The role of the adult is not to pave a pathway for the child, but to make sure that the child has what they need to forge their own way. The greatest way for us to support children is to treat them with constant love, trust, and respect. It is so important that each child feels loved just as they are.
Expectations of who a child should be and what choices they should make, often greatly conflict with the direction of their inner guide. Because of this, the child may receive the message that they are not okay as they are, and as a result, they will attempt to change themselves to meet the standards of the adult. When we are able to trust the child, we can relinquish control over their life.
When the responsibility of navigating life is placed back onto the child, the child will learn to listen to and trust themselves. If we constantly make decisions for the child, the child will lose the ability to listen to their intuition and may struggle greatly when presented with choices in life. To respect the child is to acknowledge that they are their own unique individual and may make different choices than the ones we would make. A respectful adult will let the child form their own personality, make their own decisions, have their own experiences, and develop their own values.
Our goal is not to shape the child into a particular type of person, but to let the child figure out what kind of person they want to be. With constant support in the form of love, trust, and dignity, the child is given the immeasurable gift of freedom which allows them to live a life based on internal motivation versus a life guided by external forces. “To serve the children is to feel one is serving the spirit of man, a spirit which has to free itself.” (Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind, Holt, p.258)