Ever since I became pregnant, pretty much everywhere I looked, I see the Montessori method of child-rearing mentioned. Toy companies trying to market more aggressively label their toys “Montessori” to increase their perceived value (and price). Everyone talks about encouraging children to be their own independent selves, and the way to do that is to have the child “lead,” whether that’s through baby-led weaning (which is inherently “Montessori”), skipping a sippy cup and going directly to straws and open cups; and having children choose their activities vs. having the parents push activities on the children.
In a nutshell, the Montessori method has five principles:
- Respect for the child
- The absorbent mind
- Sensitive periods
- The prepared environment
- Auto education
What this all means is: education should revolve around “child-led activities” versus “work.” Even without seeing the label of “Montessori,” I’m already very pro Montessori concepts like baby-led weaning, like skipping a sippy cup in favor of a straw or open cup drinking, like encouraging Kaia to problem solve instead of fixing all her problems for her. But at some point, the Montessori method really does go too far, and when I say “too far,” what I mean is this:
I recently got suggested a Montessori parenting handle on Instagram where the mother had a somewhat radical idea when it came to feeding babies. She suggested that instead of giving babies and young toddlers metal, plastic, or silicone plates, bowls, and cups to instead give them ceramic dishes and ceramic or glass drinking cups. The idea behind this is that if you allow the baby to throw or drop a glass or ceramic cup/plate, the mere scary sound of the crash/shattering would be so startling to the child that they would immediately re-think ever throwing or intentionally/accidentally dropping a plate/cup ever again. That way, we “respect” the child by allowing them to do what they want, and at the same time, they come to realize on their own through these loud sounds that throwing/dropping is wrong, and to never do it again. And — that’s ultimately a Montessori approach to feeding young children and teaching them that plates/cups stay on the table!
Ummmm, no. No, no, and no. I’m not going to spend endless money on replacing glass cups and ceramic plates just to do the “Montessori” method of feeding. No, I don’t want to further add to the world’s landfill. And no, I don’t want to constantly clean and sweep up broken glass and ceramics, I don’t want to expect Chris or my nanny to do that, and I especially do not want to risk Kaia getting punctured or injured in the process. Sometimes, these suggestions are truly just beyond stupid. Those who are constantly obsessing over whether they are truly following the “Montessori” or any other method need to get a grip of themselves, calm down, step back, and just be in reality for a second. There’s no reason to get your panties in a bunch because you’re not the perfect parent; no one is, and no one ever will be!