November 14, 2016

Dear Parents and Teachers of Ancaster Montessori School Ltd. Ontario Canada.

 Thank you for your questions directed for last October 5, 2016 evening parent / teacher educational: “The Joy of Learning and Parenting”, where I met some of you. 

 For those of you who attended, I hope you “got “your questions answered from the activities and the ensuing conversation. 

I am sure you could add to the responses I have created below!

 1) Question: How do you address biting issue with a 17 month toddler”?

Answer: As you suggest your 17 month old is expressing their frustration when biting a person or toy. This is absolutely “age appropriate”. The ‘biting’ behaviour will cease as the child develops physically and emotionally. The biting will be replaced by age appropriate vocabulary and self- restraint.

Now, the child themselves is protected by being given something that is appropriate to bite (soft toy, blanket or food) when their urge to bite is apparent.

Other children in danger of being bitten must be protected from the ‘biter’. We adults we can usually sense the moment the frustration is about to be expressed with a bite. We can whisk the possible victim away before there is a chance for them to be bitten. An older child must be taught to protect themselves and to get out of the way is approached aggressively.

You can make up a funny song/chant about ‘NO BITING PEOPLE: Yes biting a carrot’, etc.

There is no need to shame or blame the 17 month old. They will grow out of this stage quickly enough.

2) Question: Discipline (ie making them listen and obey an instruction), bribing with treats to do something versus simply expecting them to do a task, learning to share and be kind with siblings/taking turns and being respectful of others needs and wants etc

Answer: The more you can create routine and rhythm and ritual in your home the more children just do what is expected of them because they know that IS what is expected. When we adults offer choice at every activity the children become ‘high maintenance’ and seem to chronically need direction.

The goal is for children to be “self- directed” within the frame of activities and behaviours that we adults are supporting.

Looking at children in the eyes. Connecting with them before telling them what you want them to do, is a way of being respectful to the child and to yourself and to the task at hand.

Creating: activity oriented stories in the moment for the child; a mood of reverence; a mood of fun with humour; singing while in moving, are all ways for the transitions from one activity to another to be joyous and special.

If you can support the movement and activities and manners of children, the unhappy punishment oriented threatening times are minimized.

Learning what children are capable at different stages of their development AND working on your own inner and outer development is an exciting and endless opportunity for growth.

A song that is calming for all ages is: “From you I receive, to you I give, Together we share, By this we live”. When you sing this over and over again, you will experience that the children are as if spellbound and any bickering is subdued. Competition is transformed into cooperation as they pass an object to each other, or take turns stroking an animal.

The book called “Stress-free Parenting in 12 Steps” by Christiane Kutik will quickly give you just the tools to support your questions, in addition to the answers I have provided.

The meaning of words can give us direction. Consider “discipline” as meaning that the child is following a teacher: Are we worthy of imitation? This is the most powerful opportunity for us to “teach” children. If our preferred method of “discipline” is to ‘punish, shame or blame’ the children with a system of ‘rewards and punishments’, we set up a cycle that is teaching them like wise. Leading and supporting children (and each other) with loving direction is an opportunity that allows us to live and learn in a joyous environment that has integrity and authenticity.

3) Question:  Discipline – our 2 year old son is tenacious, extremely active and passionate. When he is not listening we have tried redirecting him or talking to him but neither work. We have at times had to put him in his room for a timeout. He runs out after the time out and many times goes back to the same thing he was doing in the first place…help! What are some strategies to stop the behavior?

Answer: Congratulations for your son being so healthy and happy that he wants to move and express himself as he grows. He needs to experience everything and then ‘digest’ it all. What’s this for? How does it work? You are witnessing his changes every day!

Whatever you don’t want your son to explore is like a magnet for him. Removing the object of desire from sight, ‘redirecting’ your child to another space, showing him how to ‘play’ as you wish will create a ‘teaching’ opportunity that will be more long lasting than a directive or an isolating ’time out’.

Too much attention to a particular object or behaviour can create a tension between children and adults that is representative of our relationship to power and control. Using less words and using more physical guidance is appropriate for this age.

Being mindful of a child’s bed times and eating times is a logical consideration when wondering what to do when a child’s behaviour is disturbing you. Many behavioural issues can be avoided by creating a timetable for eating and sleeping that is healthy and age appropriate. This is necessary for we adults too. ‘Hungry ?Angry? Lonely? Tired ?‘: (H.A.L.T.) is a useful question at any time when we query our child’s or our own active/reactive behaviour.

‘Holding and Enfolding’ is a technique of embracing the child from his back so that your eyes are NOT meeting. As you hold him in your lap and rock him you might sing or tell a little story. As you speak or sing his heart beat will join yours and a calm mood will prevail.

4)Question: How do you deal with a whiny 4 year old? Would love some strategies to curb the behaviour (interestingly there is never any whining at school)

Answer: Often a child who is whiny to parents or at home ( but is not doing so at school)  is asking for ‘special attention’ in the transition between school and home. Looking your child in the eyes and really listening to your child, hugging them and making time to connect before rushing into separate activities can stop the tone and behaviour that we find so irritating.

We adults may have perfect social behaviour at work or with friends and then we relax into an ‘antisocial’ tone/behaviour when we get with our family of ‘loved ones’. If someone addressed our needs immediately we might not ‘unravel’ in quite the same way.

An activity like having a bath, time in nature or a chance to have a ‘mindlessness’ like playing in sand, or peeling carrots or washing dishes can dissipate the stresses or excitements of the day. What are your routines and rituals after ‘school’? Is your routine condusive to happy healthy transitions?

Your family may enjoy this story by Susan Perrow in her “Spoonful of Stories” (

Whingeing Whistler

There was once a village of happy working whistlers. They

lived together by a river in the middle of a forest and all day

long they whistled while they worked. They whistled while

they dug in their gardens. They whistled while they cleaned

their homes. They whistled while they cooked their meals.

They whistled while they played games in the forest and they

whistled while they swam in the river.

All was happy and well, until one day one of the young

whistlers decided he was not very happy with his lot in life.

Instead of whistling a happy song, he began a different kind

of song, a whingeing chant. No matter what the other villagers

did or how hard they tried to help their unhappy friend,

nothing was ever quite right. The work was too hard, the food

was not good enough, the days were too long (or too short)

and the weather was too hot (or too cold).

All day long, whingeing whistler wandered around the

village, chanting his whingeing chant:

I don’t like this and I don’t like that, I don’t want this

and I don’t want that,

I can’t do this and I can’t do that, my life is no good any


The older villagers tried to teach whingeing whistler their

most happy whistling songs. But whingeing whistler was too

busy chanting his whingeing chant to take any notice of

learning silly old happy whistling songs.

I don’t like this and I don’t like that, I don’t want this

and I don’t want that,

I can’t do this and I can’t do that, my life is no good any



The younger villagers tried to get whingeing whistler to

play games with them in the forest and swim in the river.

But whingeing whistler didn’t want to be bothered. Soon the

young ones grew tired of listening to whingeing whistler and

didn’t particularly want to play with him either. His loud

whingeing noises were polluting their forest home.

Many months passed – seasons came and went – winter

to summer, summer to winter. One cold day, all the villagers,

young and old, set out into the surrounding forest to collect

firewood for their home fires. Whingeing whistler was

lagging behind, and because he had been so busy whingeing

about the cold, he didn’t notice that the path he was following

had changed direction. Suddenly he found himself in a part

of the forest he had never been before. He continued walking,

and before he knew what was happening, he had stumbled into

a hole in the forest floor and fallen down into a deep cave.

Whingeing whistler was stranded in the dark cave, with

no way to get himself out again.

What was he to do? It was no use chanting his whingeing

chant as the other villagers would not have bothered to listen

to this.

Then, deep in his whistling memory, he heard the most

beautiful sounds. He listened and then tried to repeat them. At

first his whistling was very weak, as he had not whistled for a

long time. But the more he tried, the stronger his whistle grew.

Soon he was blowing out a song, a most beautiful whistling


The song travelled up out of the cave, and through the

forest. The song travelled all the way to where the villagers

were collecting wood. As soon as the villagers heard the

whistling call, they turned around and followed the path that

led to the cave. As they ran along the path, they whistled

together, and their stranded friend could hear them coming

closer. What a happy sound that was!

84 –

At the top of the hole, the villagers used vines from the

forest to weave into a ladder. Then they lowered the ladder

down to help their friend to climb out.

The young whistler was very happy to be back safe and

sound with his village friends. They led him home through the

forest, all whistling together.

Now that the young whistler knew how to use his

whistling voice to make such beautiful songs, he never

bothered to whinge and whine again. In fact, he made up

a happy chanting song to teach his friends. If you are ever

wandering through the forest, then listen very carefully, you

may also hear this beautiful song:

I can whistle this and I can whistle that, I enjoy this and

I enjoy that,

I can do this and I can do that, my life is so good every


5) Question: Are there any tips or strategies that we can use at home to ensure our daughter sleeps through the night in her bed? Every night, our 2 year old will come to our room at one point and want to sleep with us. If I place her in bed with us, she falls immediately back to sleep. But watch out if I try to put her back into her bed…

Answer: There are many styles of sleeping to choose from and you will have been exposed to a few already as you have told people about your nightly challenge. Perhaps you have already decided which style you would like to adopt to ensure ‘sleep hygiene’ for each member in your family.

Hold the expectation that your daughter will sleep in her own bed as that is where you know her to have the healthiest sleep (and yourselves as well). Have a calm quiet song to sing to her as you (or her father) tucks her into bed. Is her room in order ? Does it have soft colours? Are there tensions in your child’s day that may be making your daughter wakeful?

Sphagni lavender or sphagni rose oil could be rubbed on her after a warm bath before bedtime.

You could make up a story that you tell your child each day. It could be about a child (dolly) or a favourite stuffed animal going to bed and her mother (or father) singing good night to her.

Thank you for your questions and good luck. Please feel welcome to contact me further. It was delightful to work and play together as we did on October 5th 2016. I hope that you are having fun growing up with your children. 

Sincerely, Sandra Frain BCS MSC(Ed)


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