Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Restorative Practice (RP) applied in my family

Restorative Practice (RP) applied in my family

An attempt of a 7 year old trying to use RP to resolve a conflict between her siblings.

Faith (2 years old) was standing at the naughty corner for hitting her brother. She has been standing there for about 5 mins. Our practice in the family is that the child standing at the naughty corner needs to be able to tell us what he/she had done wrong. Then, the child will need to apologise to the victim. The victim will need to forgive the aggressor and let the aggressor out of the naughty corner.
Emmanuel (the victim) refused to let Faith out.
Natalie (7yrs old) to Emmanuel ( 5 yrs old):
“ How do you think she is feeling now?”
“she is very sorry and must be sad now that you don’t let her out.”
“How do you think you will feel if you are standing there?”
“How would you feel if you have done something wrong, realise the mistake, apologised and yet not forgiven?”
“So what do you think you should do?”
Eventually, after what Natalie said, Emmanuel let Faith out and apologised for being insensitive.

This incident left an impression in my mind because our family have been practicing RP which is a method of resolving conflict using a series of questions ( to help with the thinking process) and dialogue to help make things right. Though dialogue in the story is not strictly RP, but it shows the attempt of Natalie to use RP to resolve a conflict between her siblings.
Though I have gone through a training on RP, my knowledge on RP is still very limited. I am still very new to this and still learning. But I find it really useful to apply within the family context. I’m just sharing how I have modified this technique and use it to resolve conflict among my children. Of course, I am a strong believer of “spare the rod and spoil your kids” as I have seen many examples of how spoilt some kids can be where parents do not believe in punishment. However, the rod is always used as the last resort and RP is always practice first. Ever since I learnt it.

So what is RP?
RP is a method which we can manage misbehaviour by helping the child to identify what had happened, the impact of their action on others and they can do to make things right.
One of the reasons my family adopts RP is because it helps to restore, repair and strengthens relationship. My hubby believes in this method too.

How RP can be applied in a family context.
When a child misbehaves, we would ask them a series of restorative questions. These questions serve to help the child think through his/her action.
Restorative Questions[1]:
Regarding Misbehaviour:
o    What happened?
o    What were you thinking of at the time?
o    What have you thought of since?
o    Who has been affected by what you have done?  In what way?
o    What do you think you need to do to make things right?

These are very simple questions, yet it guides the child through the thinking process of identifying what happened, his emotions and thoughts. It also helps the child to identify the impact of his actions on others. Finally, to come to an understanding and decide what he can do to make things right again.

As parents, we should understand that a young child may not be in full control of his emotions and actions. Therefore, it is for us to help the child to understand what has happened and how to move on.

Circle Time
Restorative Circle Time is used when a very serious conflict happens. Restorative Circle Time happens after I have addressed the aggressor using the restorative questions and the victim’s needs has been attended to as well. During this restorative Circle Time, I usually allow the aggressor to speak up first to describe what has happened. Next, I will ask the victim to talk about how he has been affected by the action of the aggressor. The aggressor will then be given a chance to explain to the victim his actions (usually not intentionally), apologised and attempt to make things right. My role as a parent is to facilitate the dialogue.

After this Restorative Circle Time, the children will have a better understanding of what happened, perspective from both sides and it strengthens relationship as the victim and aggressor can better empathize.

Circle Time can also be used to build relationship in the family.

What do we do during family circle time?
We usually take turns to talk about different issues or topic.
For examples:

  •  When the kids were younger, I put a piece of mah-jong paper at the center of the circle and told everyone to draw about what family means to them. After which, each of us will take turns to talk about what we have drawn.

  •  Also with a piece of mah-jong paper, my family has each written what we each like most about our family. Again, we took turns after that to talk about what we have written. 

  • We also talked about what makes a good friend. In these conversations, we can get a good idea of what values they are looking at when they are making friends. 

  •  Each of my family has also been given a few small piece of square paper to draw or write down our personal goals or what we want to achieve. These papers were later piece together forming a mosaic.    

  •  We have also done our individual liking and hobbies.

  • In the most recent family circle time, we went in a circle to identify the strengths of each family member. This did this as part of positive reinforcement. 

[1] http://teachingwithteachers.com/restorative-practice/

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