Maria Montessori wrote that the the center of the child can not be touched and that we, as the adults in his life can only affect the periphery. In my first Montessori training course my trainer drew a picture as she explained this.
She wrote the word child, drew a circle around it, then she drew a larger circle around that and wrote periphery along the edge of the circle.
I think of this image often when I have conversations with my children. Especially during frustrating conversations.
I think about their ‘center’. I consider this to be the base of their personality. It’s untouchable. This is the person who entered the world at their birth. Everything else has been in the periphery. Their experiences shed light and give direction to their unfolding center.
When I am having a challenging conversation with one of my children, I have to think, “What direction am I offering to that center? How am I helping to guide this unfolding person?” Yelling is not helpful. Ultimatums and intimidation will not give positive guidance but will instill fear. These are moments of growth and development for my child. They are not about me. When my child challenges our family’s rules, it’s not a personal assault on me. It is his active pursuing and learning about a culture’s expectations. It is how he builds himself and learns the value of being true to his own center. I offer guidance…moral, social, emotional, intellectual guidance. I must be my best self in order for him to see his reflection in me. Not so that he will grow up to be just like me, but so he will grow up to be his own best self with a clear understanding of the world around him.