You and your child can easily create a Place for Peace in your home. When we create and consistently use this kind of space in our home, it can become a safe haven to truly FEEL whatever we need to feel, deeply connect with those who love us and, as well as provide an orderly environment that helps us find our calm, recover from an emotional crisis, discuss and work through tough situations, and learn about our emotions.
Experiencing Calm in order to Find your Calm
Fact is, your child must truly EXPERIENCE the feeling of calm within themselves HUNDREDS of times WITH YOU, before they can begin to regulate their own emotions to find their calm by themselves. In each Kindermusik class, we create an opportunity for finding our calm while cuddling and listening to beautiful relaxing music. It truly is beautiful to watch the cuddles and connections simply relax the mind and body of each child and their adult partner for a few moments. And parents find it is easier to continue this at home to find their calm with music, which is a perfect activity to enjoy together in your Place for Peace.
Each time you spend calm connecting moments together in this peaceful space, or your child enjoys calm moments by themselves, it strengthens the neural connections of these positive feeling with this space. Eventually, just moving into this space and getting comfortable can trigger the brain to release neurotransmitters in the brain that bring about a sense of connection, well-being, and calmness.
You may have a home that is minimally filled and easier to keep clean, or your family may include a clutterbug or two. Personally, I am a clutterbug myself because I am interested in so many things, and I believe most everything can have a purpose if I keep it around long enough… LOL.
But, our family created ONE place that we keep clean, minimal and orderly, with all the elements of an effective Peace Corner. My daughter chose a place BEHIND our favorite recliner as her defined small space in a corner without a direct view from the door, to respect her need for privacy when emotional, with a bookshelf that provides an orderly place to store these few object that we want to have handy. Further in the article, my daughter’s Peace Corner is more fully described in connection with each of the elements.
Elements to include in your Place of Peace at Home
Although each person, family, or group will create unique space that works for them, there are several elements that are the SAME.
LOCATION: A CORNER in a secluded area is most often chosen because the stable walls on two sides simply FEELS safe, and provides a lot of wall space. It can also be a space under a window to let nature be a part of that space.
WALL SPACE: Open walls are an invitation to display beautiful creations, inspiring wall hangings, and tools for learning about emotions and their regulation.
COMFORTABLE SITTING SPOT: In order to truly relax the mind, the body needs to have a comforting place to sit and/or lay down. This could be a bean bag chair, pile of pillows and blankets, or a comfy chair. Make sure you have a comfortable place to sit in here as well. This is not meant to be a place to promote sleep, even though it may occasionally occur, so it is important not to use anyone’s bed.
A TABLE or SHELF: There needs to be a place to keep a few things handy and organized
ARTWORK to DISPLAY: On the wall or in a frame on the table to showcase a creation by a family member, or an inspirational picture or saying.
What happens when you create and use a Place for Peace?
This little space you create together can be a magical place for you and your child to have more opportunities to experience the FEELING of calm, connected and curious. Each aspect of creating, using, and sharing this space prompts the brain and body to produce neurotransmitters that increase many of our most pleasant feelings, allowing our brain to be ready to regulate, and ready to learn.
The PROCESS OF CREATING this unique and personal space makes the creator feel good about DOING something. Completing each step, and seeing the final result, actually prompts the brain to release DOPAMINE, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for a FEELING of accomplishment, satisfaction and happiness. Even the ACT of STARTING and completing the first step builds confidence that you can do more. A little moment of celebration (ie. high-five) each time a child STARTS a new or challenging task is incredibly important step to developing their inner speech that will get them past that first hurdle.
Your space will include some materials for sensory experiences or creating beauty (see below). Just playing with these materials can prompt the brain to release SERATONIN, creating FEELINGS of well-being and happiness, and to release GABA, creating the FEELINGS of calm and focus.
Creating beauty together, and being in this space with someone you love prompts the brain to release OXYTOCIN, a hormone that functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain that increases the FEELING of love, trust and connection.
When your neurotransmitters are balanced and present, you feel great; everything seems to simply work and thinking is effortless. Some call this the FLOW. The MORE you can FEEL THE CALM of these neurotransmitters in balance, the more you seek out those pleasant feelings, and the easier it is to get back to it when our needs, emotions, or life circumstances take us out of balance.
Spending about 15 minutes together in this space before you proceed to a learning experience will help you create the connection, cooperation and calm focused attention that will help your child be ready to learn. Parent tip from experience: If your child is reluctant to transition to a different activity, allow your child to take one comfort item with them to support their emotional sense of security.
Using your Place of Peace to Benefit Social-Emotional Development
When your Place of Peace is established as a place where we find ourselves calm, connected and curious, it can ALSO become a place where we can learn to understand so many of the amazing emotions that grow so strong inside us, why we have these emotions, how to express them in a healthy way, and how to ask for help when needed. In your place of peace you can have books or pictures of faces with different emotions, so emotions be represented in more concrete and understandable way for children. (See below for unique resource.) Using these images, you can LABEL the emotions and discuss times in the recent past when that was felt strongly (not IN the moment of emotion… yet). Referring to these real life situations in the past, and discuss choices that may work better the next time they experience that feeling.
THEN, WHEN we are actually experiencing emotional turmoil, we have a basis for understanding how to respond to the growing feelings we have inside, interpreting them correctly, and acting to meet our needs in order to regain our balance. There are many good guides for this process, as listed below, but in our discussion here, we will focus on a variety of ways to create the space that works for you and your family.
TIME IN, not TIME OUT
Just to be clear, your Place for Peace is NOT a place for TIME OUT. It IS a place for finding peace and calm, by yourself, or with another person to connect with. It is NOT a place you SEND your child and require them to spend a set amount of time there. It IS a place where a child chooses to go for as long as they personally feel the need to be there. It IS a safe space to feel their emotions freely, find and use strategies to manage those emotions, and to have a safe space to discuss the situation with others AFTER the emotions have calmed down.
The Montessori Place of Peace at School
I started to use the term “Peace Corner” because that is what they have at Lakeland Montessori where my daughter began at 3 years old. Since she is emotionally sensitive, she was easily triggered and she quickly learned the benefits of the Peace Corner. In the youngest years of preschool, if Cora was feeling homesick, she would wander over to the Peace Corner to see pictures of our family (provided specifically for this reason), and let her be in a place she felt comfortable to be sad without being in the middle of the classroom. The defined space also helped her manage her feelings of overwhelm.
Since it was in the corner of the classroom, she could see the fun learning that continued, and soon her interest and curiosity were sparked to re-engage in the learning process. If it didn’t happen within a reasonable amount of time, a teacher came around to help her work through the process.
Soon, we created our own Peace Corner at home. I could see her emotions could swing from calm to crisis in seconds, but it took a LONG time for her to calm down. Unlike my first child, when she was filled with BIG Emotions (sadness, anger, frustration), my presence and attempts to connect through talk, touch, or hugs, were met with anger and resistance. This place for peace was the ONLY thing that worked for her. Just so you know, it does not ALWAYS work. This is just ONE strategy that I love and helped ME be a better mom for having this option.
Occasionally, I would come and check in with her… “Are you ready to have me join you, or do you need a few more moments?” If she said she needed more time, I found offering to do something for her, like add a smell to her rose, or refill her cup of water, did help soften her emotional wall most of the time, and she was more likely to have me join her and have a discussion in less time.
As she got older, there were occasions when she would get her feelings hurt at school, or have a conflict with a friend, or just be frustrated with herself when she couldn’t do things as easily as she hoped. The Peace Corner was always there for her, giving her the space and time she needed. With support from teachers, she learned to interact with others to work through their conflicts at school in a peaceful way. I was so grateful she was part of a school system that focused on peaceful resolutions to conflict.
Maria Montessori was a passionate advocate for fostering peace through the power of education, and this is woven into the entire atmosphere and curriculum based on her teachings. The PEACE CORNER and PEACE TABLE is one of the first elements in the lifelong process of finding peace within ourselves and promoting peace along with respect and cooperation in our interactions with others.
This is extended to daily community meetings in the upper grades, and even on a global scale with simulations of United Nations discussion with Middle and High School students. She truly believed that when peace is taught in an increasing progression starting in early childhood, we could bring about peace in our world and eliminate war. I’m with you Maria ! She even recognized that the process begins at home in the very youngest years, promoting experiences and opportunities for developing inner peace, such as the Peace Corner. http://ageofmontessori.org/5-practices-promoting-peace/
Creating my Daughter’s Place of Peace in our Home
In our own house, we developed my daughter’s own Peace Corner together – following her lead. And it truly became a place she CHOSE to go when she was filled with big emotions. It transformed over time, and looks totally different as a teen.
LOCATION: For my girl’s FIRST Peace Corner, at 3 years old, she chose a space behind the rocker/recliner in her room (we moved it farther from the wall),
COMFORTABLE SITTING SPOT: She chose a LARGE fluffy Ladybug pillow to sit on, a body pillow, and some favorite stuffies to hug on.
WALL SPACE: She chose to hang up pictures of her favorite people hugging her, and imaged she knew they loved. Grammy’s picture was surrounded by ladybugs and daisies. She also cut pictures out of magazines with happy cats and dogs to put on her wall.
Table or SHELF: There was a large bookshelf nearby for her objects and books. We discovered STORIES are the magical power that helps her calm, whether she is reading books or creating stories in her head.
OBJECTS FOR CALMING: a few interesting, but non-exciting items that can occupy our hands while our emotions tumble about
Beeswax modeling dough – We LOVE the feel of this and how soft it makes our hands feel. This wax starts very stiff, but softens with the warmth of our hands as we push, pull, roll and stretch in any shape we desire. We STILL use this STOCKMAR Brand for calming after high anxiety episodes, even with my mom who suffers from Alzheimers.
Sensory Bottles we made together – For her, it was all about watching the slow waves of our ocean bottle and finding the different sea creatures we placed inside.
Smooth Rocks, which were slowly replaced over time with semi-precious stone eggs that she was fascinated with collecting.
Flower Vase with a fabric flower of her choice to add beauty. Occasionally, we would add her choice of essential oil to the petals of the flower for a bit of aromatherapy.
Small CD player with choices of relaxing music & short audio stories – Other than this device, there were no other electric or electronic devices. Her favorite relaxation music was already in the CD player, so all she had to do was push play if she wanted.
Books and Pictures of children with expressions of different emotions: When 3-4 years old, she related most to pictures of real children rather than emoji faces or cartoons. It was easier to identify the possible emotions and discuss them. Her favorite book was “Copycat Faces”, with a fold out mirror to imitate what she saw.
As she got older, her fascination with Emojis broadened her awareness of more emotions. We had a little blank notebook so she could draw her own emoji faces to express how she was feeling when she was not willing to talk.
This set up was critical for helping her feel her calm BEFORE we tried using it during moments of BIG emotions. We did make some adaptations after we started using it
Bottle of Water: Through a long process of trial and error once we started using it during emotional episodes, we discovered that the FIRST THING that would ACTUALLY initiate the process of regulation for her was drinking water. As she drank, she would take deeper breaths. If I asked her to breathe deeply, she could not until after she drank some water. I took her to the store to choose her “special water bottle”, which had a cool cat design on a metal bottle with a secure top. It was filled with water and stayed on her bookshelf.
Once the place and routine was in place and connected with peace, I was amazed at how well she “GOT IT”… seriously, she really enjoyed being in this place and being calm. When she got overwhelmed, sad or upset, most of the time she would take herself there. I’ll share more about how we used this space in a different article. It does take some adjustment in the content and the approach to using it… oh, and loads of time and patience. At times, it was difficult for her to choose to leave it.
A Glimpse of other OPTIONS for a Place for Peace
I found it fascinating how many ways other families have set up a Peace for Peace around their home, and thought it would provide a greater perspective, seeing other options that might work best for your family.
Kid-Friendly Spaces in Our Home – Jamie has designed some spaces in their home that make it easier for her family, including a Peace Corner for the children. Her spaces are more formal than ours, but I like her ideas of what to include. I really like the glitter jar and stress balloons.
Aimee Wood has more clear instructions on setting up a “Peaceful Play Corner”, including a bowl of crystals and aromatherapy to help create “your own area of zen in your home”.
With her teaching background, Montessori Mama, shares how she has created her classroom’s Peace Corner. It is her picture with the starfish on the table that I chose to use because of it’s simplicity and her easy to read description.
Making a Play Garden by The Imagination Tree
You have GOT to follow the link to see this adorable, EASY way to create a place of Peace & Beauty outdoors with things you have or can easily buy. She doesn’t really talk about using it as a Peace Corner, but I could see this having the same function. Would your child prefer their peaceful place to be outdoors? Follow the photo link to learn more about this Child’s Play Garden by The Imagination Tree.
Different Versions of a Place of Peace.
There are so many ways to create a place of peace, and it is called different things by different people. I’m sure there are more, but these are ones I have learned most about. If you know it by a different name, please add it to the comments, along with who promotes it.
- Peace Corner – Montessori (resource links above)
- Safe Place – Conscious Discipline
- Calming Corner – Generation Mindful
Additional Information & Tools to Teach Social-Emotional Awareness & Develop Skills
Conscious Discipline’s SAFE PLACE at Home
Becky Bailey took the idea of a Place of Peace to be more focused on developing Social-Emotional understanding and skills, and created tools you could purchase for supporting the positive methods she promotes. The Feeling Buddies are actually a wonderful tool for a child to learn to “talk” to their big emotions. I highly recommend her books for parents, “Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline” and “Managing Emotional Mayhem”, as well as all her Conscious Discipline books, tools and trainings.
Calming Corner by Generation Mindful
Suzanne Tucker created the Time-In Tool Kit, a set of tangible, evidence-based tools and toys designed to help parents create a place and a method for teaching social-emotional development. I have not used this myself, as it was developed when my children were older. But I know families that have used these tools to promote peace in their home, and they highly recommend it. The linked article above is an excellent resource to more fully understand the difference between time-out and time-in.
A Place of Peace & Beauty for YOURSELF
When we were young moms, a friend of mine inspired me by creating her own MOM Space where she would go to find her calm. I share more about this story in my article: A Peace Corner for Mom
Follow the photo link to learn more about this Peaceful Space by Counting Coconuts.
Follow the photo link to learn more about this Peaceful Space by Montessori on a Budget. I love that they use a comfy chair too.
I would LOVE to hear how a Peace Corner develops in your home, what is in your corner, and how it is working. Please share your family’s story in the comments.
Would your child prefer their peaceful place to be outdoors? Follow the photo link to learn more about this Child’s Play Garden by The Imagination Tree.