33 phrases from Montessori teachers for gentle communication with children


The Montessori method is much more than the materials or toys that children interact with. This is the ability of an adult to see a child as a holistic person, capable of achieving any goals and deserving of respect. And how the adult talks to the child determines whether he will be understood.

In the article we will look at examples of phrases that help Montessori teachers build trusting relationships with children. The general principle is this: we always communicate respectfully and politely, taking into account the needs of the baby. We also share with him the rules and culture accepted in our society.

During the conversation, it is important to be on the same level as the child. When your eyes are in front of your baby's, he feels important and safe.
Examples of phrases from Montessori communication

When communicating, we always take into account the child’s age: the younger he is, the shorter the phrases and simpler the words. Short directions help children better understand what needs to be done. Such phrases may seem rude to adults, but children understand them more clearly. A two-year-old will understand: “Are you doing it yourself or do you need help?”, but it will be difficult for him to perceive: “Will you add the dressing to the salad yourself and mix it or is it better for me to do it?”

Gradually, short phrases can be made longer. We will say to a toddler, “Put on your shoes!”, and to an older child, “It’s time to go to school.” Please put on your shoes so we can get into the car.”

Below are the most effective phrases for communicating with young children.

     "Please pass me the salt"
     “Thank you for helping set the table.”
     "Bon appetit"

And other polite phrases that demonstrate a model of effective communication in different life situations. Such words can often be heard during conversations at the table and in other everyday situations. Adults communicate this way with each other and with children, and it becomes a natural norm. After all, we really enjoy being in each other’s company.

     “Please help me move a chair.”

We know that kids like to be involved in meaningful activities, they enjoy helping adults and gaining such interaction experience.

     “Do you need help or will you put the toys away yourself?”
     “Do you want to wear a gray T-shirt or a green one?”

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When we can give children a choice, we provide it. This way they learn to make decisions and become more aware of their desires. They are also more willing to engage in the proposed activity: when they don’t want to go to bed, put away toys, or get dressed for a walk. The child also needs to know that you are nearby, but believe in him, and if things don’t work out, he will be able to turn to you.

     “I have something for you, would you like me to show you?”
     “Come on, I have something interesting for you.”

In a prepared environment, children can choose any activity. But we can support if we see indecision: the child cannot start a lesson or does not know what to choose. There is a possibility that he intends to simply look at the activities of those around him. In this case, it is better to give him this opportunity.

     “Excuse me, please, can I take (move) your thing?”
     "Let `s together?"

We ask before using a child's item or joining in an activity. It is important that he sees that the rule regarding things works the same for everyone. Before you take someone's item, you must ask permission. This is how we convey an acceptable and effective form of communication, serving as a model for others to follow. It’s the same with intervention: doing things together is great, but only if the child has a desire. This principle works the same both in a Montessori group and at home.

     “I feel bad when people push me (hit me, bite me)”
     “I don’t allow myself to be pushed”
     “We don’t push each other, you can tell me in words not to touch your things.”
     "I won't let you do this"

A child needs to hear such words from adults in order to build his own boundaries and respect others’. We don’t just say “you can’t push,” because he will check whether it’s possible or not. But we convey accepted standards of behavior so that he learns to communicate effectively and convey his desires to other people in an acceptable form.

     “I see that you are upset (angry, sad)”
     "I understand that you are sad"
     “Do you want to tell me what happened?”

We recognize the right to emotions of any person and the opportunity to express them. But they should not offend anyone or give anyone a reason to benefit from the manifestation of negative emotions. So if he falls to the floor and cries, we don't offer food or holding him. We show that we are there, we can listen and support.

     "Can not understand anything. If you need help, you can say so"
     “You can ask me to help you put on your shoe.”

We say this in Montessori when a child, instead of asking, shouts or points at some object. Even if we understand, we still teach him to formulate his thoughts and desires in words. After all, it’s really not always clear if you just show it or express it with interjections. That's how we

We also talk when the baby gets angry or upset if something doesn’t work out.

Thanks to this approach, children learn to be aware of their feelings and talk about them. And adults show that they are nearby, but will not try to understand at a glance.

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     “It’s cold today, it’s raining. What clothes do you think are suitable for a walk? Let's look out the window, what are people wearing?
     “Today is grandma’s birthday, it’s a holiday. Let's wear something festive? Which dress do you like, this or that?”

These phrases can be used to communicate with children closer to 2.5 years old. It is useful to create conditions in which the child will notice a logical connection between events. For example, between weather conditions or events in family life and the way we dress. This will help him absorb the culture and traditions of the society in which he lives.

     "Now is not the time for..."

This phrase from Montessori teachers indicates a clear boundary of “now”, and also that this boundary is not permanent: “Now is not the time for toys, we are having lunch, but after that you can go back to the room and play.”

     “I see that... I wonder why.”

This phrase is well suited to allow the child to feel in the shoes of another person. If he doesn’t answer, then you can help: “I see that your brother is moving away from you. I wonder why? Maybe he doesn't want to hug?

The phrase “I see that...” can also be used as an indirect guide to action: “I see that your shoes are scattered.” With this phrase, the child gets the opportunity to solve the problem on his own without directly pointing to it.

     “Can I hug you?”

Asking for permission to touch another person is something important to teach your child. Always respect your child's decision, even if he says no. It is important that he also learns to say how/how much he would like to be hugged.

     "Please go around this tree"

The exact names of objects are much clearer to a child than the more abstract words “he/she/they/it”.

     "Hands behind your back please"

Sometimes a child's desire to touch something is too strong, but it can be dangerous. This phrase can be used when you are preparing dinner together. At this time, the child may have access to foods that are unsafe to eat or something hot. The phrase will help you avoid trouble.

     "Are you okay? Is there anything I can do for you to make you feel better?”

Instead of forcing the child to apologize, in Montessori we ask if everything is okay. If he doesn’t want to answer, we help: “I see that Masha hit herself and has a bruise. Masha, is there anything Grisha can do for you to make you feel better?”

Sometimes a child who has been wronged needs to be offered an alternative. Perhaps he wants to be alone, to be hugged or kissed, to be brought ice, treated to something tasty, or simply apologized. This phrase helps Montessori teachers develop empathy and respect for others in children.

     “What exactly can I help you with?”

This phrase helps to separate the difficult part from the simple part in the lesson and support the child’s independence. “I see that it’s difficult for you to button your coat. What exactly can I help you with? You can insert the zipper into the dog and let your child do the rest.

     “Where do you think you can look for this?”

A wonderful response to a child’s exclamation “I can’t find my shoes!” This phrase encourages critical thinking and independence.

     “You tried so hard and put a lot of effort into this.”

This phrase emphasizes the process rather than the result, and replaces the popular phrase “Great job!” You can continue and say: “What did you like most about this lesson?”, “Tell me in more detail how you did it?”

     "How can we solve this problem? We need ideas"

This is how we show the child that any idea he has has value. We also help him practice problem solving—he learns to take responsibility. And, most likely, he will be able to solve this problem if he finds a solution for it on his own.

     “Did that surprise you?”

This phrase teaches you to understand your emotions and understand what exactly surprised him.

     “How did that make you feel?”

Instead of assuming why the child is upset and labeling him, asking this question helps the adult better understand the child's thoughts.

Of course, it will take time to learn how to communicate in a Montessori way: getting down to the child’s level, making eye contact and calmly and respectfully helping to get out of a difficult situation. It is very useful to think in advance about how you will behave in a particular case, especially if there are already situations that make you angry.

Your calmness and consistent actions are an anchor for the child. Not giving in to his emotions is important to respectfully handling the situation. This can be really difficult, so it's absolutely okay to wait and calm down yourself before talking to your child.

If you didn't do it this time the way you would like, say that next time you will try to do things differently. This creates a trusting relationship between you and gives the child the right model of behavior.

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