So often I look around our homes, our preschools, our nursery schools, and even our churches and wonder if we are doing what we should be doing to create the most peaceful environments in which our children can thrive. The older I get and the more I learn, it becomes so obvious that we must first live out in our own lives what we desire for our children. If we want our children to have peaceful environments in which to thrive, we have to have a lack of conflict behaviors, freedom from fear of violence, and healed interpersonal relationships. WOW! I get it — it’s up to us! The children of this world depend on the adults.
As a parent and grandparent, I ask myself what “absence of hostility” really means. Sure, it can mean no yelling or fighting in my home, but the definition also suggests that peace is the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal relationships. Research shows that 70-90% of all communication is non-verbal; and sometimes there is a deafening hostility in the silent glares, the body language of anger, and the unspoken messages that convey that we are not at peace.
We must create peaceful and secure environments in order for children to thrive, feel safe, and develop a lifelong love of learning. If children are cocooned in a loving, safe, and peaceful environment, their energy can then be focused on their natural love of learning, exploring, and experiencing new adventures. Until a child feels safe, it really doesn’t matter what gifts are placed beside him and what opportunities are in front of him. He simply cannot feel released to embrace life if he lives in an insecure, chaotic, and hostile environment. Children want to explore, they are amazing dreamers, they are filled with wonder, and they have some of the most profound observations to share with us … if we just listen.
Providing a peaceful environment does not mean there will not be conflict. When people get together, there will be conflict. My two granddaughters were with me yesterday, and they were arguing. I stood there trying to decide what to do, and the 4-year-old said, “Dee Dee, would you like for us to go sit down and work out a peaceful deal and then come back to you?” I was both stunned and relieved! They understood conflict, and they also had good conflict-resolution skills. I confess that I went around the corner but stopped to listen to how they negotiated the deal. They compromised. All’s well that ends well, right?
My challenge to you is that you are purposeful in creating peaceful environments for any child in your world. You cannot control anyone but yourself, and only you can control your responses. Commit to creating and maintaining a peaceful environment in your classroom, your home, your car … anywhere and everywhere that children are present.