Sometimes incorporating the Montessori philosophy at home can seem daunting, but really it can be as simple as putting out a box of tissues for your child - and teaching her how to blow her nose!
In The Secret of Childhood, Dr. Montessori famously describes showing a group of children a simple lesson on how to blow their noses. At the end of the presentation, all the children start clapping. At first she is surprised, but then she realizes that she's touched upon a sensitive topic for the children and this is their way of thanking her. Prior to this lesson, the adults in the children's lives had only nagged them about their dirty noses; no one had actually shown them how to keep their noses clean. By demonstrating for them how to discretely blow their noses, Dr. Montessori "had not only treated them with justice but had enabled them to get a new standing in society." She writes, "I have come to appreciate the fact that children have a deep sense of personal dignity. Adults, as a rule, have no concept of how easily they are wounded and oppressed."
Elise came down with a cold this weekend, and when I went to the store to pick up a few "sick kid supplies" I made sure to include a special box of tissues just for her. Needless to say, Elise quickly became a expert nose blower. ;) Occasionally, she would need a gentle reminder, but for the most part, she was very conscientious about getting a tissue whenever her nose began to run. I mean really, no matter what age, who wants snot all over their face? And, for that matter, who wants to run around nagging and wiping other people's noses?! Not in this house - even the smallest achievements of independence bring everyone joy around here!
Also, if you're wondering whether Elise emptied the whole box of tissues (Believe me, I was wondering if that was going to happen, too!) - she did not. There are actually still tissues in the box as we speak. A few months ago, when Elise was still interested in emptying the wipes container multiple times a day, she had another runny-nose cold. Instead of a whole box of tissues, I just put out a few in a basket for her to use. So, if the thought of letting your little one loose on a box of tissues makes you squirm, go ahead and limit the quantity!
Here's to health and personal dignity!