Being able to build positive relationships with others helps children and young people to gain the most from being in school and is important to ensure the communication of information between children and the adults responsible for them. We are more likely to build a positive relationship with someone when we can communicate effectively with them. Effective communication is a way of setting boundaries so everyone knows what is expected of them. Most disagreements and conflicts are caused by a breakdown in communication.
Children learn how to build relationships with others by watching and copying the relationships between the adults around them. It is, therefore, important to show effective communication skills when dealing with others and take care with what we say and the way we act when in stressful situations. Children can become confused if we ask them to behave one way and then show them contradictory behaviour which can make it harder for them to understand rules and boundaries. 1. 2 It is important to communicate in a way that relates to the age and interests of the child, young person or adult.
If others are comfortable with us we are more likely to communicate effectively. The main principles of relationship building are: Showing respect – it is important to listen carefully to others’ point of view and show you are paying attention to them when they are speaking Being considerate – consider circumstances which may cause stress or upset and affect behaviour at any given time Taking time to listen – show interest in what is being said and respond appropriately, offering advice if requested Being clear – make sure any information or instructions are clear and
understood, and made in a way suitable for age / ability / circumstances 1. 3 It can be necessary to adapt your communication style depending on the situation. Professionally a more formal style may be required for meetings with colleagues and parents or other adults involved with the school. Cultural differences can also affect communication. Certain behaviours such as eye contact or physical contact, e. g. shaking hands, can be forbidden. Certain gestures or body language may be offensive in some cultures and it is important to be aware of these issues when communicating with people from these cultures. 2. 1
If children do not feel their contribution to a conversation is valued they are less likely to initiate further communication. To help them have this confidence you need to: Give them opportunity to speak and express their own opinions Make eye contact and show you are actively listening and paying attention. If you are looking away or doing something else at the same time children will feel you are not interested in what they are saying Make sure you are approachable. This can best be done by getting down to the child’s level, if they need to look up to speak to you they are more likely to feel uncomfortable.
Smiling and reacting positively to what they are saying also helps improve their confidence in you and in their communication skills Maintain the conversation by reacting and questioning. This teaches children the ‘rules’ of communication and helps them to develop an understanding of how to communicate effectively 2. 2a Children of different ages will need different levels of attention and encouragement with communication. Younger children may lack confidence and need more reassurance, both vocal and physical, to be sure of their ability to communicate one to one or in group situations.
It is important to match your language to the age of the child you are communicating with. If the words used are too difficult or unknown to the child they will have difficulty understanding and participating in the conversation. Too simplistic, in either words or delivery, and the child / young person may feel patronised and annoyed by your attempts to communicate and is much less likely to respond positively. 2. 2b Different situations will require different styles of communication. When supporting children in a classroom situation it is important to keep them focused on the lesson.
Communication needs to be firm and clear so everyone is sure of what is happening and what is expected of them. In a less formal situation such as the playground it is better to be more relaxed with the children. This can help to build their confidence in their own communication skills but it is, however, still important to maintain a clearly professional relationship with them. 2. 2c Children with communication difficulties, such as speech, language or communication impairment, emotional or cognitive difficulties will need more time and reassurance to ensure they do not feel pressured when speaking.
It is important to allow them to speak for themselves in order to build their confidence as well as their ability to communicate clearly. Where there are language or cultural differences it may be necessary to allow extra time for longer explanations of questions / instructions. Visual cues can be helpful and in some cases it may be necessary to use a translator. 2. 3 When communicating with children the main points discussed above, maintaining eye contact, responding to what they say etc. , are the same as when communicating with adults.
However, it is also important to ensure the relationship is always formal and the child understands you are their carer in the school setting. When communicating with children it is also important to be very clear in what is said and what is meant. Children need to know exactly what is expected of them so they can continue to learn from us. The vocabulary used needs to be appropriate for the children involved. Although younger children may want hugs or to hold hands it is not really appropriate and physical contact with children of any age should never be initiated by the adult.
2. 4 When communicating with other adults you need to be aware of individual needs which may make effective communication difficult. Adults with physical impairments such as hearing difficulties may need you to speak more slowly and clearly to accommodate lip reading. It may be necessary to pass on messages orally to parents who have difficulty reading written letters. When communicating face to face you should try to adapt the language you use to reflect the language used by the other person. Formal meetings will need more formal language than an informal chat. 2. 5
Most disagreements are caused by lack of communication or miscommunication with others. The longer a disagreement goes on the harder it will be to resolve, so you should try to work out the problem as quickly as possible. Where a problem has occurred due to a lack of communication the best way to deal with it is to discuss it with the person involved as soon as possible to try to work out a way forward. It is important not to ignore the problem as this can cause more problems in the future. Another common cause of disagreements is a difference in opinion and expectations.
It is important to be clear about what you expect from a situation from the start so there is no confusion. If parents have a different opinion from school in a situation it is important to explain clearly what happens in school and why it has to happen that way. Lack of confidence or pressure from outside situations can also affect the way people communicate which in turn can lead to disagreements. In this situation you need to show sensitivity and understanding in order to resolve the problem and prevent it from escalating.
It is never acceptable to get into a disagreement with a child; you should be able to manage the situation using the school’s procedures for negative behaviour. You need to explain to the child why you are disagreeing with them and once you have done this you need to follow the sanctions that are in place within the classroom and school as a whole. By descending into an argument with a child you are giving them a negative model to follow instead of teaching them how to resolve disagreements in a socially acceptable manner.
3. 1 Data Protection Act 1998 – any organisation which holds information on individuals needs to be registered with the Data Protection Commission. Information held must be: Processed fairly and lawfully Only used for the purpose for which it was gathered Adequate, relevant and not excessive Accurate and kept up to date where necessary Kept for no longer than necessary Processed in line with the individual’s rights Kept secure Not transferred outside the European Union without adequate protection
2003 Green Paper Every Child Matters leading to the Children’s Act 2004 – this was put into place to stress the importance of more integrated services and better sharing of information between professionals dealing with children & young people. 3. 2 When building relationships with children, young people and adults it is important to reassure them that any information they may give you will be kept confidential. This will give them the confidence to know they can speak to you if there is a problem. Knowing you will not pass information on unless you have to will build trust between you and the child / adult.
Breaking this trust would be detrimental to the relationship which can lead to a reluctance to share important information. 3. 3 If you are given information which leads you to suspect a child may be at risk of abuse or in some other danger it is important to pass the information on to the appropriate person within the school. You should make it clear to the person giving you the information that you are unable to keep it confidential but also that you will only pass it on to certain people and it will not be a subject of gossip within the school.