The Surprising Person Helping Your Child Develop Positive Relationships

Every parent wants the best for their child. This means giving them every tool to succeed in life, school and relationships. And while we usually think of teachers as helping kids in the school and book-learning departments, did you know that educators also play a key role in supporting children’s internal capacity to self-regulate their behaviour and engage in positive interactions with other children and adults?

Developing caring and nurturing relationships that support children’s learning is one of the core competencies that early childhood educators bring to early learning programs in Ontario. The College of Early Childhood Educators, which regulates Ontario’s early childhood educators, recently released a guideline to help its members support positive interactions with children.

“The college’s new practice guideline highlights ways registered early childhood educators (RECEs) can better support positive interactions with children, through techniques like forming positive perspectives and nurturing responsive relationships,” says Melanie Dixon, director of professional practice at the college. “Being responsive means working with children to reduce their stress and anticipate moments in their day that might lead to challenging behaviour.”

The college requires RECEs to remain knowledgeable about current evidence-based research and to transfer that knowledge into practice, and the new guideline directs them to research on brain development and self-regulation. It also teaches new ways of dealing with any challenging behaviours requiring more attention.

“We used to use the term ‘behaviour management’ to describe how educators would address challenging behaviours, but now we know that just trying to manage and direct a child’s behaviour isn’t effective and isn’t enough,” Dixon reveals.

“Another important part of creating positive interactions is the role RECEs play in helping children develop the skills to self-regulate, and the guideline talks about helping them become aware of their emotions, and how to offer them strategies for coping,” Dixon adds.

We can look forward to further improvements in the care our children receive from early childhood educators this September, when the College implements a mandatory ongoing learning program for RECEs to upgrade their skills.

Additional information on the role early childhood educator’s play in your child’s growth and development is available at