Menu

9 phrases Montessori teachers use to build resilient kids

While we can't possibly protect our children from all of the hardships and challenges life brings, we can help them cope with these difficulties.

9 phrases Montessori teachers use to build resilient kids

While we can't possibly protect our children from all of the hardships and challenges life brings, we can help them cope with these difficulties. We can help build their resilience starting at a very young age.

In its simplest form, resilience is the ability to bounce back. It is something we hope and strive to instill in our children—but at the same time, it can seem like an elusive and vague term.

According to educational research, resilience impacts social skills, a child's desire to try academically, autonomy, problem-solving skills, awareness of and reactions to injustice, and a person's sense of purpose. That's a pretty big impact.

The same research found that resilience is fostered by loving relationships, high expectations, and the chance to participate and contribute in a meaningful way. The good news is that these are all things you can work on at home—but how exactly?

Here are nine phrases Montessori teachers frequently use to help children develop this valuable quality.

1. “That was hard, but you did it!”

Directly acknowledging a child's efforts helps bring their awareness to the fact that they can do things, even when they're hard.

Whether it's swimming across the whole swimming pool, reading a book for the first time, or putting their shirt on all by themself, help your child pause and reflect on how they overcame the struggle and accomplished the goal, even if it wasn't easy.

Each time you do this, it solidifies their view as someone who can overcome obstacles and do hard things.

2. “I want you to try, but I’m right here if you get stuck.”

Your reaction to your child's struggles helps establish their identity and the way they see themselves. If you rush in too quickly to rescue them, it sends the message that you think they're not capable.

On the flip side, if they become too overwhelmed by a challenge and feel alone in the struggle, they may not want to try again in the future.

Make it clear that you expect them to try, and you think they can do it, but that if they're really stuck, you're right there to help. With this reassurance, they will be more able to focus on the task at hand and do their best work. If your little does wind up needing help, offer the least assistance possible to help them be successful.

For example, if they're trying to write their name and getting upset because it's too hard, help them remember which letter comes next instead of taking over and writing it for them.

3. “Who could you ask for help?”

Ask open-ended questions to help your child develop problem-solving skills. Each time they find a solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem on their own, they will gain greater confidence in their ability to overcome challenges.

If your child loses their teddy bear, ask where they could look before you find it for them. If their pencil breaks, ask what they could do to solve the problem instead of handing over a new one right away.

The more confidence they have in their own ability to solve problems, the more likely they are to keep their cool and recover quickly when something distressing happens.

4. “Do you remember when tying your shoes was so hard?”

Children learn new skills literally every day, but it's so easy for them to forget how far they've come. Help your child feel a sense of mastery by reminding them of all of the skills they have already figured out.

For instance, if you see them swinging happily on the swing set, remind them that just last year they were so frustrated because they didn't know how to pump their legs by themselves. Bringing attention to the progress your child has made emphasizes that their own efforts play a huge role in overcoming obstacles.

5. “I need your help.”

No matter how young your little is, find ways for them to help you, to contribute in a meaningful way. Whether it's folding laundry, cooking dinner, or putting together a new bookshelf, telling your child that you need their help sends the message that they are a valuable, capable member of the family.

This type of view of one's self goes a long way when real challenges emerge.

Showing your child that you have confidence in their ability to contribute builds confidence. Telling them you need their help is also an excellent way to model that it's okay to ask for help when you need it.

6. “Which part can I help with?”

If you see your child really struggling, ask how you can help. This gives the child such a different feeling than when an adult rushes in and rescues them, solving the problem for them.

Offering to help, and specifically letting the child decide how you can help, is a collaborative process. It lets them know that they are not in it alone, that it's okay to need help, and that even really big problems have solutions.

Showing your child that help is available when they need it will help them not freak out when problems arise.

7. “You look really upset, would you like help talking to your friend?”

Social situations offer many opportunities to practice resilience. Whether their best friend said something mean or they feel left out of a game, you can help your child process their feelings and see that there are options other than wallowing in sadness.

You don't need to solve the question of "who had it first," or elicit any apologies, just help your child tell their friend how they feel. Help to ask for what they need, whether it's a hug, a chance to play together later, or simply to express their emotions.

This type of help gives your child the tools they need to face and recover from tough social situations.

8. “That was hard for me, but I did it. I feel proud of myself.”

To children, it can seem like everything is so easy for us since so many of our struggles are silent, or happen when our children are sleeping or at school.

Try to share some of the (non-scary) challenges you face with your child and let them know what you did to adapt to the tough situation or cope with disappointment.

Try something like, "My friend had to cancel lunch today and I was so disappointed. It made me kind of sad but I'm going to see if she can have dinner with us instead."

Show that everyone, even mom and dad, faces setbacks and that there are things you can do about it to make the situation better.

9. “Do you need to take a break?”

If you watch your child carefully, you can often see when they're about to pass the limit of what they can handle. Step in and ask if they need a break.

Help fill their toolbox with things they can do when they feel overwhelmed. You might ask if they would like a drink of water, suggest they do 10 jumping jacks with you, take five deep breaths, or even go for a short walk outside.

Show your child that there are tools they can use to reset, apart from giving up or having a complete meltdown.

Resilience takes time, and so much patience, to build, but it is a quality that will serve your child well for their entire life.

You might also like:

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week? All things maternity fashion, mama.

Stowaway Collection Maternity: Modern maternity wear that shows off your bump.

Finding clothes that still make you feel like yourself isn't always easy. With their premium fabrics and universally flattering cuts, we can't get enough of the maternity wardrobe essentials from Stowaway Collection maternity. Even better? Everything from the mama/daughter duo owned brand is sewn in Long Island City, NY and they source USA-made fabric whenever possible.

Superkin: High tech, low maintenance clothing designed for mamas.

Superkin's line of focused essentials (launched by two retail execs, Miriam Williams and Tara Henning, who worked for world-class brands like Louis Vuitton, Walmart, J.Crew and Narvar) are meticulously designed with the needs of mamas in mind. Made from luxurious, wear tested fabrics and featuring thoughtful design details, they've created a line of clothing women actually want to wear. Each piece is a welcome addition to a solid maternity capsule wardrobe, making them a worthy investment from the first trimester.

Tellus Mater: Sophisticated, luxury maternity wear with a minimalist aesthetic.

Founded by a former ELLE and Marie Claire beauty editor, Tellus Mater offers high-end, sophisticated maternity looks. Designed for mamas who are looking beyond the standard ruched dresses and oversize T-shirts, the considered line features classic white blouses, tailored trousers and fitted turtlenecks with a minimalist aesthetic. Their classic feel can easily carry mamas from meetings to business dinners all in one day.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less
Shop

100 unusual + surprising baby name ideas

From Adelia to Ziggy.

Our list of 100 baby names that should be on everyone's list this year includes more choices than in the past of names that are obscure and surprising. That's because there are so many more unusual baby names coming into widespread use and baby namers have become a lot more adventurous.

Expectant parents do not need to be told to move beyond Jennifer and Jason. Their thinking about names has evolved to the point that the most useful thing we can do is offer a large menu of intriguing choices.

Here are our picks for the 100 best surprising + unusual baby names now.


Keep reading Show less
Learn + Play