The Real Needs of Children

I was reading an old archive of Montessori magazine and I stumbled upon this article. The article was dated 30 years ago, which is still relevant nowadays. What we do now for our children will have a huge impact in their adulthood.  



The Real Needs of Children

Montessori Matters

(Excerpt from “Too Precious Parenting” in Mothering Magazine, Summer 1990) 

What do children really need for the important task of self-discovery? They need to be bored. They need to be unhappy. They need to discover their own inner voices and their own pretend games. They need to be sad. They also need to be told to clean up and help with the dishes.


The routine and the banal, the repetitive and the frustrating, are all aspects of life that need to be explored. Life in the family is a rehearsal for life in the world. We cannot expect our children to cope with anger, frustration, and pain if they have not learned to cope with these feelings at home.


Children occasionally need the sort of benevolent neglect that allows a flower to choose its own time and place to blossom. Now, and then, we must turn our attention back to our spouse, our friends, or our work, and give the children an opportunity to just ‘be’. When we find ourselves overly intent on manipulating a child’s environment, it is time to stop and examine our motives. We must not be afraid of meeting our children’s fears, sadness, anger, and frustration; If we run away from negativity, we only teach our children to do the same. The question is, are we protecting or controlling? Are we indulging our children or ourselves?


I saw my child sitting on the floor, chatting away at one of her toys, I would throw myself down next to her and ask what was going on. Essentially, I was butting in. I was interrupting her play. She did not need me at those times.


But I needed her. I liked playing, and I was indulging myself in the guise of showering her with attention. After reforming my behaviour and encouraging my daughter to find ways to amuse herself, I decided upon a new house rule: avoid interrupting a happy child. Instead, pat yourself on the back for raising a child who can be absorbed in the world of childhood.