6 questions Montessori teachers ask when they want to change ‘bad’ behavior

"How can I change the layout of the room to address the behavior?"

6 questions Montessori teachers ask when they want to change ‘bad’ behavior

Most children go through a phase where their behavior makes us really frustrated. When this happens, the natural tendency is to react in anger or annoyance (and I've certainly done this plenty of times). That kind of reaction isn't generally that productive though, and depending on the child and their motivations, can even encourage them to continue the undesired behavior.

A big part of Montessori is observing the children and the classroom to see what is going well and what isn't, who is thriving and who needs a little extra love. In cases of "bad behavior," we take a moment to really sit and observe the child and think about what might be causing the behavior and what we might be able to do to stop it.

Here are six questions Montessori teachers ask when we want a behavior to change, and how to apply them to your own children and home.

1. “Are their basic needs met?”

Are they tired when they start biting friends? Are they hungry when they're rolling around on the floor? Do they need a reminder to use the toilet when they start to lose control of their body?

When young children feel uncomfortable, they are often unable to pinpoint what is wrong. They sometimes need us to help remind them to take care of their bodies. To determine if a child's behavior is linked to a physical need, we look for trends in when the behavior occurs. If it always happens mid-morning, they may need a snack. If they're losing control in the early afternoon, they may need to rest.

With your own child, think about the time the undesired behavior is happening. It can help to keep a little notebook or something in your phone's notes to track the behavior for a few days to see if you notice trends. Then experiment, offering a snack or a little rest or a bathroom break around that time.

2. “What are they really trying to do?”

Another thing we look for is the motivation behind a child's behavior. Are they throwing things for the sensory stimulation of watching and hearing them hit the floor? Are they trying to get some attention?

Maybe they're hitting their friend because they don't know how to problem solve verbally. Or, they're wanting to roughhouse, but don't know how to invite a friend to play.

Young children don't do things to be "bad," even if it seems like there can be no other reason. Brainstorm a few factors that might be motivating the behavior and try addressing each one. You might help them find an appropriate activity that gives similar sensory feedback, such as a rain stick instead of the sound of a box of beads hitting the floor. Or, talk them through how to respond verbally when someone takes their toy.

Simply acknowledging that the behavior has a motivation beyond annoying you can be super helpful for your peace of mind, even if you haven't found the reason yet.

3. “How can I change the layout of the room to address the behavior?”

We often say in Montessori, "You can't change the child, but you can change the environment."

One of a Montessori teacher's most important responsibilities is crafting a classroom environment that is beautiful, peaceful and conducive to concentration. This environment isn't a static thing—it must change to meet the needs of each child, and this is the same at home.

If we notice that children are often running full speed ahead through a certain part of the classroom, we might move a shelf so the space doesn't invite running. If we notice that a certain corner has become a hiding spot, we may rearrange things so that it's more visible.

At home, if your younger child is always getting into your oldest's art supplies, consider placing them on a higher shelf. If your child is always tracking mud through the house, place a little basket or shelf by the door for shoes.

4. “How can I prevent the behavior?”

It is so much easier to prevent a behavior from occurring entirely than to try to stop it once it's underway. If you really reflect on when a behavior is happening and what might be causing it, you can often prevent it.

If one child always hits another, you may need to be nearby when they're together for a while. If your child always has a meltdown when it's time to go home for a nap, you may need to try heading home a bit earlier in the morning.

It can take some trial and error, but preventing a behavior can not only make your whole day easier, but it also can prevent a child from falling into a behavioral pattern, which may go on for much longer than it needs to.

5. “Why is this bothering me?”

In some cases, like when a child is hurting others or safety is a concern, it is obvious why a behavior is upsetting us. In other instances, we may need to take a look at ourselves to figure out if the behavior is really a problem, or if it's triggering our emotions for personal reasons. It may be hard to step back and let a child figure out social situations on their own if we struggled socially.

Whining might be particularly annoying to us if we got in trouble for whining ourselves as a child. Nap time avoidance antics might frustrate us more if we are completely exhausted at that time of day.

If it's not blatantly obvious, try to think about why a behavior is so annoying to you. Even if you still want the behavior to stop, it can help you have a little more patience and empathy with your kids.

6. “How can I deepen my relationship with the child?”

More than any other question, this one is the key to helping a child change their behavior. At the end of the day, children don't listen to us because we yell loud enough or repeat something enough times—they listen to us when they feel close and connected, when they want to be with us and please us.

It can be easy to retreat when we feel like we really need a break from a behavior, but it's so much better to lean into the relationship and think about how to spend more time, or even just more quality time, with our children.

A child going through a rough patch with behavior usually needs us more than ever, even if it seems like they're trying to drive us away. Finding time for a one on one chat or a few more snuggles can help strengthen that bond that we both need so badly.

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She sought out premium, all natural fabrics and factories that shared her core values, practicing environmentally friendly manufacturing methods with fair and safe working conditions for employees. As a result, her made in the USA, gender-neutral designs check all the boxes. The sustainable, organic basics are perfect for everyday wear, family photos and any adventure in between.

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This family-owned and operated business was started by a mama who wanted out of corporate America after the birth of her son. Thoughtfully designed to mix-and-match, Lucy Lue's sustainably and ethically produced collection of modern organic baby clothes only uses fabrics that are "environmentally friendly from seed to seam." Their gorgeous, earthy tones and comfy, minimalist styles make the perfect addition to first wardrobes from birth through the first years.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

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

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.


"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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