A Peaceful Time-Out Alternative
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A few years ago, realizing that “time out” was not making much of a difference in some concerning behaviors of my then-three-year-old, we were inspired by the concept of the Montessori Peace Table. Our adapted version are the Peace Flowers, which we use in our house when someone has been hurtful, disrespectful or otherwise unkind to another family member and is unable to resolve the issue in the moment. The idea is to go to a quiet place, calm down, and then make amends to the person they hurt, by offering a flower from the vase.
I like the idea of “making it right”. This gives “I’m sorry.” a little more substance.
Here’s an example of how we use it: My four year old has repeatedly taken toys from her younger brother. Mom has intervened several times, requesting that she give the toys back and not take them from her brother again. The situation has escalated to where the four year old is yelling or refusing to listen to Mom.
She is directed to a quiet spot in our house (I always try to give her a couple of choices about that), to calm down. When she is calm, we talk about what happened. She can then “make it right” with her brother and/or Mom by offering a flower, which she usually comes up with on her own. Or she can, and often does, choose to draw a picture, and give that as a token. She can also offer to do something nice, like help her brother put away his toys or get him a snack (which also helps Mom).
I’ve also given a Peace Flower when I’ve lost my temper or my patience with one of my kids. Demonstrating the “make it right” principle in this way has proved very effective, rather than simply telling them that this is what they must do when they’ve made poor choices. It shows that we all make mistakes, even Mom.
Things are far from peaceful in our house much of the time. Chaos and loudness are in plentiful supply. But this is one thing that helps us stop, breath and take the time to make amends.