of this episode. This quote will just make so much sense. So jumping into the, quote, children learn more from what you are than what you teach. And that was said by Web Dubois. So in regards to the manners topic, it is a bit of a controversial topic in the world of child development. And the reason for that is that there are kind of two sides to the coin. And again, I'm just a huge proponent of informed decision making.
Bianca: [00:01:53] So what I'm going to do is give you both sides of this coin and then you do what feels best to you and what you feel like is best for you and your baby. So the first thing that we have to consider is that children won't consciously know the meaning behind manners. So those please’s in the thank you’s and all of that until around age three. And that's because at three, they transition right into that conscious absorption. So what's happening? Kind of like I mentioned earlier in one of our earlier episodes when we were talking about the absorbent mind and what's going on in a baby's brain, what's happening is from birth to three, they're in an unconscious absorption. So everything is unconscious as far as the way that they're learning about their world around 3:00. So somewhere between two and a half and three and a half, depending on the child, they transition into a conscious absorption. So now there's a higher level of awareness, a higher level of consciousness about what's going on, what they're learning and that kind of thing. So when we consider that, so somewhere around three, they'll start to have an idea about their manners. So all that said, in Montessori, what I was taught was to never encourage the child to say their manners because they don't understand it yet. So that's kind of the more traditional Montessori idea behind it. They don't understand it. And therefore those words are meaningless. So the please’s and the thank you's and all of that.
Bianca: [00:03:23] And they don't understand the meaning behind, you know, using manners. But what they do encourage in Montessori is to model it throughout the day and eventually your child will catch on and implement it at their own pace. So whenever they're developmentally ready and they understand it and they see how the manners positively affect those around them, then they will start to use it as well. So that's the first side of the coin, is that they developmentally don't quite understand it yet. And so just model, model, model until around 3 and then they will start to use it as well. The other side to this coin is encouraging your baby to get into the habit of using manners throughout the day. Again, with that end goal of having them understand the meaning behind it around three. So essentially, they'd already be in the habit of using their manners to then eventually understand the why behind it. You know, and so a little story time for you, as many of you know, if you've been with us for our podcasting journey. I've spent many years working with babies and toddlers and their families in both the school and home settings. And all of these families have a wide variety of views on this topic. Some parents choose to encourage their babies to use their manners from day one. And other parents allow the child to express freely and less driven by the child. The latter option would be the more Montessori option.
Bianca: [00:04:54] But when considering what is best for you, what's best for your baby, we need to know the number one way to teach manners to babies. And that number one way that babies will learn manners is by role modeling. Because children learn more from what you are than what you teach. So essentially the do as I say, not as I do, is really ineffective, especially when it comes to how you treat others. So before you start to teach your babies manners, I would definitely suggest starting with seeing where your act and your habits and you know the way that you use your manners, because realistically, if you want your baby to say please and thank you and express, you know, moments of kindness and maybe even one day, you know, hold the door for the little old lady walking behind them, you know, all of that starts with you and your modeling and how they see their primary caregivers interacting with their society and their world around them. And this is actually its own topic in Montessori. So modeling kindness and manners and all of that around us, the topics called grace and courtesy, and it's very much encouraged all day long in infancy and in toddlerhood. It is very much modeling and giving lessons on it, whereas, once they transitioned after, then it's the actual teaching, giving examples, offering moments of opportunity, that kind of thing.
Bianca: [00:06:34] So the first thing that I would suggest asking yourself is, do you do that stuff? Do you say please and thank you to your partner when they hand you something, do you say please when you need something or thank you when something good is given to you or done to you or that kind of thing. So that's where I would definitely suggest starting. And just understand that if you're not expressing manners in your day to day existence, your baby likely won't either. And even if you do end up making it a rule of the house, for example, your baby is learning what you do outside, too. And so if outside you're not using your manners with the waiters when you go to dinner or saying thank you, when they bring your food or holding the door for that little old lady, your child is learning that. And therefore they have a really strong chance of not doing that outside of the house either, because, again, most of the time they're mirroring what they see. And of course, there are exceptions to this. This is just a general rule of thumb as far as the main way that kids will learn, especially this type of thing, as far as manners in the way that we treat others, in the way that we interact with those around us. So now let's go ahead and jump into what I recommend for this approach for teaching babies manners. My opinion on this is if manners and politeness are values to you and your family, this is likely something you already practice within your day to day existence, and therefore your child will see this as the norm.
Bianca: [00:08:14] So getting your child into the habit of using those manners will be fairly easy because the language and the approach is modeled all day, every day by you and by the way that you interact with your surrounding world. And so that's essentially what I would focus on, is if it's a value to you, implement it, because it will be so much easier for your baby to learn these things if you're the one modeling it throughout the day, not just having them do it to you or with others, but you with others as well. And if manners aren't something that you're currently practicing in a conscious way, you know, you're just maybe kind of moving to faster, just going throughout the day. And there's obvious high levels of stress that happen when you're working with young children or you have young children, but you want. To go ahead and teach them manners and work with them and all of that definitely do it. It's never too late to start showing your kids how to, you know, spoil others with kindness through manners, you know, manners included. But teaching manners to babies starts with you. And once that's a conscious part of your life, your child will see that and learn that. And so now for me, the way that I taught my babies was through modeling, like overtly modeling by giving huge thank you's when my assistance would bring something I needed for a project, for example, in the classroom, or by saying, can you please help me rewarm this bottle as I'm holding, you know, the baby who's waiting patiently for their bottle.
Bianca: [00:09:50] You know, sometimes it's really hard for babies to wait. So and, you know, just say thank you so much as they did help, you know, just really emphasizing those manners because they're absorbing it. You know, they're watching. They're learning. And if that's part of what they know to be their world, they will know that to be their world, you know, and they'll understand it consciously later on. One of the best times that I have found to model manners is during meal and feeding times. And that's because there's so much exchange of food and drinks and clean up, et cetera. Everything from, you know, can you please hand me your cup to thank you for handing me your cup, which is also an amazing language. Awesome, by the way, because we're labeling the cup, you know, so there are so many really amazing ways that we can incorporate manners into meal times. And then they're also watching you exchange, especially if you're at a family dinner. Right. If you guys are sitting there that you, your partner, an older sibling, or maybe everyone sitting together and everyone's modeling this type of language and approach with each other, that is just the most perfect time to hone in on using manners.
Bianca: [00:11:08] So with young babies, you can actually teach, please and thank you through using baby sign. So baby sign language if you are baby signing with them. I know some parents choose to, some parents choose to. I did in the classroom just to give them a tool because I really loved when they would sign, you know, to eat when they were hungry and they became really conscious about it. But it's totally your choice as far as whether or not you want to use baby sign. So again, if you know that you're using manners throughout the day and it's a value you would like to instill from day one, you could teach them to sign, for example, water, please, instead of just water again with the end goal of them recognizing the meaning behind it later on, already being in the habit of doing that. And finally, as most of you know, a couple episodes ago I spoke with Dr. Organic Mommy about praising babies. And it was an amazing conversation about praise. And so I will go ahead and link that below for you to take a listen. But the reason I bring it up is I'm going to go ahead and end our show with one of my biggest bonus pro tips regarding modeling manners. And this is just a pro-tip that I hope you guys can use every day. So here it is. Try using “thank you” instead of “good job” in any instance where it makes sense.
Bianca: [00:12:31] I've been doing this for my entire career as soon as I discovered it, and it is an amazing replacement. So, for example, if I'm teaching them to, you know, say, throw away the trash after meals or say they had a big chunk of food that they tossed on the floor and part of the after meal is cleanup. And so I'm teaching them to throw it away instead of saying good job when they did it. So, for example, good job, baby. You did that. You know, you can just say thank you so much. That was so helpful. You worked so hard on that. You know, that way you're modeling the manners and you're also offering the language to that action and placing emphasis on how hard they worked throughout the process, which is so amazing because there are so many amazing things that this one phrase hits. Plus one belief in Montessori is that we treat all children with the same level of kindness and respect as you would another adult, because that's the way they learn it. And offering gratitude is exactly what you would say to a stranger who held the door for you or for your partner for doing the dishes while you took a nap. You know, personally, I think spreading kindness and joy and using manners and interactions and overall, just putting out positivity is one of the best things that we can do for humanity.
Bianca: [00:13:59] And you guys know I love my research. And so I thought I'd offer the results of this amazing study I found on spreading kindness in a wide variety of ways. I think people for you and they wanted to see if people were more likely to spread positivity after receiving it, and they found that people were more likely to spread kindness after receiving it. So essentially, even modeling to other adults can positively affect our communities. And so and we teach this to our kids. We're really on our way to making our world a more compassionate and positive place, one child at a time. And so that's it. I hope you enjoyed Episode 16 of the Montessori Babies podcast. Thank you so much for those of you who tuned in, and I will catch you in the next episode. Bye guys!
Hey, it's Bianca, your baby tour guide her, hopping back in to say thank you again for listening to this episode of Montessori Babies. If you found this episode helpful and would like more information, hop on over babytourguide.com and download my FREE Montessori eGuide to join our community and receive the latest on optimizing development through a Montessori lens. You can also find me on Instagram and Facebook @ babytourguide. Also, if you found this episode helpful to your Montessori practice, I would absolutely love it if you would leave a review to help other parents and educators find our show. Thanks again for listening and I will catch you in the next episode, Bye!