Benefits of Positive Relationships in Childcare Setting


22 Nov 2017

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  • Farah Rehman


1. Recognise how positive relationships promote children’s- well -being

Building positive relationships with young children is an essential task and a foundational component of good teaching. All children grow and thrive in the context of close and dependable relationships that provide love and nurturance, security, and responsive interactions. A positive adult-child relationship built on trust, understanding, and caring will foster children’s cooperation and motivation and increase their positive outcomes at school (Webster-Stratton, 1999). Good. In a review of empirically derived risk and protective factors associated with academic and behavioural problems at the beginning of school, Huffman et al. 2000) identified that having a positive preschool experience and a warm and open relationship with their teacher or child care provider are important protective factors for young children. These protective factors operate to produce direct, ameliorative effects for children in at-risk situations (Luthar, 1993). Next, we describe some of the key ingredients for relationship building.

In order for adults to build meaningful positive relationships with children, it is essential to gain a thorough understanding of children’s preferences, interests, background, and culture. For very young children and children with special needs, this information is most often accessed by observing what children do and by speaking directly to parents and other caregivers. With this information, adults can ensure that their play with children is fun, that the content of their conversations is relevant, and those they communicate respect for children’s origins. Whenever possible, this kind of information exchange should be as reciprocal as possible. That is, adults should be sharing their own interests, likes, backgrounds, and origins with children as well. Good.

Practical Strategies for Building Positive Relationships

• Distribute interest surveys that parents fill out about their child

• Greet every child at the door by name

• Follow a child’s lead during play

• Have a conversation over snack

• Conduct home visits

• Listen to a child’s ideas and stories and be an appreciative audience

• Send positive notes home

• Provide praise and encouragement

• Share information about yourself and find something in common with the child

• Ask children to bring in family photos and give them an opportunity to share it with you and their peers

• Post children’s work

• Have a “Star” of the week who brings in special things from home and gets to share them during circle time

• Acknowledge a child’s effort

• Give compliments liberally

• Call a child’s parents to say what a great day she or he having in front of the child

• Find out what a child’s favourite book is and read it to the whole class

• Have sharing days

• Make “all about me” books and share them at circle time

• Write all of the special things about

A child on a T-shirt and let him or her wear it

• Play a game with a child

• Play outside with a child

• Ride the bus with a child

• Go to an extracurricular activity with the child

• Learn a child’s home language

• Give hugs, high fives, and thumbs up for accomplishing tasks

• Hold a child’s hand

• Call a child after a bad day and say

“I’m sorry we had a bad day today –

I know tomorrow is going to be better!”

• Tell a child how much he or she was missed

Some useful techniques that can be applied. Although this knowledge is good, I would have liked you to focus more on the benefits to children of different types of relationships, such as friendships etc.

2. Analyse the importance of the key worker system for children

“Key Worker”. The “Key Person” role is to build positive relationships with particular children, and work closely with the families of those children. The term “Key Worker” refers to a role which involves communicating with different professionals to ensure that services coordinate and to work at a more systemic, strategic level within nurseries (Elfer, Goldschmied &Selleck, 2005). The “Key Person” role is the focus of this particular study.

The current government guidance on the role of the Key Person seems to place great weight on attachment theory as a driving point for the development of positive relationships in the Early Years. It is important to note that this research does not seek to examine different “attachment types”. Rather, it seeks to understand the adults’ perceptions of their roles in Early Years settings and the ways in which they ensure positive experiences for their key children. However, attachment theory, as the theoretical foundations of this study, cannot be ignored. John Bowlby’s (1969) theory of infant attachment sought to understand the relationships between infants and their caregivers. Further developments through Bell and Ainsworth’s (1970) Strange Situation led to the identification of attachment types, and a plethora of studies researching the relationships between these types and a child’s future development. Recognition of the impact of early attachments on outcomes for children as they develop is well established as noted by Thompson (2008). Thompson looks at factors most directly associated with Bowlby’s original ideas, for example; relationship functioning, emotional regulation and social-cognitive capabilities. The conclusion is that the literature continues to support the argument that children labelled as ‘securely attached’ experience more positive outcomes in many areas. Thompson notes that the reasons behind this are not clear, though he draws attention to the literature which suggests sensitivity is an important factor. This may be quite relevant to understanding the relationships between Key Persons and children in Early Years settings, as the Key Person’s sensitivity to the child’s needs may be paramount to the dynamics of their relationship. Current guidance and the EYFS

Good points highlighted above and relevant link made to attachment theory.

As mentioned previously, attachment theory appears to have had a rather significant impact on current guidance, policies and practice with children and young people (Slater, 2007). It is also integral to the work of agencies such as Sure Start and social care. In order to understand what some practitioners may already know, it seems important to review some of the guidance that the government provides for early education settings. The Department for Education have recently changed the information on their website; however, following a recent consultation on the EYFS, there does not seem to be any indication of significant change to the Key Person role. Information previously available stated that:

• “A Key Person helps the baby or child to become familiar with the setting and

To feel confident and safe within it.

• A Key Person develops a genuine bond with children and offers a settled,

Close relationship.

• When children feel happy and secure in this way they are confident to explore and to try out new things.

• Even when children are older and can hold special people in mind for longer there is still a need for them to have a Key Person to depend on in the setting, such as their teacher or a teaching assistant.” –

These guidelines came under the “Positive Relationships” principle, and whilst online access to this has now been archived, the translation of these points in to practice formed the initial focus of this piece of research. Due to this, they have remained within this paper.

3) Explain the benefits of building positive partnership with parents for children’s learning and development.

When staff shares positive bonds with children’s families, it helps the staff feel more connected, valued, rewarded and appreciated. Staff can more easily respond to children’s needs by understanding a child’s relationship with their parents, carers and siblings. Staff can also develop a deeper understanding of how each family would like their child to be raised. Having a ‘bigger picture’ of a child’s world allows staff to relate to children in a way that makes them feel understood which then strengthens relationships. Relationships and partnerships assist staff feel confident and satisfied in their role of supporting the child and their development. Good points.

Mutual benefits of partnerships

Working together can help families and staff trust one another and communicate openly. When information is shared, families and staff are able to gain a deeper understanding of:

  1. how to work together to support children
  2. children’s behaviour at home and at the early childhood service
  3. the most effective ways to support children’s learning
  4. what children enjoy and what their strengths are resources for addressing children’s difficulties.

Interacting within a partnership helps

Families and staff:

  1. feel welcome, respected and valued
  2. feel comfortable, confident and supported in their roles
  3. feel a sense of satisfaction from the trust others place in them
  4. work through differences, allowing adults to continue working together to support children
  5. benefit from the resources, ideas and energy that others provide
  6. benefit from shared decision-making
  7. see things from other people’s perspective
  8. develop strong connections with children

9) feel a sense of satisfaction when children explore, learn and develop their skills

10) have more opportunities to discuss child development

Babies and young children learn to be strong and independent through loving and secure relationships with parents and carers and other family members such as grandparents. When children are looked after outside the home they can develop security and independence through having a key person to care for them. Children’s learning is helped when they feel safe and secure and when their parents and the people in settings they attend work together to ensure that the child’s needs are met. A key person such as a child minder provides a reassuring link with home so that children can cope with being separated from the special people in their lives.

Positive RelationshipsAttachments are the emotional bonds that are made between young children, their parents and other cares such as the Key Person. All of these important people have a special role to play in providing the right kind of environment for children where they will flourish. Environments are not just physical spaces because they are the atmosphere created through warm and caring relationships, where children are respected and valued and their well-being comes before anything else. In these environments children’s voices are listened to and they thrive socially and emotionally.

  1. Describe how to develop positive relationships within the early years setting, making reference to principles of effective communication

Effective communication with both children and parents are very important in order to develop positive relationships. Children who feel valued and who enjoy being with you will respond better. Due to this, they are likely to enjoy playing and learning and are more likely to behave well. The basis of forming a relationship with children is to consider what their needs may be and to adapt the way in which you work to meet these needs.

It is important to recognise if children have any difficulties in communication.

There are many types of difficulties that need to be recognized:

  1. Speech and language delay
  2. Dyspraxia
  3. Muscle weakness or deformity
  4. Emotional problems
  5. Ear infection
  6. Expressive difficulties
  7. Receptive difficulties
  8. Stuttering

Children who have difficulties in communication should be supported. The practioner should:

  1. Be patient
  2. Allow children time and space in which to speak
  3. Do not talk over children
  4. Do not speak for the child
  5. Do not interrupt the child
  6. Consider using pictures for children so they can communicate their needs.


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