Knox is nearing 3 years old. And it is amazing what a few months can do. Montessori theory talks about the 3 stages of obedience as part of the child’s developing self-discipline, and I am seeing Knox enter the second stage (able to obey), with some hints at the third (joyful to obey).
– We were at the library and he wanted to go down the one flight of stairs, but I needed to go in the elevator with the stroller. “Go down the stairs ahead of me and I’ll meet you downstairs.” I said, walking into the elevator. I watched him cheerfully scurry off. And we met on the floor below.
– I can trust him to stay close to me and obey vocal commands “Stop. Now.” when walking on the road. Even when he is on his balance bike. Which “has two wheels! Like a motorcycle! Like that one!” Without physically restraining him.
– When he takes something out that I hadn’t set out on his shelves for him to use. I can tell him: “No, I need to finish working on this and then you can use it.” and he will put it back. I can also tell him: “Oh, you have the sticker activity. You know you have to put it back after you use it, right?” and half the time he will remember to do so, particularly if he has turned to me and said “Yes.” … I love how he seems to brighten up about being reminded of the order of things.
– He will calm down when I explain that, if an object (ball, privilege to see a video…etc.) continues to be a source of contention/tantrums/whining, it will be taken away from him.
I find it interesting to consider, in the context of our modern culture, when we think about obedience, we find it an oppressive concept. But it is a sign of growth of the child’s maturity and sociability. After all, the first stage of being able to live with others is to repress one’s own id. I do think it is something that had to built up though – his ability to trust me. One day I heard our babysitter tell Knox that “We will go to Carrefour now.” When he was crying, which was not true. They were going to the playroom. Children need to hear the truth, even if it is a disappointment. How can you expect the child to trust and obey you in the future if you lie to them?
I am starting to really see how consistency and honesty in working with children develops trust. I also have to constantly remind myself to be present, but not interfering. Sometimes, I pretend I am Jane Goodall observing chimpanzees in their natural state. It really helps me understand their personalities & abilities, and I feel much more capable of diagnosing the issue when whining erupts.
Sometimes I set consequences that I really do not want to follow through, but I still have to anyway. About three months ago Knox had an issue with going in the carseat. I told him that if he did not sit still, we would have to drive back to the apartment and not go to playgroup. He persisted on arching his back and moaning. So I asked the driver to turn back to the apartment. When we arrived at our gate, Knox immediately got quiet and sat back in his seat. “I’m not crying mommy! Can we please go to playgroup?” and now, when he goes into the carseat, he will sometimes proudly say “I’m not crying mommy!”
Being able to raise Knox in this way helps me realize how very difficult it is for parents who truly do not have the resources to offer the discipline that the child needs. Such as the necessity of going somewhere (as opposed to my having the luxury of choosing not to go to playgroup). Or truly not being able to afford children breaking things.
Knox also seems to have increasing sense of order. I walk around the house and find things spontaneously arranged in a line, or stacked.
– The other day at a birthday party he had arranged some figurines from a toy around the edge of a rug.
– We have a tray of insects that match to cards, and he has arranged them in little cups. I find it hard to put them back in their proper place as it seems quite apropos.
– He will point to things that he perceives as not being in their right place, or broken, and say ‘Uh oh!’
– He will boss Quin around and direct her “No, this goes here!” If she persists in her disorderly ways, he will throw a fit.
Other skills: puzzles – we are up to 15 piece puzzles now. We started from 2 & 3 piece puzzles about 6 months ago. He was at that stage for quite a while. Though I have mentioned it a few times, he still seems to not completely comprehend borders; I have heard a few moms mention this is the case for their almost 3 y/o.
Quiet moments at home he will go by himself and start building things. He can imitate build duplo pieces, or cars that he has seen others build.