It can be hard sometimes, watching your child struggling with something. Repeating the same action over and over or trying and failing at doing something like buttoning a shirt or carrying something heavy. Until they ask for help though it can be truly beneficial for both parties if the parent observes the child. Perhaps offer encouragement but ultimately not jumping in to do the action for the child. The child is then able to gain maximum effort. That moment of working at their maximum, their most effort focused on that activity and it’s so good for them.
On a physical level, reaching maximum effort is important in their developing bodies. Their muscles need to move, to carry heavy objects, they need to work and be tested. This is what Montessori meant when she put forward the notion of maximum effort; that toddlers need to find ways to challenge themselves in constructive ways.
Last year my husband was going to the gym a lot and talking to my son about the weights he was lifting. It became a hot topic in our house, with Joseph wanting to know the sizes and names of each weight. My husband bought him his own little set of differing kilos up to 1.5 and he still uses them now to challenge himself. His sister also does the same and is recognising what she can lift and that her brother can lift. They are both able to reach maximum effort. This activity can be easily be home made. For example, filling water bottles of varying sizes and then moving them from one place to another.
I think as adults and parents, we are often too quick to jump in when we see our child reach high for something, try and balance, climb, or haul around something heavy. Of course their safety is paramount but with gentle guidance they can take calculated risks and thus reach maximum effort. Ways in which we can support this is by giving them these opportunities.