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1.1 Explain why positive relationships with children and young people are important and how these are built and maintained Why positive relationships with children and young people are important (Ref 1.1): * When children feel comfortable with us they can separate more easily from their parents. * Children are more likely to participate in play and learning activities if they are secure emotionally * when children have strong relationships, they are less likely to show unwanted behaviour as we can recognise and meet their needs * children’s language develops more quickly because they feel confident talking to us * practitioners can plan more accurately as they understand children’s developmental needs and know their interests * practitioners are able to respond to children more effectively because they can recognise their expressions and emotions.
Good relationships are really important for our wellbeing. Humans have evolved as social animals, so we have a deep, natural need to connect with other people and to belong to a social group. This sense of connection and belonging comes from good relationships with the people around us – in our families, at work or school and with our friends. There is strong evidence that when we feel we belong, we will flourish. A child’s ability to develop good relationships is an extremely important step on the path to getting the best out of his or her life. How positive relationships are built and maintained (Ref 1.1):
* Communicating effectively
Often, we focus on trying to get our point across or saying how we feel about something. However, communication is a two-way process – it involves listening as well as speaking. How we listen to others is just as important as what we say to them. But good listening is much more than staying silent when another speaks. The most effective form of listening for building good relationships is empathic listening. Empathy is about seeing things from the other person’s point of view. So, empathic listening means listening with the intention of really understanding what the other person means and how the other person feels.
We are much more likely to build good relationships with children and young people if we really make an effort to see things from their point of view. If we do this, they will feel supported and understood, and are much more likely to open up and tell us about what’s happening in their lives and how they feel. Seeing things from a child’s point of view is not easy. It means really trying to step into their shoes and imagine how a situation looks through their eyes and how it feels to them. This quote helps us understand how children (and adults!) really want to be listened to: | When I ask you to listen and you start giving advice, you have not done what I have asked. When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings. When I ask you to listen and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as it may seem. Listen! All I ask is that you listen: not talk or do – just hear me.
We also need to consider the child’s perspective if they ask us for our opinion or advice. Children are much more likely to listen to our opinion or advice if we can put it in a way that means something to them. For example, if they ask us for advice on what subjects they should study at high school, it may be best to explain why we think certain subjects would be better than others. Or it may be that they don’t want specific advice on what subjects they should do, but they want us to help them think about it so they can then make the decision more effectively themselves. So, asking probing questions like: “what do you enjoy doing most?” or “what would you like to find out more about?” or “what would you be most happy doing as a job on a daily basis?” may help them make the decision for themselves.
Effective communication is not just about speaking and listening. It is also about watching and feeling. Our body language and tone of voice actually communicate more strongly than the words we use. So, listening effectively involves tuning in closely to the other person’s body language and tone of voice as well as their words. How positive relationships are built and maintained(Ref 1.1): * Identifying and sorting out conflicts and disagreements Children, like adults will have their disagreements. As children get older their arguments can become more serious and are not simple squabbles.
In order for children and young people to trust us, it is important that we can identify difficulties and help them wherever possible to find ways through them. It is essential that children and young people perceive our way of doing this as fair. When you have a conflict with a child, there is an opportunity for learning about how to solve problems. Conflicts help children to understand that other people have different thoughts and feelings to their own. Listen to the child and try to understand their point of view, and help them to understand yours. Then together, try to think of ways to solve the problem that you are both happy with. It might take a while but it will be worth it, and will help to build your relationship.
How positive relationships are built and maintained (Ref 1.1):
* Being consistent and fair
Consistency means not just keeping behavioural boundaries in place, but also making sure that we do not have significant mood swings, e.g. one day being excitable and funny and the next being quiet and withdrawn. Children and young people rely upon us, this means that it is essential that day to day, we are consistent. Children also need to know that we will be fair with them, we will listen to what they have to say before jumping to conclusions and we will try to make sure that their needs are taken into consideration.Fairness is something that adults need as well. Parents will want to see that the way that their family is being treated is comparable with others, while staff members need to feel that their workplace is a fair one where everyone is expected to pull their weight.
* Showing respect and courtesy
Mutual respect is essential for good relationships. This means that everyone in the relationship respects each other. Respecting others means being considerate towards them, thinking about their feelings and accepting that they may have different views and opinions to you. A good relationship with a child would mean that you would respect them and they would respect you. Good long-term relationships also involve giving to others (for example: time, kindness, praise, etc.). However, just because you give, it doesn’t mean that you lose out – everyone in the relationship should give, so everyone should expect to benefit (mutual benefit). A good relationship with a child would mean that they benefit from their relationship with you and you would benefit from your relationship with them.
Children don’t have to compete with each other to gain recognition or opportunities. We all have different abilities and strengths, and if we teach children to respect each other and to see each others’ strengths, we will be helping them to see that everyone can achieve in their own way. Their own success does not have to be diminished by another child’s success. And, if you can help them to help each other to be successful, you will be helping them to build better relationships with each other. From the earliest age, we should be using markers of respect in English such as saying please and thank you. We should also speak to children and young people using voice tones that are warm and courteous.
* Valuing and respecting individuality
Good relationships can lead to great ideas, creativity and achievement. We are all different, and in good relationships, people celebrate their differences, they don’t just tolerate their differences. They may have different religious or political beliefs, different kinds of lifestyles, different personalities or different abilities. But they use this diversity and richness of experience to create better ideas and new solutions or create a great team achievement. Children, young people and other adults will all have different strengths, talents and attitudes. They will also respond in different ways. Valuing and respecting their individuality means showing that we are comfortable with their differences.
Children, especially teenagers, often want to ‘fit in’ with their peer group. Feeling comfortable with the people around us is important. But to fit in and feel comfortable with others, we don’t have to be the same as others, we just have to accept and value others. If we can make others feel accepted and valued, then they are more likely to accept and value us. Recognising others individuality is the basis of anti-bias practice. How positive relationships are built and maintained (Ref 1.1):
* Keeping promises or honouring commitments
Trusting someone else is the foundation of a good relationship. We can strengthen or weaken someone’s trust in us by what we say and do. To strengthen a relationship, it is important to think about the little things we can say or do to keep the other person’s trust – for example, we can be open and honest with them, keep our promises and try to understand their point of view. As adults who work with or care for children, you can help develop your relationships with children by doing things that build their trust in you. This will show them how to trust others and behave in a way which helps others trust them. Not keeping promises or honouring commitments mean that a child or young person will tend not to trust us again or may keep some distance from us. Build trust in your relationships with children – keep your promises, be honest and clear about what you expect from them, apologise when you make a mistake and forgive them for their mistakes. Help them understand that you expect them to do the same with you.
* Monitoring the impact of your own behaviour on others
Part of working professionally with children, young people and their families is to monitor and then, if necessary, adapt our own behaviour. You may notice that a child moves slightly back when you talk to them. Noticing this is important as it might be a sign that the child finds you too overpowering and so you will need to alter your style slightly to be gentler.
* Keeping confidentiality as appropriate
Confidential information is information which should be shared only with people who have a right to have it, for example, your lead practitioner, supervisor or manager. Confidentiality is essentially about trust and respect. Parents and other professionals will often give you confidential information on the basis that it will be helpful to you when you work. They do so trusting that this information will not be passed on to others, to become the source of gossip or interest. If you breach confidentiality, you will break that trust. When trust between you and others breaks down, so too does the relationship. While we can never promise to maintain confidentiality if children reveal that they have been abused, or that there is a danger that they may be harmed, keeping confidentiality is an important part of working with children, young people and others.
1.3 Evaluate own effectiveness in building relationships with children or young people
The wonderful thing about children and young people is that they are all different. We need to adapt the way in which we approach and communicate with them according to their age/stage of development, needs and personality. For each child or young person that I work with, I consider the strength of the relationship, they have with me. I use the following pointers to identify how well the relationship is being built:
Does the child or young person seek me out soon after coming into my setting? Does the child or young person like to tell me when they are leaving the setting?
* Seeking help
Does the child or young person look for me if he/she needs help or if they have had an accident?
* Smiling and eye contact
Does the child or young person often make eye contact with me or smile while I am with them?
* Looking for company
Does the child or young person look for me to get involved in his/her playtime, in chat or in an activity?
Does the child or young person miss me when I am not in the room (babies and toddlers) or if I am off for a few days?
Ref 2.1 Explain why positive relationships with people involved in the care of children and young people are important
The professional and positive relationships we develop with people involved in the care of children and young people will ensure that good communication is possible in order to support the needs of children and their families. It is important to have these positive relationships as if we don’t there is a danger that information may be withheld or passed on incorrectly. This has to be taken seriously as, over the past few years, some child deaths have occurred because people caring for children have not worked properly together. An example of this is: In 2000 in London, an eight-year-old Ivorian Victoria Adjo Climbié (2 November 1991 – 25 February 2000) was tortured and murdered by her guardians.
Her death led to a public inquiry and produced major changes in child protection policies in England. After Climbié’s death, the parties involved in her case were widely criticised. A public inquiry, headed by Lord Laming was ordered. It discovered numerous instances where Climbié could have been saved and noted that many of the organisations involved in her care were badly run and did not communicate with one another. Where parents are concerned it is essential that we build positive relationships so that we can work closely together with them to benefit the child in a variety of ways. This should include settling the child in, sharing developmental information and also learning about children’s interest.
Benefits of positive relationships:
Information can be shared quickly between adults
Children are given consistent care
Skills and ideas can be shared
Children’s welfare can be properly monitored
Children’s needs and interests are identified
Plans for children’s care and education are more effective
People involved in the care of children and young people are
Organisational managers and supervisors
Official visitors e.g. inspectorate for the UK home nation (Ofsted) Other Visitors, Colleagues from other agencies and services (Early years)