Listen to what they have to say

Do you believe that every child is inherently good?

I do and there are many reasons for a child to display negative behaviours, some of which are explored below.

Firstly, behaviour is learnt. Whilst we as educators are teaching children and helping them to develop academically, we should also be helping them develop their own characters and behaviours. This is part of our valuable role in preparing children for adulthood and ensuring that we are sending them off to make the world a better place.

Secondly, there are numerous external factors that can impact a child to a point where it changes the way they act and behave. Below are some examples:

  • Changes to family circumstances
  • Anxiety
  • Bullying
  • Friendship issues
  • Safeguarding related concerns such as:
    • Exposure to drugs and/or alcohol
    • Exposure to criminal activity
    • Abuse
    • Insecure or unsafe home environment

Finally, children make mistakes. Adults make mistakes! It is important that we do not hold children to higher standards than adults and it is vital that we allow children to learn from their mistakes so that they can grow and develop.

The only way that we as educators can understand how to help children learn and develop their characters and behaviour is to listen to them. It seems simple doesn’t it? We listen to them when it comes to academic learning to assess their understanding, so why not when it comes to their pastoral care?

By not listening to a child, and simply punishing them, we are not getting to the root cause of the issue. There is a reason that there are always certain members of staff in a school that children open up to and make safeguarding disclosures to. It is because the child knows that they will listen and therefore are able to help them. All educators need to be prepared to spend some time talking to a child when things have not gone to plan and listen to them. They may have simply made a mistake, but likewise there could be something more serious going on which they need help with. Whatever the reason, by listening and understanding the causes, we are then in a position to help them develop and learn.

Do you always listen to what a child has to say?

Published by Matthew Domine

Secondary School Deputy Principal. Pastoral leader and music teacher.

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