What is positive guidance? Some folks equate this to child-led rearing, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. It doesn’t mean happiness at all costs. The positive guidance philosophy recognizes that children actually learn when supported through conflict — not when protected from it. The aspect of positivity indicates a foundation in healthy adult-child relationships. Those relationships are built upon mutual respect and trust. It supports the notion that authority can exist without bullying, fear, or domination. It is focused on teaching the skills and habits children need to learn in order to become successful. Children are not punished for failure, hoping they’ll figure it out. There is a focus on increasing a child’s capacity for self-control rather than an effort to increasingly exert our own control over them. We want our children to be good people, doing good things on their own, not just when they are told to.
To give guidance, one must have intention, expectations, and be able to recognize and assert boundaries. We are guiding children toward independence. We give gentle reminders, coach through problem solving, and enforce boundaries in an effort to instruct children to self-sufficiency. It’s this successful independence developed through guided practice confronting and overcoming challenge that truly builds self-esteem. Far too many individuals today have an overabundance of a sense of entitlement.
At Five Star Montessori, we recognize there are many ways to influence a child’s behavior. But it is positive guidance that gives us the tools necessary to encourage appropriate behavior through healthy, constructive means. We partner with our parents to ensure consistency and follow through. In this manner, we further help develop our children into strong, confident citizens.