I am a mother of 3 rather "sensitive" children shall I say. Well, they screamed as babies. A lot. And, I mention this because theory and research in restorative practices (RP), connection, well-being and self-regulation have become very important to me both as a mother and a teacher.
Being "restorative" is what allows me to be a better mother; it reminds me and allows me to stay calm, which in turn helps my kids remain or return to calm. RP is not about the fear of reprisal, which Stuart Shanker (distinguished York University Professor) notes can either further hyper or hypoarouse the child. Rather, RP is about supporting and encouraging a child to think about what happened, what they were thinking/feeling at the time, who is affected and in what way and what needs to be done to make things right.. It is also about seeking the voice of the child - her/his perspective of the situation. This is particularly important. Alfie Kohn, in "It's Not What We Teach; It's What They Learn" asks us to consider:
... what happens between children and parents. When each is asked to describe some aspect of their life together, the responses are strikingly divergent. For example, a large Michigan study that focused on the extent to which children were included in family decision making turned up different results depending on whether the parents or the children were asked. (Interestingly, three other studies found that when there is some objective way to get at the truth, children’s perceptions of their parents’ behaviors are no less accurate than the parents’ reports of their own behaviors) (https://www.alfiekohn.org/article/teach-learn/)
This-having voice and autonomy- is what moves children. It is an act of dignity and respect. And, how better to raise children to treat others with dignity and respect then to model what it looks like and sounds like. Handing out gummie bears for good behaviour and refusing cupcakes to those who "misbehave" will not foster trust nor honesty nor a comfort with making mistakes (so very very critical to fostering a growth mindset). And, learning how to work with is what allows children to grow without their behaviour depending on the presence of an adult. This is one of the many ways that RP connects to Shanker and self-reg and one of the many ways that RP has helped me as a mother of 3, particularly the criers who turned out to be very stubborn, very "difficult to parent."
Being "restorative" has also helped me become a better teacher. For the last decade, I have been a trainer in restorative practices alongside working in my school board's suspension/expulsion school, as a student success teacher, and as a high school english teacher. My MEd. allowed me to rewrite the training in RP moving it away from a restorative justice approach only to a mindset and way of being that is particular to education. .
Ultimately, I am a person who believes- wholeheartedly- that it is our way of being as adults that ultimately affects the children and students we work with. Beginning from a place of vulnerability is an honest way - the best way - to begin. It offers a hand. This drives who I am as a mother and a teacher.