Co-regulation and our approach to positive behaviour management
Co-regulation is not about temporarily calming a child down, but it’s the process through which a child develops the ability to self-regulate in the long term (and literally wires the self-regulation pathways in your child’s brain). A critical factor in this process is the presence of a reliable caregiver.
There are three categories of support that caregivers can provide to promote co-regulation:
- Warm relationship interactions, characterised by affection, respect, responsiveness, and unconditional support of their child
- A soothing and safe environment with consistent and predictable routines and expectations
- Teaching and practising self-regulation skills with your child (and yourself!)
Of course, every child experiences and expresses their feelings in different ways. Some have a calmer temperament and find it easier to regulate their feelings, while others are more restless. The way that children respond to external stimuli, like noise, light, or even touch, also differs. It’s important to find out what works best for your child and that you’re consistent in your efforts to become the anchor in the storm and provide co-regulation for your child.
Your child relies on you to be the calm and safe anchor for their dysregulated nervous systems when they are flooded with big emotions (which means their thinking brains are switched off, flooded with cortisol), and their bodies are pumping adrenalin so often need to move or lash out in fight or flight responses!
Co-regulation starts with regulating your own feelings first and then approaching your child in a calm and understanding manner. Co-regulation is essential to building self-regulation capacity and new neural pathways to strengthen part of the brain. Self-regulation skills are powerful tools that reinforce safety, soothe anxiety, and promote whole-brain integration — all of which are pivotal for a child’s mental health, healthy relationships, well-being and later success in all aspects of their lives. Co-regulation techniques are most effective when they are consistently practiced. Safety and connection are the most important needs of the brain and need to be prioritised in our interactions with our children – especially when they are showing you how out of control and stressed they feel by melting down. Through co-regulation, attunement, presence, play, and connection we can grow better brains for the next generation.
Restorative justice - repairing and restoring
Restorative Practice provides us with a value base, language, behaviours and tools to strengthen relationships with children and families and each other. Our restorative approach focuses on empowering children and families to find solutions to their problems and recognises them as experts of their own lives. Restorative Practice is about putting strong, meaningful and trusting relationships at the heart of how we work with children and families. This approach will develop a happier school where the focus is on learning not conflict.
Every member of our school community should feel safe and respected and will know that when things go wrong we will do everything we can to help put it right. A school making a conscious decision to become restorative also opens a door to a new mindset and culture shift. It focuses on positive relationships and collaborative teaching and learning, with classrooms developing as communities. It means that we all to looking at positive alternatives to reactive behaviour solutions, because we are confident that the matter is being dealt with in a clear and explicit way, understood and endorsed by all.
Restorative practice is a proactive way of working WITH people, not doing things TO them, not doing things FOR them and NOT being neglectful and doing nothing at all. We are looking to increase the opportunities for dialogue at every level, especially with you as your child’s most important people. Restorative approaches encourage people to think about how their behaviour has affected others. Our whole community is restorative and adults model the use of these approaches for our pupils which aims to develop respect, responsibility and truth telling. If your child has been upset we will try our very best to make sure they feel that it has been put right for them. If a child has done something which has caused harm to another they will have the opportunity to repair this harm in a meaningful way. This is not a ‘soft option’, it is challenging and encourages children to take accountability for their actions. Restorative approaches are part of a positive behaviour strategy, and not only used when things ‘go wrong’.