Redirecting, a positive tool at Constantia Montessori

Redirecting is giving children options when they have the tunnel vision of ‘I Want It Now’. It is a way to avoid saying “no”, something no one really enjoys, without simply giving in to every desire, which is not sustainable. We often use this tool in our Montessori classrooms.

We see what a child is doing, we name that behavior or action, and we give options for a positive outlet:

➧ Running sure is fun! It feels great to run outside. We’re inside now. Do you remember how to walk inside? Maybe you’d like to practice walking on the line?

➧ I see how disappointed you are that your favorite work isn’t available. Can you think of something else you’d like to do, or would you like help?

➧ We’re getting ready for lunch now. Would you prefer to eat lunch now with your classmates, or would you rather eat when they go outside?

As we redirect, we move the momentum from an inappropriate or destructive direction into an appropriate, constructive direction.  When the momentum and energy is already there, simply stopping  a child is not going to make learning possible.  The need must be met, not just ignored. Redirection helps the child to express the need in a more skillful way. 

Sometimes we do some long-term redirection of a need we frequently see into a positive outlet that is always available.  For example, some children enjoy thrills. For these children, we may not wait until the child presents a dangerous, thrill-seeking behavior to introduce a redirection.  We may find an ongoing way to meet the need for excitement.  That may be through more rough-and-tumble play, providing playground equipment or other safe equipment in a specified area for the child to explore and be adventurous, or by providing more outdoor activities. 

Some children need more movement and are more wiggly. We may take this into account and redirect that energy into more music and movement activities woven into our circle time.

By redirecting behaviors, we are validating the need the child is trying to fill, but also teaching the child how to do that in an appropriate way.  With time and proper coaching, the child will learn to make that appropriate choice without our help.  That goes much further toward teaching self-control than simply yelling, “Stop”.


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