What is your greatest toddler frustration? For me it's not toilet learning, bedtime or dinner. It's walking with Otis.
Like Maria Montessori wrote a child of this age will walk from one item of interest to the next. Otis has no interest in getting from point A to point B. I have come to the realisation that I don't need to and shouldn't be carrying Otis at all anymore. But my frustration gets the better of me. As much as possible I leave time to allow for Otis's wanderings but it's getting ridiculous. I have realised that I have given him freedom without any limits. Allowing Otis to walk doesn't mean that he can walk in any direction or take any path he likes. I need to set some limits and give him some level of responsibility.
I really hit me when I read this section in Montessori from the Start (Polk Lillard and Lillard Jessen) recently.
When we are getting out of cars, crossing public parking lots and streets, or walking on busy sidewalks, it is tempting to pick young children up and carry them to our destination. We recommend a different solution. Take your child firmly by one hand so that she must walk by your side, holding your hand. A fourteen-month-old child, having just found freedom to move on her own, typically resists this constraint at first. However, she is much less likely still to be resisting at age two or three years than the child who has not been asked to walk quietly by your side earlier and to hold you hand from the beginning.
Yes, absolutely Oits needs limits and discipline now or I am going to have a two year old running amok every time we are out in public. I have used safety as an excuse to carry Otis. Like so many things Montessori, time and patience now is an investment for later. If Otis can learn to walk with limits such as staying by my side and holding my hand when necessary it's going to be better for all of us.
I have started giving Otis a choice. When we are out (typically from the car park to school/shops etc) I help him down from his car seat and hold out my hand. Usually he will take it and it's only moments later that he will let go and run off. I give him the choice he can hold my hand and walk by my side or I can carry him. Mostly he opts to hold my hand but there have been times where he will sit on the path thinking about it. I have on occasion picked him up and he has kicked his legs demanding to be put down. So I again give him a choice, hold my hand or I can carry you. Honestly I have difficultly following through with many types of discipline but in this case I'm slowly seeing results which is encouraging me to continue.
It's also a nice reminder to allow Otis to observe his surroundings. In all of our usual surroundings (school/local shops) I ensure Otis has plenty of time to sit, play where possible and watch the goings on. For example after we have crossed the road together we might pause and watch the tuck go by or watch the garbage truck empy the bins. It's reinforcing safety and that freedom comes with limits.