Self-Discipline (Montessori)

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Self-discipline is a key concept within the Montessori method and is closely linked to the principles of independence, self-regulation, and normalization. Maria Montessori believed that self-discipline emerges naturally in children over time when they are given the freedom to choose and engage in meaningful activities within a prepared environment[1].

Self-discipline refers to the ability of a child to control their behaviour, focus their attention, and persist in completing a task even in the face of distractions. Montessori observed that children develop self-discipline when they can concentrate on an activity for extended periods, understand and follow the rules of the environment, and correct their own mistakes[2].

Montessori Quotes on Self-Discipline

"To let the child do as he likes when he has not yet developed any powers of control is to betray the idea of freedom.

— Maria Montessori, "The Absorbent Mind"

Research and Critiques on Self-Discipline in Montessori


Montessori education has been associated with greater self-discipline among students compared to their peers in conventional schools[3]. The focus on self-discipline prepares Montessori students for lifelong learning, as it fosters self-control, persistence, and responsibility[4].


Critics argue that too much emphasis on self-discipline may suppress children's spontaneity and creativity. There are concerns that children with learning or behavioral difficulties may struggle in the Montessori environment due to the high expectation for self-discipline.

Comparison to Other Methods

Unlike many traditional education methods that enforce discipline externally through rules and punishments, the Montessori approach encourages self-discipline from within the child. This intrinsic motivation to control one's own behavior is thought to lead to better long-term outcomes, including academic success and positive social behavior[3].

Glossary of Montessori Terms

The Glossary of Montessori Terms is a collection of specific terms and vocabulary that are related to the Montessori method of education, primarily focusing on the theory and practice for children aged 3 to 6. The jargon used by Montessori educators offers a unique insight into child development as discussed by Maria Montessori. The 'Montepedia Glossary of Montessori Terms' originated from a glossary that was compiled by the late Annette Haines from the Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis, at the request of Molly O'Shaughnessy from the Montessori Centre of Minnesota. The reason behind the creation of this glossary was to supplement O'Shaughnessy's lecture at the Joint Annual Refresher Course that took place in Tampa, Florida, in February 2001.[5] The glossary has since been expanded and updated with additional 'Montessori Terms'.

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  1. Lillard, A. (2005). Montessori: The science behind the genius. Oxford University Press, USA.
  2. Lillard, A. (2013). Playful learning and Montessori education. American Journal of Play, 5(2), 157.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Lillard, A. S. (2012). Preschool children's development in classic Montessori, supplemented Montessori, and conventional programs. Journal of School Psychology, 50(3), 379-401.
  4. Lillard, A. S., & Else-Quest, N. (2007). The early years: Evaluating Montessori education. Science, 313(5795), 1893-1894.
  5. Haines, A. (2001). Glossary of Montessori Terms. Montessori Training Centre of St. Louis.