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Solving problems at the peace table

When children need help to resolve issues themselves, direct them to the peace table

From time to time, children fall out with siblings or friends-it may be over something simple as whose turn it is to play with a toy or over a bigger issue such as friendships. Sometimes they reach the point where they are too angry to reason with each other. This is where the peace table comes in, providing a place where the children can cool off as they follow a procedure that stops the argument in its tracks.

The peace table is usually a child-sized table with two chairs, a bell, and a flower or ornament that symbolizes peace perhaps a rose, an olive twig, or a dove. If you're short of space, two chairs together are fine, or a rug in the corner of a room, or even a particular spot on the stairs. When children are accustomed to the ritual they may go to the peace table without being prompted; at other times a parent or older sibling may see a row developing and suggest the participants try to solve their problem at the peace table.

Once at the table, a certain procedure ensues. The child who feels especially wronged places one hand on the table and her other hand on her heart, indicating that she speaks the truth, from her heart. She then looks at the other child speaks her name, and explains how she feels about what has occurred and how she would like the disagreement to be settled.

The second child then has a turn and the dialogue continues until an agreement is reached. If the children cannot manage this themselves, they may need a mediator-maybe an older sibling or a parent. If the problem is too involved, they may ask for a family council, where the whole family listens to both sides of the story.

What children learn from the peace table is that regardless of their size, age or position in the family, their point of view will be heard and they can expect to be treated fairly. The core experience they gain from these procedures is that arguments need to be settled with honesty and good will to maintain a harmonious, cooperative atmosphere at home.

It started with an argument over a toy, but now Tom and Gemma are hurting each other and are unable to listen to reason.

In an effort to resolve their dispute, Gemma and Tom each take a seat at the peace table.

Tom puts one hand on the peace table and his other hand on his heart and calmly explains to Gemma what is about her behaviour that is upsetting him.

Gemma now proceeds in the same way, placing one hand on the table and the other on her heart, and responds to what Tom has said.

When both Gemma and Tom feel that the differences between them are resolved they ring a bell together to let the rest of the family know.

( written by, anonymous)

Taking Back Childhood

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