Way back in February of last year, my friend asked me to share my Peace Corner set-up for Ella.
I was hesitant — it was literally a corner in front of a little-used hallway closet with no natural light and I didn’t think it was really anything special, but I shared it. I knew that for someone, the idea of a peace corner – or a “yes space” – would be revolutionary.
And, apparently it was a hit. Those pictures of my dimly lit hallway have been the most viewed on this website for all of 2014. It was pinned, shared on Facebook, and featured on other websites because there was something about a peace corner that resonated with people.
There are so many reasons to consider establishing a peace corner in your home – for yourself or the kids – but the biggest one for me is providing a safe space for children to collect themselves and learn how to emotionally regulate without distraction or frustration.
Each tool in our peace corner addresses a specific emotional need or EQ-developmental process.
Some of the contents of our toddler peace corner set-up have remained, while others have been replaced to further Ella’s developmental needs and also accommodate for the fact that we now have several children using that space on a daily basis!
Items that we’ve kept from the toddler peace corner:
- Cloud Kimochi, or as he is affectionately known here – “Happy Sad.”
- Kimochi Emotions (I wrote about how we use these here, and we do occasionally add them to Emotions Sensory Bins)
- Rainstick, which was originally used as a self-calming object, we now use it as a talking stick for children to work out their conflicts. Whoever is holding the talking stick gets to speak, and they take turns. (It has not been used as a weapon yet.)
- Labyrinth – such an essential part of emotional regulation and focus for us, especially with special needs children. There is a great finger labyrinth available here, but we went with a double handed labyrinth because of the special needs present in Child’s Garden Montessori
- Unbreakable hand mirrors, which were originally intended for children to use to label their emotions but have also been great for our little actor
- Buddha Board – we are never getting rid of our Buddha Board. Even as an adult, it is so calming. I have even purchased extras just in case an emotional emergency occurs and ours is unavailable – or they ever decide to stop selling them.
- Pinwheels to help with breath regulation
New Items in Our Peace Corner
- Sound-proof headphones (so that children can experience a bit of quiet despite there being other children potentially making noise)
- Sound machine – easy to operate, I’ve only included this because the children I currently have do not have the personalities when mad to try to destroy it.
- Our Yoga Mat and Yoga Cards, all of the children have been taught some basic yoga moves and I find that encouraging them to move and stretch their bodies when they are tense or angry can be incredibly releasing for them — and a better choice than a punching bag!
- Photo album of loved ones. Ella has the full album and the other children have individual photos, this is to help remind the children that they are loved and encourage them to feel connected in those disconnected moments
- Cotton balls. Not yet added, but after the success of yesterday’s cotton ball activities I will be adding some to the area for the soothing sensory experience. I currently have a child who I am afraid would try to eat them or stick them up nostrils if given access, so this is where knowing the children who are using the space is essential.
- Stethoscope, again only in Ella’s room but this time due to germs – this is to allows her to slow down and listen for her heart
- Hand drum, only in Ella’s room, I find that creating a regular beat with it and focusing on music counts (1-2-tap-1-2-tap, etc) can help focus and calm her. She’s the fourth generation of drummers in our family, so I think there’s something about it that speaks to her on another level that I’m not quite aware of.
- Sand “zen” garden – in Ella’s room because some of the other preschoolers were making a sandy mess with it and not using it for the meditative qualities. I find that the Buddha Board serves many of the same purposes
- Head tickler, again in Ella’s room more for germs’ sake, this weird-looking contraption is perfect for helping release a few endorphins when she (or I!) are most needing it. I think of it like a healthier version of my chocolate addiction.
I would love to eventually add a Tibetan singing bowl to our materials. I know that we could make the same sounds with glass or crystal, and as much as I trust the children with real materials, I think expecting them to handle a metal bowl properly is more realistic than setting out glass for gentle tapping (especially when they are feeling emotional).
As Ella gets older, setting up a peace corner might look like putting some candles and an iPod on her bookshelf, or increasing her yoga supplies or awareness. It’s a timeless concept that can be adjusted based on her needs and what works best for her personality.
Either way, having a safe space that children can retreat to or be encouraged to enter when they are feeling emotionally overwhelmed is one of my best parenting and teaching tools, and has encouraged me to look for this set-up in my own (adult) life.
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