Even young children can be involved in decision-making in the family and in schools. Use the course materials to illustrate how children can be involved and also why involvement might be difficult.
In this assignment I intent to examine young children and their involvement in decision-making within the family and school environment. I shall explore the importance of open and consistent communication, which will contribute to resolving problems that affect their children’s lives. I will also consider the difficulties that can arise from attempting to involve children and discuss the range of approaches for achieving a positive response, in order to promote children’s confidence and self – esteem.
Young children need their parents’ affection and attention to be stable and consistent in behaviour. However, different families are subject to constant and inevitable changes during the child’s development, such as separation of parents, moving to a new school, or a newborn brother/sister. Taking changes for granted and neglecting to discuss them can have a negative impact on a child’s daily routine, which can lead to behavioural problems. For example, Ryan found it difficult to stick to his usual bedtime, which resulted in a conflict between him and his parents.
By spending more time on a one to one basis with Ryan, his mother, Jodie, helped him settle back to routine and he gradually expressed his feelings. When his younger sister, Mia, was born, he became jealous of all the attention she received and felt left out; he worried that he might have to leave home. He also found it difficult adjusting to his new school, although he enjoyed having new friends. By listening to Ryan, Jodie was able to understand the cause of his behaviour at bedtime and managed to resolve the problem by devoting quality time with him. (Rai and Flynn 2004, p.84)
Managing young children behaviour is never easy and can take a long time, which can lead to sever reaction by the parent. For instance, on several occasions Judie and Eamon reaction to Ryan’s resistant to go to bed resulted in shouting and even threatening to smack him. (Rai and Flynn 2004, p.66). While some parent consider smacking as a way to disciplining their children, according to the NSPCC the message is clear. Smacking is never a good method of discipline, since it “gives a bad example of how to handle strong emotions” and children “may lie, or hide their feelings to avoid smacking.” Instead, the NSPCC suggests to praise and reward good behaviour with hugs and kisses and ignore bad behaviour, so it would not be repeated. (Rai and Flynn 2004, p.68, NSPCC 2002).
Talking to a child about his feelings when problems occur is challenging and may result in a negative response from the child. In cases “when the child cannot be forthcoming, parent and teachers have to become detectives…..” (Kohn, 1993, pp.237-8; bold added) (Rai and Flynn 2004, p.75) as young children have a limited experience talking and understanding their own emotions and feelings. For example, the first attempt Jodie and Eamon made trying to talk to Ryan about his behaviour at bedtime came to a dead end. As the setting, timing and agenda were inflected by his parents, Ryan did not have the opportunity to think or even understand why he found it difficult to sleep and may have felt he was about to get told off. His immediate reaction was to try and please his parents by promising to be good so he can go back to watch TV. Therefore, it is important to let the child set up the pace in the process of opening up and express his feelings. (Rai and Flynn 2004, p.77-78)
In considering the difficulties carers face while attempting to involve children, there are various approaches that can be adopted in order to achieve affective communication with children and promote their confidence and self-esteem. The three C’s approach, for example, suggested by Alfie Kohn, a writer, speaker and educator.
The first C, Content, where adults should examine their expectations from the child, which involves looking at their request from the child’s point of view and consider if the request is reasonable and the child capability of complying. Secondly, Collaboration, where the adult needs to discuss the problem with the child in order for the child to understand the affect it has on him as well as the adult. This will also give the child an opportunity to participate with finding a solution to the problem. Finally, Choice, where a child is given varied options and is able to choose the way he wants to go about resolving the problem once a decision is made. (Rai and Flynn 2004, p.70-80).
Schools also found ways to develop children’s confidence and self-esteem. For instance, at Shepherdwell First School, with the help of the teacher assistant, Helen Lasenby, Deputy Head Teacher, Ann Green, uses physical activities, such as the ‘horse’ to develop children’s abilities. By participating in the activity, children gain social and emotional skills as well as physical skills, such as, co-operation with others, co-ordination, balance, concentration, which all contributing to build children’s confidence, self-esteem and well-being. (The Understanding children 2007 DVD, band 4). Another approach that some schools use is called ‘circle time’. This approach develops the children’s communication skills with one another, as well as with other people. It helps children find words to express their feelings about different issues and gain trust and respect as their views are being heard, which contributes to problem solving and conflict resolution. (Rai and Flynn 2004, p105-106).
Attempting to involve young children in decision-making can be a difficult task to achieve. Nevertheless, as changes are part of children’s development, it is crucial for the adults to maintain an open and consistent communication, guiding them using positive approaches. By involving children they will have a better understanding of what is expected of them in different environments and how these changes will affect their lives, so they can adjust to these changes in the best possible way. Furthermore, it would also help and give children the opportunity to express their feelings and for the carer to have a better understanding of their point of view. In so doing, this will promote the children’s confidence and self-esteem and help resolve behavioural problems.
Word count: 1016
Rai, L. and Flynn, R. (2004) Understanding children, Milton Keynes, The Open University.
Understanding children (2007) DVD, The Open University.
P.75 (Kohn, 1993, pp.237-8; bold added)
P. 68 (NSPCC, 2002, Encouraging better behaviour.)
The feedback I received for my first assignment was somewhat disappointing, as I worked really hard to complete it. From the telephone tutorial and written feedback, I have learned that one of the main issues was that although I have made some good points illustrating my answer to the question, I actually failed to mention the key points of the answer.
Another issue that arose was the way I constructed my essay using unnecessary headings for each paragraph, failing to connect one paragraph to another. I also used too many references in the body of the essay, where I should have used them in the first part of the essay, as indicated in the assignment booklet.
Considering my tutor’s comments on my first assignment, I have changed the structure of my second assignment, ensuring to follow the guidelines in the assignment booklet. I have mentioned the key points of this essay and tried to connect the paragraph together. I also written the references correctly and used them where appropriate.