“When we raise our voices at children, our weapons are no less hurtful. The lessons are far more dangerous” (Catherine McTamaney, The Tao of Montessori). These words from the book “The Tao of Montessori” speak to me a lot as an adult who grew up with adults using their power and voice to show me that “they were the boss” in the classroom. When I think about my own classroom and how the volume of my voice has a giant impact on not only the level of energy in the class, but also if my children are truly listening.
We have all had those moments of frustration where you feel you aren’t being heard so you raise the volume of your voice to top someone else. Does this work? Or do you find yourself still not being heard? In the classroom, we have moments of high energy and as their guide it is my job to help them find their way back to a normal level of energy. Using a calm and low voice while on the level of the children, I find that they quiet their own voices to truly listen what is being said. Reminding the child they cannot hear you when their voice is that loud or that you cannot move on to the next task till they are quiet allows them to independently change their volume. Reacting this way to a child who may be screaming solved the situation without the adult having to use their power to scare the child into silence.
As we teach our children how to use gentle hands to others and their environment, we have to reflect on how we are using our hands to promote this kindness. During my training, we practiced wiping each other’s hands with wipes to show gentleness. The first time, we used a rough technique. We would quickly jerk up one another’s hands without giving any warning and quickly clean in a way that was unaware to the way the person may be feeling. The second time, we spoke to the person through the entire process while using gentle strokes to clean the hand. In the end, the two hands felt completely different. One hand feeling abused and left unclean while the other felt loved and light. I brought this practice to our school and showed the other teachers, reminding them of the importance of the gentle hands we use while caring for the children. If we were to grab them and use rough hands, this could translate into a behavior that is acceptable for them to use. Using a kind voice and our hands in gentle way show the child that we care about their well being. This respect of their bodies, even though they are so small, allows for them to feel loved and understand what is happening to them. This graceful way of handling the child will show them kindness that will help them grow into peaceful adults themselves.
“Everything you say to your child is absorbed, catalogued and remembered.” -Maria Montessori