Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Peace Corner

Right from the beginning, children need to be guided into reflecting on their behaviour with their siblings, peers, parents and caregivers. The process of identifying the cause that triggered a negative behaviour, her/his reaction to it, the effects it has on the others, the choices that are available and the changes that s/he is willing to make when a similar situation arises in future determines a reflective child who is able to take control of her/his emotions and be more peaceful and happy.

A simple strategy of setting up a ‘Peace Corner’ at home or in the classroom facilitates the above ideology. You can start out by involving your children to identify a space for it, decorate it with the things that are special to them or which might help them to calm down, for e.g., a favourite stuffed toy or a book. It need not be elaborate but an identified space for reflection and coming up with solutions makes the children use the skills more willingly.

When a child is in conflict with a person, ask the child to go to the peace corner and calm down. S/he may or may not want to take the person whom she had a conflict with; at these points, follow the child’s lead. You can suggest that s/he have the opponent in the peace corner, which could help to come up with a solution. Initially you will need to guide your child and ask questions like ‘what happened’, ‘why did he get upset with you’, ‘what could you have done differently’ and ‘what can we do now’ rather than providing ready answers and solutions. At this point don’t forget to empathize with the child in distress, try to understand her/his point of view too and always remember children are ego-centric and it takes its own time and much effort from the part of the child to start considering the others’ needs and emotions. Also, this dialogue should be viewed as a process of reflection rather than a conflict that gets resolved instantly by an adult.

I had set up a peace corner in a nursery classroom and I still cherish the memories of the children frequenting it with their friends, trying to talk each other into understanding their point of view and figuring out who was at fault and what could be done about it. Many a time they would invite a third child or the teacher to help them come up with solutions. It amazes me to think that a simple strategy such as this can empower children so much and go such a long way towards their social and emotional development.

Have any of you tried this with your children at home?  Do share your experiences especially if this has worked well for you. 

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