Quality of interactions


Positive, responsive relationships -- what does that mean? You know, we might think, ‘Oh, of course that's what we do with all of the children,' but when you examine the kinds of interactions that teachers and parents have with their babies, often times, there seems to be a preoccupation with, ‘What activity am I doing with the child?'

That means that you're kind of listening with half an ear rather than fully attending to the child. Why? Well, because you don't just have one child that you're looking after, you've got a whole bunch of different children and you've got agendas and things that you have to follow.

What responsive, nurturing, positive relationships mean, that you're focusing as a priority on the quality of your interaction, not as a kind of secondary, ‘Oh, by the way, we've got a great program and we've got great caregiver interaction.' We want it the other way around.

We really want to dump that on its head and say, ‘First and foremost, we have really great, quality interactions with our children, and you know, we've got a pretty good program,' but what you find, is when you've got great quality interactions, then you see the child as competent and capable, and in many ways, you get out of the way of their learning because you stop thinking about, ‘I'm the teacher who has to fill this empty vessel,' and realize, ‘Oh my God! These kids are really competent and capable.'

But you need that mindset that says, ‘I'm not the teacher, I'm creating the learning environment.' And what is the essential ingredient? Warm, nurturing, responsive caregiving. So it means you don't say, ‘I'll come to you in a minute,' when a child is upset; you have screaming in your brain: ‘Wow! This is what I need to attend to now.'

So the children, then, learn how to self-regulate...you know they're upset, you help them deal with that, then, they learn, ‘Wow, I can do this…I know if I need somebody, they're there,' and they can learn how to self-regulate.