Tip 120: September 2018 – Supporting Peaceful Children
Website Educational Tips for Social/Emotional Development
Stanley Greenspan believed that “Critical to all childhood and adult
relationships is the ability to relate to others in a warm, trusting, and
intimate manner. Normally, this skill is in full swing by 4 to 6 months of
age when a child smiles back at a parent in a special way, or later as a
toddler when she enthusiastically shares her toy or gives a hug to other
kids. As Greenspan puts it, “without some degree of this ecstatic wooing by
at least one adult who adores her, a child may never know the powerful
intoxication of human closeness, never abandon herself to the magnetic pull
of human relationship, never see other people as full human beings like
herself, capable of feeling what she feels.” This process continues to
evolve throughout childhood.
Greenspan also felt that when children at any age experience trauma in some
form (physical, sexual, and emotional), their development is often
affected. “When trust is broken or a child’s expression of emotion is met
by distance and rejection, then a child often will retreat into an internal
world where thoughts, feelings, and sensations become disconnected and
alienated from external reality. Children with special needs, particularly
those with obvious physical or psychological abnormalities, are at an
increased risk for problems because of how he looks or acts, the best (and
natural) defense is to isolate and avoid other kids. Because most learning
occurs in the context of relationships, avoiding others results in
significant problems with all later relationships.”
Infants: Peaceful Puppets – Use soft animal puppets to describe feelings
such as happy/sad, scared/brave, and mad/angry. When infants cry, try to
use the puppets to find out why they are crying and then use the puppets to
peacefully change their mood.
Toddlers: Peace Doves – Cut out construction paper bird shapes and have the
toddlers color them. Ask them to tell you one thing they would promise to
do to bring peace to their home or classroom such as pick up toys without
being asked or comfort a child who is crying. The adult writes the “peace
promise” on the dove with a magic marker.
Preschoolers: Us Puppets – Make “us puppets” by taking a full-body
photograph of the child, print it then have the child cut it out and mount
it on a tongue depressor using glue, tape or staples. Use the puppet to act
out experiences, such as conflicts that the child has actually had or
pretend conflicts, and how they would peacefully solved the conflicts.
At the heart of a peaceful environment is helping children feel that they
are safe. Their body is safe, their feelings are safe, their thoughts, idea
and words are safe, and the things they make and the materials they use are
safe. With a sense of safety comes a sense of trust, which is as Stanley
Greenspan said, was one of the most basic developmental needs of children,
and an essential part of the foundation of social/emotional development.
If you’re doing your best, you don’t have time to worry about failure.