Establishing and maintaining a predictably safe, caring and valuing relational climate, where social expectations are defined with clarity and modelled repetitively, creates a context where children can develop responsibility. i.e. The ability to respond appropriately to social expectations (norms).
The brain has only past experiences with which to make a ‘best guess’ at what’s going on in the world, and then predict what action is needed in order to stay alive and thrive. Each social interaction generates (best guess) predictions, accompanied by feelings (affect) generated from past experiences. It is this prediction/affect cycle that drives habitual behaviours. Where a child has limited social experience to draw on –often prediction errors are created, triggering survival mode (fight, freeze, flight). Where adults react to behaviour with methods rooted overwhelmingly in social control they have, at best, limited impact on the brain’s habitual response patterns – particularly where a child has limited experience of meaningful social connection with adults.
Behaviour from this perspective:
It’s WHAT has happened to you - NOT what is wrong with you
Learning to make appropriate responses in the social world requires repetitive experience of strong and stable (regulated) social connection with adults, in a context of clearly defined social expectations (Boundaries) modelled repetitively – Experiencing regulated social connections with adults develops the brain’s capacity to co-regulate with others. This develops the capacity to predict, with increasing accuracy, appropriate responses to an increasingly diverse range of social expectations: Maintain a state of self-regulation when encountering new social situations. Where a child’s social experiences are limited, in type and character, the brain may generate what appear inappropriate response patterns, from a state of dis-regulation (not knowing), as it seeks to ensure survival: Habitual response patterns.
Either we spend time helping children experience co-regulation, or we spend time dealing with the behaviours resulting from dis-regulated states