Wellbeing: Relational Practices

In an article at the end of Term 1, I wrote to you about the approach we use at St. Mary’s when helping the children solve the problems and issues they have with others in the yard and in the classroom. 

This restorative approach helps children build capacity to self regulate their emotions, to take ownership of their actions and repair the harm that they have done to others.  

When relationships are adversely affected by someone’s behaviour, they need to be repaired so that harmony is restored.  Restorative or Relational Practices concentrate on repairing the harm caused and on restoring the relationship rather than focussing on the incident that caused the harm.

In this way incidents of misbehaviour provide a learning opportunity for all involved rather than punishments just being handed out. Social responsibility is fostered and the perspectives of others are taken into account when dealing with misbehaviour.

This term we have been working on making and accepting apologies, reinforcing the message that
“At St. Mary’s an apology means a change in behaviour.”, that saying sorry is not sufficient if they just go back to their old ways.  

For some children though changing behaviour is easier than for others, for a wide variety of reasons. 

When learning a new concept in maths, some get it straight away and repetition is not needed for the concept to be ingrained.  Others need to work with the concept for longer and need lots of practice to get it right.  As teachers and parents we need patience and empathy in order to work effectively with all children but especially those children who take a little longer than others to get it right. 

I read a quote by well known child psychologist Dr Louise Porter, some time ago and it has always stuck with me. I hope that you read it and get something valuable from it too.

“When children learn to walk or talk we don’t expect perfection straight up. We expect them to make mistakes, and with much encouragement and practise, we expect they will gradually improve. So why don’t we allow children the same errors when it comes to learning how to behave?

If we punish children when they cannot manage their emotions, we are punishing them for being children. Instead, adults must teach children to act thoughtfully, not punish them when they don’t.

Behavioural mistakes are inevitable, just as falling over is inevitable when a toddler is learning to walk. And just as we would not dream of punishing falls or regarding them as naughty, but instead as part and parcel of the process of learning a new skill, so a behavioural mistake should be regarded as proof that the child needs more practice.”  Dr Louise Porter

Marg Masseni
Wellbeing Leader
Deputy Principal