Standard 5.2: Relationships between children

Each child is supported to build and maintain sensitive and responsive relationships.

How Standard 5.2 contributes to quality education and care

When educators create supportive environments in which children experience mutually enjoyable, caring and respectful relationships, children respond accordingly (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 25; Framework for School Age Care, p. 24). Positive relationships provide children with the confidence and agency to explore and learn about their world. As their relationships become more complex and far-reaching over time, children’s interactions with others also help them to extend their knowledge, thinking and ability to apply what they already know in new and unfamiliar contexts. Developing effective relationships with others is a key part of children’s social development and these relationships also provide a base for children’s learning.

An important aspect of children’s ‘belonging, being and becoming’ involves them learning how their behaviours and actions affect themselves and others. By learning how to make sensible choices about their behaviour, children develop the skills to regulate their actions independently and understand the benefits of positive behaviour. When children have opportunities to contribute to decisions and participate collaboratively with others in everyday settings, they learn to live interdependently and make informed choices (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 25; Framework for School Age Care, p. 24). The service should ensure that all children are supported to develop the skills, dispositions and understandings they need to interact sensitively and empathetically with others.

Educators and co-ordinators can assist by developing:

  • positive and respectful strategies for guiding children’s behaviour, and helping children to negotiate their requests with others
  • strategies that demonstrate respect and understanding of individual children when they strive to recognise and understand why each child may behave in a certain way, or why behaviour may occur in particular circumstances or at specific times of the day.

Questions to guide reflection on practice for Standard 5.2 (for all services)

Supporting sensitive and responsive relationships

  • How do we support children to form and maintain positive relationships with others?
  • How is a culture of respect, equity and fairness encouraged in the service? How is this communicated to educators, children and families?
  • How do we model positive and respectful relationships for children?
  • How do we support children’s development and understanding of respectful relationships?
  • How do we ensure that the physical environment, program and routines are conducive to the development and maintenance of children’s interpersonal relationships?
  • How do we promote a sense of community within the service?
Family day care
  • How do we foster positive relationships between members of the educator’s family and the children being educated and cared for?

Collaborative learning

  • How do we plan the program and routines to ensure adequate time for children to engage in uninterrupted play experiences and projects of their own choosing, with a variety of peers and adults?
  • How do educators plan and create opportunities for children to collaborate with others to progress their learning?

Guiding children’s behaviour

  • How do we support individual children to engage with others in ways that are appropriate for each child’s development?
  • How do we ensure that our policies regarding interactions with children and behaviour guidance reflect current information about child development and current recognised approaches in guiding young children’s behaviour?
  • How do we reflect on our own experiences, beliefs and attitudes that may influence the way in which we guide children’s behaviour?
  • How do we support children to recognise their own emotions and those of others?
  • What opportunities do children have to make decisions about rules, expectations and consequences in relation to their own and others’ behaviour?
  • How do we manage situations where we experience challenges in guiding the behaviour of a child or a group of children?
  • How do we work with families, other professionals and support agencies to ensure that behaviour guidance strategies maintain the rights of each child to be included in the environment and program at all times? How are different expectations managed?
School age children
  • How do we meet older children’s needs for independence and greater freedom?
  • How do we ensure a consistent approach to guiding children’s behaviour between schools and the service as well as meeting the rights of children in a recreation and leisure program?
Family day care
  • How do we support educators when they are feeling stressed by, or are having difficulty coping with, a child’s behaviour?