Use examples from your placement to show you have developed positive relationships with children. Choose three from the following and give an example of each. Your examples should include the situation, the people involved (not actual names but use actual age), what you did and how the child / children reacted.
* Adapting your behaviour to the age, needs and abilities of the child
* Make the children feel welcome and valued
* Negotiated with a child/children to meet their needs and preferences
* Involved children in decision making
* Respected confidentiality and its boundaries
* Practiced inclusive and anti-discriminatory practice
* Promoted children’s self-esteem
The relationships young children form with adults serves as a foundation for positive behaviour and strong self-esteem. Preschoolers need to feel good about themselves in order to respect others and behave in socially accepted ways. Children who feel loved and accepted for who and what they are, are more likely to trust and accept other people, thus developing positive relationships.
Negotiated with a child/children to meet their needs and preferences
Every child is different. He/she has different family backgrounds and different history from that of other children. Thus, after having observed each child, the child carer (and I) can then negotiate with them and meet their needs and preferences.
An example from my placement setting is Tom. Tom is 3 years old of age. He is one of the few 3 year olds of the nursery. According to his age he should have started kindergarten but his mother prefers that his son goes to the nursery one more year since he went to the same nursery since he was 1 year old and therefore he feels comfortable with his carer, with the setting, and with the children.
Every morning, when he enters the nursery, unlike the other children (aged 11/2 -2 years of age) he won’t do the simple jigsaws. He is more interested in finding something more complicated and challenging to stretch his skills. He prefers physical play and likes to play with the ball. When it is time for outside play, he is the first one who can’t wait to go and play, and I like very much to play “football” with him. He has great gross motor skills, even superior to that of another 3 year old child.
Unlike Tom, Ashley (aged 21/2) does not like the outdoor play. Joining in a noisy outdoor game overwhelms her. I think this is because she is still new to the nursery, she is very shy and does not have brothers or sisters and so she has never had the opportunity to mix with other children. She prefers doing jigsaw puzzles rather than playing outside. Thus, a gentle introduction to a quiet game with one or two other children, are much a better option for her. I welcomed her with jigsaw puzzles… These quiet activities (puzzles, reading stories, doing play dough together etc…) have worked and now she is much more comfortable with the other children and even with me. When I met her the first time, she would not speak to me, but now every time I arrive at the nursery we welcome each other with a great smile.
Practiced inclusive and anti-discriminatory practice
Children need to feel valued, be free from discrimination and carers have a vital role to play on their day-to-day contact with children. Children should be treated equally regardless of their race, religion or abilities, no matter what type of family they come from, what language they speak, whether they are girls or boys, whether they have a disability or if they are rich or poor. All children have equal rights to be listened and valued in the setting.
Omar, aged 2 years and 9 months, comes from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. His father is English, while his mother is African and he is dark-skinned. At home they speak to him with both languages while at the nursery he only speaks in English. At first he had difficulty in communicating with other children that are mostly maltese and I tried to help him in this. Omar did not know any words of the maltese language. With me (and even with the carer), he could speak in English and so we could communicate easily. We read together stories in English, made puzzles etc… and his response was quite good. When I read stories in maltese with him and with two other children, Omar did not pay much attention and he looked at pictures and interpreted the story in his own way.
Children who have two parents from different backgrounds may have different issues that affects the development of their identity and self-esteem from children who have parents of the same background. Language is powerful and it affects people’s perceptions. This is particularly true when using words describing children who have parents from two different backgrounds. I think that children of dual heritage need to feel that the heritage of both parents is valued and respected. Dual heritage children do not have to suffer from discrimination and stereotypes because it can be extremely damaging to the child. After all, being of dual heritage is indeed very positive.
Fortunately, Omar does not face this at the nursery. His self-esteem is not low and he is quite confident in playing with the other maltese children. Omar is beginning to understand maltese language and even says a few maltese words. Now he can even join during story-telling taught in maltese language and is involved in all activities. He shows excitement when doing some activities that include painting. He is quite artistic and is very imaginative when creating his paintings. He is developing a positive sense of his own identity.
I do not think that the world is divided into black and white people. That is not a conflict. It is divided into prejudiced and non-prejudiced people, and they can be of any colour. Carers in my placement ensure that they are not being discriminatory and that they are enabling children (particularly Omar,) to develop a strong and positive sense of identity.
Promoted children’s self esteem
Self esteem can be affected easily when children have to cope with specific difficulties such as speech and language delay or disorder. The child with speech difficulty can have countless experiences of not understanding what is being said to him or of others not understanding what he is saying, and this is what I have seen from my placement.
Nicholas aged 2 is a very bright boy, he is a very friendly but he has this speech difficulty that at times you do not understand what he is saying. There are times were I understand perfectly what he is saying, but at other times his language is full of ambiguities.
A child with his type of difficulty may have experienced people looking at him blankly, asking “what did he say?” or worst of all laughing at his speech efforts or teasing him. These experiences can lead to erode his self esteem.
Fortunately this does not occur at my placement setting. Carers are very patient to wait for him to finish what he is saying. Thus, this promotes his self esteem and does not feel uncomfortable when he is saying something. Through caring, listening, praising, reinforcing, and taking the child seriously the adult/carer can give the gift of self esteem and make the child a winner.
Every Tuesday morning when I go to the placement setting, and Nicholas arrives at he nursery, I greet him with a smile. I call him by name, I praise him when he does something right and when he does something that I do not like (for example when he throws all the toys from the table on the floor or when he does not obey certain instructions given to him by me or by the other carers), after I help him understand that I still like him as a person.
A few times, while I am playing with Nicholas he likes to communicate with me and I really listen to him. I get down on eye level with him and do not interrupt or finish his sentences. I pay attention to all the words and the feelings behind them. I believe that real listening is a lot more than just being quiet, waiting my turn to speak.
When we go playing outdoors, I spend much of my time with him and bonding really flourishes in the fresh air. I observe and listen to him while he is playing to pick up clues as to how he views himself and me, and when he fails in doing something, I encourage him to try again.
From what I have observed, Nicholas’ self esteem is quite high regardless his speech difficulty. He is very confident, has appropriate behaviour and learns many things happily.
Young children need to be appreciated, encouraged and acknowledged in order to feel accepted and comfortable with themselves. The child who is warmly welcomed as he/she comes in the door by a responsive caregiver will feel noticed, worthwhile and okay about his/her place in the group. Caregivers need to come to know the children as individuals, each with their own special values and needs. An adult who combines warmth, caring and freedom within fair and acceptable limits provides an appropriate model for effective relationships.