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Support From Deputy - Touching Children


Guest terrydoo73
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Guest terrydoo73

I don't feel I am getting the support from my Deputy and cannot stand up to her. Today she pulled me up for touching a child on both arms and asking the child to listen to me. She feels that if a parent walked in she would be embarressed. I did clear the touching with my local registering early years authority. I was told by this person that it was OK to say no to a child if you felt they were in danger ie hurting another child, not respecting your authority etc and also to gain their attention you can touch a child. I asked the early years authority to reiterate this to the Deputy and she did it verbally on that occasion when she visited in February but my Deputy is still of the opinion I am in the wrong. In her previous setting it was never done as you didn't want someone to walk in and take you up for assault.

 

Am I totally in the wrong? We have children who are just turned 3, have never been in a formal playgroup setting before and are very much determined not to listen or respect what you say.

 

I have been in a childminding setting for the past 8 years and have had to ask opinions of early years authority staff for similar situations as I never usually would have touched a child but they always said if you feel it is necessary and can justify your actions then it is acceptable. Our policies do say (and parents sign them) to say we will use methods to gain a child's understanding of playgroups rules and the leaders assistance in communication.

 

Can anyone provide help please.

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I agree there are times when you need to gain a childs attention and as far as I'm aware there is no rule rule against holding a child in the way you describe. But it must be done gently, on their level and in a non aggresive way, more guiding the child to you rather than holding them. I also remember being told that in some cultures its considered rude for a child to look an adult in the eye while being told off, something I've always tried to bear in mind.

Would it benefit you and your deputy to go on a behaviour management course together? It might help you both decide what you consider challenging behaviour and how best to approach it. I know we all have different levels of what is acceptable and at home thats fine, but in the setting we should all be consistant in our approach.

I'd also look at what you're asking the children to listen to what you mean by respect. Are you asking the group to do something and one or two of them are ignoring you or are you asking an individual to do something? You need strategies that will help the children to learn that wont lead to confrontation, because they always win the battle if not the war.

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Hi, there is various guidance about this (for schools it always used to be circular 10/98 but that seems to have gone 'missing' with the new government).

 

Basically, school teachers have the various powers you describe - termed as 'the use of reasonable force' but obviously with a 3 year old that means a very gentle touch. However, it's very unclear about whether these powers apply to preschool staff. If you are in a maintained setting, you're safe to assume they do I would think.

 

I would certainly never restrain a child of this age - yes, speak gently and briefly to them but don't hold onto them for any longer than is vital for their own or others' safety.

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Guest terrydoo73

I had asked the particular child to listen naming her as I did so but each time she turned her head away from me. I then reached across and touched her on both arms near the elbow, not forcible but just so that she would look directly at me - otherwise I would have had to get up and move across to be in front of her and I was only sitting beside her at the time.

 

My Deputy believes you should not raise your voice but continually name the child and say "are you listening to me, in playgroup we listen to our leaders" and eventually the child will pay heed.

 

We have both been on Behaviour Management courses but they did not mention this idea of touching - it was very much hands off if you understand what I mean unless for a cuddle.

 

Immediately after this incident when my Deputy had moved away out of the room to get something a child burst into tears. The Deputy on coming back into the room assumed this was because of my reaction to the other children not doing as I asked but in fact it was something totally unrelated - one of the children had spilled something on the floor and a volunteer was bending down to pick it up moving the childs chair in the meantime. The child who had been sitting in the chair started to cry because she thought she had lost her chair - thankfully the volunteer backed me up on this but it was mentioned several times to me throughout the next hour - the Deputy felt that this was not the correct version of events.

 

I have been told by my deputy that she wants consistency but for her this means - no touching the child! Am I the leader or is she I ask? Or am I overstepping my mark here. She even had me ring up my local early years authority after the session to get clearance but I couldn't get speaking to her directly!

 

I must go to bed now and rhyme it into myself no touching the child to get attention just repeat after me are you listening??

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what does 'soft touch' mean....i cant imagine (it doesnt for me) this works when a child is having a violent episode and is kicking the life out of anyone in their path...i have three children such as these and although routines, behaviour systems and rewards, as well as intervention b4 boiling points (you get to know what sets them off) have helped they have not stopped them completly......

 

as for your deputy's attitude - i am guessing this is the only area you do not see eye to eye on? I would have to say I would see no problem whatever in how you are dealing with this. what about the Head? If a comlaint arose would they back you up??

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Do you feel right about what you did? Were you angry when you touched the child, or did you do it to gain attention you weren't otherwise getting? I would imagine you were doing what many of us would do naturally, adding a little human contact to reinforce something verbal, without doing the child any harm at all?

 

Do you have a physical handling policy? this should set out the criteria for handling (as in restraining) a child and yes, it is allowed in certain circumstances and in fact can be vital for safety.

 

Do you have other members of staff with opinions. Maybe you could come up with a new behaviour managent policy which would include a discussion on this point, but based on sensible advice about what is acceptable.

 

Good luck, and remember you are the one in charge and ultimately the one responsible, so do what you think is right but try and get everyone 'singing from the same hymn sheet' if possible.

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The question that I'd ask is 'why did you feel the need to get her attention?' and 'was it vital you had her attention at that specific moment to stop damage or hurt occuring?'

 

Often, children back themselves into a corner and your best bet is to have a quiet word later on when the child has calmed down, rather than insisting on following through in the heat of the moment.

 

I've been in a situation where I blocked a child from leaving a class room (actually this is allowed in law) but he then picked up a chair and threw it at me. As the adult, you have to decide when physical touch is appropriate and reasonable and where you just need to let everyone cool down of their own accord.

 

Yes, physical restraint is required if a child is actually about to hurt someone or damage something, and physical touch is appropriate if a child is upset, but it's a very fine line if it's just about you wanting the child to pay attention.

 

This guidance gives information which you may find useful:

 

http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/f...ation/physical/

 

To quote part of it: "Any form of physical punishment of pupils is unlawful as is any form of physical response to misbehaviour unless it is by way of restraint." So, the question is, were you restraining her from hurting herself/others?

 

I suspect some whole staff training and a very clear policy would both be useful for you and your deputy.

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