Hello Lovely Friends,
Have you ever wondered why your toddler has all these toys but wants to carry the milk jug around, or take the broom for a walk around the house? Do you notice that your child completes task over and over again? Well, this isn’t just something that is absolutely adorable it also has a name. It is called Maximum Effort.
Children enjoy difficult work, and according to Maria Montessori maximum effort fulfills an inner drive to move. Toddlers are not meant to sit still and quietly complete an activity or stare aimlessly at a screen they are meant to move and reach maximum effort.
Maximum effort often appears naturally throughout the day, it could be taking all of the items out of a low cabinet, walking around with the adult sized broom, carrying around a backpack or purse that was left out, picking up their chair and moving it, or pushing the laundry basket around. You will see your child complete this type of work often throughout the day and you will notice that it is something that they just can’t help but do.
“Children make a great effort to conquer the environment. They do as much as they can. They apply a maximum effort.” -Maria Montessori
Far too often parents or caregivers stifle this type of work because we have this stigma that children shouldn’t touch the adult items. It is important to create an environment in your house where your child is allowed to touch adult items, and have an opportunity for maximum effort.
My daughter participates in natural maximum effort work multiple times throughout the day and it does not require any work or set up from me. She pushes the sweeper around and empties the laundry basket, she moves her tables and chairs, she carries her diaper bag around, she carries the jug we use to water the tree, she takes items out of the cabinets, she carries the milk jug, she picks up and moves large blankets, and so much more. Something she does everyday and is her favorite activity is carrying the broom around (we did get her a child-sized one as well that she absolutely loves!).
My parents are amazing with my daughter but they have more traditional ideas and often forget to allow my daughter to use “adult” items. When this happens I notice my daughter gets frustrated and not because she is being told ‘no’ but because she is unable to reach her inner need for maximum effort. They have recently become more aware of this need and are much more understanding and accepting. She often completely surprises them with what she is able to do now because I ALLOW her to.
“The greater the effort, the greater the child’s pleasure and the worse any interruption.” -Maria Montessori
Children are only unable to do the things that we do not allow them to fail at. She might not be able to successfully drink from a cup but if I allow her to try she is meeting her inner need of maximum effort and will eventually be able to do it. However, if I don’t allow her to try she will be unable to drink from a cup until I allow her to.
Unlike adults children do not take the “easy way.” They climb over instead of walking around, they reach for the cup on the top shelf instead of the one in their reach, and they will pick up the biggest and heaviest items instead of the smallest items. It is important that we allow children to “work hard” and not just hand them everything so that they are able to reach maximum effort.
What are some of the ways your child reaches maximum effort each day? Comment below.
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