Restorative Practice: Nourishing, not Punishing

Restorative Practice is an important element of Behaviour Management because it is essential to children’s growth as young humans. Unfortunately it has sometimes been overlooked because of the time and effort it requires but I believe it is far more of a learning curve for children than punishment will ever be and will result in lasting change.

Restorative Practice is defined as “a powerful approach to promoting harmonious relationships in schools and can lead to the successful resolution of conflict and harm (Education Scotland, n.d.).” It is key to note the importance of relationships in influencing a child’s behaviour and the depth that relationships exist in – they are physical, mental and emotional. This also applies to how harm and conflict can exist as sometimes a child can act out because a key relationship for them has been affected in an emotional sense. As the responsible adults we must recognize that children are unavoidably selfish and do not always have someone’s best intentions at heart – children just want to be noticed, respected and cared for.

This is exactly why punishment is the wrong route to go down to ensure children learn from their mistakes. It does not repair relationships; it only makes them worse as children are put in isolation to ‘think about what they’ve done’. While punishment will help them understand the immorality of their actions, it will not make children feel listened to and logically the same event will happen again because the child’s relationship in question has not improved. Restorative Practice must break the repetitive cycle of punishment as “punishment has a compounding effect on children who are already dealing with multiple stress and trauma in their lives (Thorsborne and Blood, n.d.)”.

That being said, repairing relationships to avoid more conflict will be futile if some cool-off time is not given – this could be seen by the child as reflective time, a form of punishment as they may be missing out on an activity. Only when the child is ready can the teacher sit down and listen to the child, be impartial and propose solutions to satisfy both parties.

Restorative Practice will do a world of good to all children – especially children who might be used to the routine of punishment in their home life. It will help to maintain stable and postive relationships between all school members of staff and the children so a good classroom ethos will be maintained.

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