Your browser version is outdated. We recommend that you update your browser to the latest version.
USING POSITIVE LANGUAGE AT HOME | Montessori Hampstead | Nursery Hampstead


How to use positive language to get your child to do things in the right way!

If your child has attended a Montessori school then you will have heard about the concept of “Grace and Courtesies”, which are a series of simple lessons used to guide children in the social norms of the classroom environment ...but can they be applied to the home environment? and if so, how? Grace and Courtesies can sometimes be shrouded in a cloak of mystery so we thought we would give you a basic introduction.

Grace and Courtesies in a Montessori Setting

Children in a Montessori Classroom are taught new skills by being shown what to do, rather than being told what they shouldn’t do. So in essence, lessons in grace and courtesy are images of positive social behaviour. They are essential in allowing the class to run smoothly; children are shown how to walk slowly, how to step around work on the floor, how to replace work as they found it, how to watch another working without interrupting. Another important objective is to enable to children’s independence. So not only are they shown how to put on their coat and take off their shoes but if a small conflict arises with another child, they have the tools to deal with it constructively and independently. But should they not have the tools, they know how to ask for help.

This doesn’t mean they are left to their own devices completely after being shown numerous grace and courtesy lessons. The lessons continue throughout the year, often are  a result of an observed need in the classroom.

How could you apply this at home?

You walk into your child’s bedroom and toys are everywhere. Sound familiar? Instead of exclaiming, "look how messy this place is!" or "why can’t you ever tidy toys away," try and model some positive language and behaviour. Call your child in and tell them you want to show them something. Say something like, “I’m going to show you how we can make this room REALLY tidy!”.  Pick up a toy and slowly and deliberately put it back in it’s place. Then ask your child if they would like a turn. When they have put it away, comment on what they have done, “I see you put that toy away, look, now there is more space to play on the floor!”

You could also use an older sibling to help demonstrate, for example tidying away plates after dinner. Once you have eaten you can explain you’d like to show them how place their plate in the dishwasher. You demonstrate first, then ask the older sibling to do it and finally invite your toddler to have a go. You might find that they are keen to imitate their older brother or sister.

You could even use toys to help demonstrate positive behaviour through role play. This would be an effective way of introducing “please, thank you, you are welcome.”

Whatever you do, just remember it is all about modelling that positive behaviour - with minimal talking so that the child is not distracted by your words - and then allowing your child to have a turn. It may not work the first time but with time you will see the results of your efforts.

The beauty of Grace and Courtesy is that these are life long social skills that the children will be able to develop and refine throughout their childhood.

As Doctor Maria Montessori states: “A child who becomes a master of his acts through repeated exercises of grace and courtesy, and who has been encouraged by the pleasant and interesting activities in which he has been engaged, is a child filled with health and joy and remarkable for his calmness and discipline.”

If you would like to know more about lessons in Grace and Courtesy or any other aspects of a Montessori education, please email us at