The importance of supporting a child’s social and emotional health cannot be overstated. It is in many respects key to ensuring her readiness for all endeavors — whether they be school, familial, or team-based activities. At the heart of Montessori education, our support is given to the development of the child’s self. You also play a primary role in this critical work.

Show your child respect, no matter her age, to support her growing self-concept. Treat her as the young human being she is. As she grows, your child will learn to appreciate her abilities and her value, respecting herself, and the value she adds to others.

Encourage your child to share with, observe, and support others to help develop her self-esteem. Talking about such experiences will help her internalize them, begin to perspective-take and grow her capacity to empathize with others. She will also gain an understanding of the important role she plays in defining herself, how she wants to act, and who she wants to be.

Allow your child age-appropriate and developmentally-appropriate challenges to expand her self-confidence. Essentially, don’t do for her what she can do for herself, even if your time and your patience is short. Validating those challenges and your child’s hard work will validate her.

Considering these things will help your child develop resiliency, a willingness to take risks, and a desire to seek ways to fulfill her own needs, ultimately supporting the growth of strong social and emotional health. This translates nicely into a child who can speak up and stand alongside others, all the while advocating for everyone to win.

Eric Dustman is the head of school of Montessori of Maui. If you’d like to learn more about how Montessori of Maui supports students’ social and emotional health, we invite you to visit