Emotional intelligence further develops when the skills developed are shared, practiced and the techniques implemented with others. The Peace Table creates a harmonious and cooperative environment at home with siblings and at school with classmates.
When the foundational skills of the Sad-Mad-Glads have been learned and successfully demonstrated, we can advance to children talking with one another about feelings.
Thursday Night Parenting Book Group. Recommended!!!!!
From the book: How to Raise an Amazing Child: The Montessori Way, Written by: Tim Seldin
When children fall out of favour with one another, ‘The Peace Table’ provides a structured ‘place with a plan’ where children can follow a healing solution-oriented process. The procedure reconnects children with their hearts while building their emotional IQ. Some life skills taught include the ability to identify, express, and manage feelings, actively listen without interrupting, practice compassion and respect, and develop successful social skills. Also, the parents, teachers and other caregivers reinforce skills such as ‘sticking up for yourself’, being tolerant, resolving conflict, and taking responsibility.
The Peace Table
The environment is prepared with a child-sized table, two chairs and a tangible symbol of peace. At Creative Therapies, our symbol is a felted white dove purchased from the Nepal Fair Trade Market. We threaded a bell on a silk ribbon to make a necklace and provide a sound (the bell’s purpose is explained below). The table provides a natural space between the two children.
The Peace Table procedure is scripted on the next page. Permission is granted to photocopy this script. The child who feels wronged, usually the one who requested the process, picks up the Peace symbol (stuffed animal, heart crystal or other representation of Peace) and places it in front of himself, indicating he will speak first and uninterrupted. He puts one hand on the table and his other over his heart, indicating he speaks the truth from the heart. He then looks at the other child, says her name, and explains: 1-how I feel, 2-what happened and 3-what I would like now to solve this peacefully. Over time the children imitate the adult’s non-verbal communication skills of eye contact, silently listening and nodding with understanding.
Then the first child gives the peace dove to the other child, indicating it is now her turn to talk, uninterrupted, explaining: 1-what emotion I am having, 2-my understanding of what happened, and 3-what I am willing to do now to solve this peacefully? If the children cannot manage this, the caregiver guides them to the degree helpful with the goal for assistance to fade out. Of course, this depends upon skill level, emotional intelligence and the conflict. If the issue is too involved, a child or adult may request a family or class meeting where everyone listens to both sides of the story.
The children’s point of view, regardless of size, age, or position in the family, is heard, respected and treated fairly. This tool is for sincere self-expression with no threats or shame.
The core experience is that arguments can be settled with goodwill to maintain a peaceful, cooperative, sincere home/classroom. The children often carry their ability to communicate their needs and resolve conflicts to places beyond The Peace Table
In Montessori’s book Education and Peace, she describes a need for positive and universal cooperation among all humans for lasting peace. ‘The Peace Table’ technique is a concrete and valuable tool for children to understand we can get along with one another through productive communication and cooperation.
- Implementation of ‘The Peace Table’
The key to successful implementation is the same as for all techniques, developing the skill through practice when not needed so the skill is more likely to be accessible when needed. For example, an adult may initially role-play to model the use of The Peace Table technique. The Peace Table is most successful when time is taken for training first, with children learning the skills before emotion is added in. The technique is meant to be quick and straightforward, with clear communication. In practising, attention is paid to the language and tone. After practice, practice, practice, The Peace Table technique is implemented when the conflict between two children arises. The adult kneels between the children to provide the support necessary. Children as young as five-years-old are developmentally ready and can benefit from ‘The Peace Table’ technique. Here is a role play for children; adults may prompt the declarations.
He places one hand on the table and the other on his heart.With eye contact, say the person’s name: Lauren
1-What emotion I am having? I’m angry.
(Feelings/Emotions – sad, angry, annoyed, afraid, nervous, worried, hurt)
2-What happened? You took my pencil without asking again.
3-What do I want now to solve this peacefully?: Next time, ask me when you want to use my pencil.
The declarations: 1.-1 am… 2.-You… 3.-Next time…
Now the peace dove is passed to the other person, indicating her turn to talk.
One hand is placed on the table, and the other on her heart.
With eye contact, respond using the person’s name: John
4-What emotions do I have? I am sorry.
(Note emotions include: sorry, embarrassed, distracted, insensitive, hurried)
5-What happened? I took your pencil without asking.
6-What am I willing to do now to solve this peacefully?: Next time, I’ll ask you if
I can borrow it first.
The declarations: 4.-I am… 5.-I… 6.-Next time…
Finally, both gently place an open hand on The Peace Table and together say: Peace.
The conflict is documented, the dove’s bell is rung, and all items are returned to their designated places.
To get started, some parents/teachers laminate the above box or have the children write out the prompts themselves to post at the Peace Table or find on the Peace Shelf (detailed on the following two pages). With maturity, teaching and practice, the language of the second prompt You… can be changed to an I-statement.
The children record the disputes, compromises and agreements in a binder for occasional review, revisiting or reworking. When responsibilities, obligations and understandings are determined, and an agreement is met, the children shake hands and ring a bell for everyone in the room to acknowledge conflict resolution and peace. By a predetermined plan, some classrooms and homes have a moment of silence while others applaud. When children have conflict, the adult may ask, Would you like to come to The Peace Table? If the response is No, encourage the child to go to the Peace Shelf and tell the child, Come to the Peace Table when you are ready and willing to solve this peacefully. If a child struggles at The Peace Table, ask, Would you like help? Or simply provide a gentle toned prompt. As children become more confident with the skills taught, they require less assistance; the adult can observe from a distance or allow the children to continue unattended. When children become accustomed to The Peace Table, they seek it out without prompting, and with ongoing success, they gain the confidence to naturally integrate ‘The Peace Table’s technique without requiring the structure of The Peace Table as often, and the language becomes their own.
–William, I felt sad when you grabbed the paintbrush from me. Please let me go first.
-Okay, John, I’m sorry. Please tell me when you’re finished.
-John: Peace. William: Peace.
-Jacob, I felt angry when you said, ‘You’re not my friend anymore.’ Please don’t say that.
-I won’t say that, Hannah. And I felt angry when you grabbed my block. Please ask first.
-Both children together: Peace.
-Heather, I felt mad when you pushed me. Please keep your hands to yourself.
-I will keep my hands to myself, Jackie. I’m sorry. In future, I’ll do my best to use my words and not touch you when I’m frustrated.
-Jackie: Peace. Heather: Peace.