2.3 Communication and Professional Relationships with Children, Young People and Adults

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Establishing a respectful, professional relationship with children and young people In order to develop a positive relationship with children and young people the Teaching Assistant needs to show they are friendly, approachable and have an interest in talking to the children they are working with. This involves showing good body language, smiling, maintaining eye contact and displaying active listening, such as responding appropriately, asking additional relevant questions and showing empathy. Also children need time to speak without the adult been distracted. When speaking to children and young people the language and tone used needs to be age appropriate, and be clear and concise. The Teaching Assistant also needs to show politeness and courtesy. This shows respect and also sets a good example to the child or young person as to how you’d expect them to speak to others. As the Teaching Assistant you need to remain professional by maintaining consistency and treating all children equally. Situations may arise where a child they know will be in the setting or the Teaching Assistant will have ‘favourites’. Conversely, there may be children with a reputation for displaying poor behaviour or who are more difficult to engage in conversation with. However, all children need to be given the opportunity to speak and also need to be spoken to in an appropriate manner.

How to behave appropriately for a child or young person’s stage of development The child’s stage of development effects how we need to behave and communicate with them. The vocabulary and tone of voice used will change as the child matures. For example the Teaching Assistant will tend to use a softer, more gentle tone with younger children. This may be especially true when dealing with poor behaviour where a calm approach is required. In this situation regard also needs to be taken to whether the child is aware that what they are doing is wrong – young children may not be familiar with school rules, may not have the same standards to adhere to at home, or may not have the skills to show empathy and feeling to someone else. When giving instructions to younger children they need to be simple, clear and concise. These instructions should be given individually as giving a lengthy list may overwhelm them and can result in important tasks being missed. Older children should be able to handle this information better and deal with more instructions in one go. Also, Burnham (2007) recognises that younger children, for example just starting school, may need more reassurance and may also need more physical contact as a result. However, with older children and young people their needs tend to revolve around requiring help to talk through issues and reflect on their thoughts.

Dealing with disagreements between children and young people When dealing with a disagreement between two children or young people it is important to remain calm and objective and not jump to any conclusions. The situation needs to be dealt with immediately rather than allowing the children to feel no action was taken. Firstly, all parties, including any eye witnesses, need to be given the opportunity to say what has happened and why. Then ask for the children’s input into what they should have done and what would have been a more appropriate way to deal with the problem. If necessary remind them of the relevant school rules and/or policies and encourage them to think how they would address a similar situation in the future. Once both parties have had their say, a fair resolution needs to be established, they need to say ‘sorry’ and then both children need to move on. It is important to be fair and consistent when dealing with disagreements and to avoid any confrontation or shouting at the pupils.

How our own behaviour can effect interaction with children and young people The way in which the Teaching Assistant behaves can impact on how the children feel and interact with them. A positive and happy...
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