Connections Quarterly Winter 2019 - Restorative Practices - Page 44

Parent Tips: Restorative Practices by Julie Stevens T rust is transformative—between teachers and students, parents and children, in homes, schools, and workplaces. Trust creates space for empathy, the bedrock on which moral action stands. Trust creates space to relax, focus, and learn. It is no accident that Marilyn Watson, consultant to CSEE and former program director for the Child Development Project— an extraordinarily successful effort to foster ethical, social, and intellectual development—titled her book co-authored with teacher Laura Ecken Learning to Trust: Transforming Difficult Elementary Classrooms through Developmental Discipline. Restorative practices and developmental discipline offer ways to communicate compassionately, to more deeply understand ourselves and others, and to heal emotional wounds both small and great. While building trust, let alone transformative trust, is both challenging and necessary, the strategies that follow can help. • Experiment with some form of family meeting—to check in, to reflect on what’s go- ing well (or not), and to work together devising basic rules for day-to-day household operations. Sitting together for a meal can provide a natural, relaxed setting. Children are capable of participating as soon as they can speak in sentences; siblings (and parents!) can practice respectful listening/taking turns, so all voices are heard. • Consider your views on children and parenting, and how your perspective affects your approach. Do you view kids as predisposed to be caring or self-interested and ma- nipulative? Is the aim of effective parenting to create a caring society or to advance one child’s prospects? Does genuine parental power and moral authority derive from fostering trust and modeling self-control or offering rewards, threatening punishments, “rescuing” a child from not-too-consequential consequences? • Educators working with restorative practices borrowed from court settings note that tracking precedents and patterns relating to misconduct is key to success. Pay atten- tion to what triggers or precedes disruptive behavior—from something as simple as being tired or hungry to long-standing sources of family conflict. Factor in how the social-emotional development of each family member contributes to patterns of ten- sion. Pinpoint what makes it challenging for you, your partner, or your kids to be their best self. • To encourage a positive outcome when your child makes a mistake, bolster their positive self-image to help them avoid either framing their action as “bad” or those affected as somehow deserving to be harmed. Respond to misdeeds—push- ing a friend, being caught cheating on a test, speaking disrespectfully—by attributing their behavior to the best possible motive consistent with the facts: “I don’t think you meant to really hurt your buddy,” “I wonder if you were too focused on a good grade because you thought I’d be upset.” “Maybe you spoke before you thought.” Page 42 Winter 2019 CSEE Connections