Tuesday's Truth or Fiction: Things Children Say When Upset
So your kid just screamed, "I HATE YOU" in the middle of a restaurant. Or you're desperately trying to put the child to bed for the ninth time of the night and he is wailing profusely about being afraid. What about the kid that just mutters, "you're mean" or "that's not fair" as she stomp out of the room? Or the child who insists that school is too scary? What are we, as parent, to do with such statements?

In truth, most of it needs to be forgiven and/or dismissed. We must learn to neutralize, not engage.

Myth: What my child says when angry or scared must be true.

Fact: People will say all sorts of things when they are full of emotion.

Remember, part of raising a Montessori child is that key component of innately respecting them as human beings. Yes, they are young children, but they are still people with the full range of emotions and needs of grown-ups yet with fewer of the necessary tools. If we, with all of our adult logic and coping skills still say things we don't always mean when we are upset or afraid, how much more true is this of our children?

Parents need to learn to neutralize (not engage in) a child's arguing, especially when the child is angry. Certainly we should not respond to things they say when angry. There are several Love and Logic phrases parents can use when dealing with an angry child:
  • You seem upset. Let's talk again when you are calmer.
  • I listen to people who don't shout at me.
  • I'll listen as soon as your voice is as calm as mine.
  • I'll be glad to discuss this when respect is shown.
  • I'll be glad to discuss this with you as soon as your arguing stops.
  • You are welcome to stay in the room with us when you give up that behavior.
  • I love you too much to continue arguing about this. I am done talking.
It can be trickier to deal with a child who is scared. As parents, our heart strings are really tugged when we see our child struggling with fear. Still, it is best for children if we address their fears in a factual, understanding way without becoming emotionally involved, the goal, again, being to neutralize (not engage in) the child's fears. Parents need to defuse a fear-based problem by not making a big deal about it. Some useful phrases are:
  • I love you and would never willingly put you in a dangerous situation. You can trust me.
  • It's so sad that you're scared, but I know you will be fine.
  • I would hate for you to miss out on fun things because of your fear, but that's your choice.
Overall, successfully navigating a child's emotional outburst of anger or fear hinges on remembering that people (of all ages) say all kinds of things when they are upset. Just because our child says something does not make it true. In anger or fear, children will use an innate tool to try to make the situation better in their mind. This innate tool is manipulating the adults in their lives with their words. But we are constantly reinforcing life lessons for our children and we want them to learn to use other, more effective tools so it is paramount that we neutralize rather than engage. We want the overriding message in every situation, even those tinged with anger or fear, to be one of telling them that we believe in them to make good choices and that they are going to be okay. 

Normally when such a beautiful snow comes we are out of school or are letting school out early, but on Wednesday we had an absolutely gorgeous snow falling and kids who wanted to play...

We hope you were able to enjoy the wonder of nature as much as our kids did. Here are a few pictures and a peacful video captured by our staff.


Make sure you watch the video in full screen. For some reason, it just stirred our hearts. To us, it captured the spirit of Montessori: peace, nature, respect, calm, solitude, reflection, and much more.

Thanks to Mrs. Glendenning for being such a talented photographer!

Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail
As children get older, they need the freedom to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. Without the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, children will grow into incomplete adults who don't know how to adequately face adversity, make difficult decisions, weigh pros and cons, and adjust their attitudes and behaviors in order to be successful in situations where "try and try again" may become necessary.

The following link is a quick read written by a teacher who has too much experience with students not being allowed to fail.

Why Parents Need to Let Their Children Fail

Remember, as Montessori parents you are buying in to the philosophy that independence and self-confidence lead to better academic outputs that simple intelligence. Without these basic skills, children will always struggle to feel capable and competent.

Give them the grace to goof up and grow.

The following acrostic poem was written by one of our sixth grade students and presented by our elementary after school care group at our Commitment to Peace Celebration held on September 11, 2012.

Peace is Possible
by Allison Ousley

Peace is possible, it's
Equality. It's everyone
All together, making a

It takes love,
Sincerity and

Out with
Selishness and hate.
Show some
Integrity and kindness.
Believing is all it takes.
Leaning on the hope that
Everyone can find peace within.

My Best Teacher Ever
This essay, written by a former Montessori student, was submitted to our alumni update email. Congratulations, Mrs. Clayton, on this honor. You can truly tell how much Paxton learned from her and we are honored to have her working with our children.

Mrs. Jo Clayton was my teacher for both 4th to 5th grade. She taught me for two years simply because the school I attended had an extremely small amount of students, and therefore abnormally few teachers. Fort Smith Montessori, the school I attended, is not even ten percent of the size of Chaffin. This woman taught me all of the fundamentals for every subject, and also how to study properly. The best teacher I have ever had would undoubtedly, hands down, be Mrs. Clayton.
The deciding factor whether a student likes a teacher or not is if the subjects being taught are fun and interactive. Her class offered quite a bit of freedom, and although there were only five kids in my class, I still had an amazing time. One Friday, as a reward for having good behavior each month, she let us make a fort out of blankets! We could always talk with our peers as long as we finished our work. In keeping with the well-known Montessori teaching method, we did not have assigned desks and could freely walk around the room to do our work. I loved this element of freedom in the classroom because if I found myself sitting next to somebody I did not get along with well, I could simply get up and move somewhere else in the room.

Additionally, Ms. Clayton’s teaching style had an extremely unique twist to it, unlike any other teacher. She taught us in a hands-on manner; consequently, she was able to more easily capture her student’s imagination. For each week, she would give us a set of “works”, and we had to take the initiative to plan and decide when and in what order to complete them. This teaching strategy taught us how to plan our work, control our schedules properly, be organized, and use our time wisely. Mrs. Clayton knew us all extremely well because she talked to our parents, and to us, about personal matters. The fact that she knew us all individually helped her to teach us better because she knew how we learned and how to actually hold our attention. We had undeniably interesting power point projects and research papers which we worked on for an entire semester. We worked on these projects as teams, and the older kids helped the younger kids with creative ideas. For example, we were assigned a project on a specific country and my team chose Egypt. Throughout the semester we displayed various aspects of Egyptian life. We brought examples of Egyptian food, clothing, music, religion, and weapons. These were vivid examples that allowed us to learn about our country much better than just writing a paper about it.

Although she allowed us to have fun, she was also pretty strict and always required us to apply ourselves. She would discipline us by making us write sentences for saying mean things or acting out. Sometimes we would even have to clean the toilets! I used to be a rowdy kid and seemed to get into trouble a lot. Sometimes I would have to write so much it felt like my hand was going to fall off. She gave us little room for error on our work, but would always help us if we asked for it.

Overall, Mrs. Clayton places as my number one teacher in the way she could hold a student’s attention and develop their learning skills. She just understood me and was generally amazing, knowing the way that kids worked and how to teach them in both a fun and helpful way. I cannot thank Mrs. Clayton enough for encouraging me and giving me confidence in myself, and I will never forget her diverse way of teaching. It is true a teacher can impact a student’s life in so many ways, and Mrs. Clayton certainly made a strong impression on mine.

The Montessori School of Fort Smith | 3908 Jenny Lind Road | Fort Smith, AR 72901 | (479) 646-7225
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