Mutual Respect & Making Deposits

Montessori classrooms depend upon a web of mutual respect. This culture of respect is established from the very beginning: from how the classroom is arranged and sized for the children, to how we greet each other at the start of the day, to how the adults refrain from interrupting children’s concentration. Dr. Maria Montessori emphasized that, as adults, we must have the utmost respect for children, because they are in the process of constructing themselves and are the hope for the future of humankind.

Mutual respect does require maintenance, though. As Montessorians, we are always tending to the emotional environment of the community. One way we do this is by continual practice of different ways we can show grace and courtesy toward each other and our surroundings. We do know, however, that situations arise when tensions start to run high, misunderstandings proliferate, and irritation takes over. We are all human, after all.

Because it’s helpful to have some support when things start to fray, we thought we’d share a strategy that can be helpful when frustrations, fallings-out, or rifts are on the rise.

First, imagine a scenario in which there is a small slight. A look from across the room. A forgotten request. Not listening to what is being said.

Usually, this isn’t such a big deal. However, if we are feeling particularly annoyed or frustrated by something that happened previously, we might mutter about how we can’t believe so and so did that again, how could they look at us like that, how they never pay attention, and on and on.

Our response tells a lot about how we are feeling about the other person involved.

If we find ourselves in a situation where a progression of misunderstandings and misinterpretations is causing a rupture, it can be a good time to pause and consider the concept of an emotional or relationship bank account.

Dr. Stephen R. Covey explores the idea of an emotional bank account in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, and Sean Covey introduces the relationship bank account in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens. The essence of this “bank account” is that we have different connections with the people in our lives, and between each of us we have an unseen measure of how we are connecting. We can visualize that measure as a bank account. Just like with a bank account, we can make deposits or withdrawals.