Positive relationships with children


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Every child has the right to feel safe, respected, valued and listened to. Meeting these rights is critical for the healthy development of confidence and self-worth in children and for better learning outcomes.

When children experience safe, nurturing and respectful reciprocal relationships with educators, they develop an understanding of themselves as competent, capable and respected.

Approved providers must ensure that education and care supports positive interactions underpinned by inclusive programs, positive guidance and encouragement and support for children to develop self-reliance and confidence (regulation 155 of the National Regulations).

Educators who give priority to nurturing relationships and providing children with consistent emotional support can assist children to develop the skills and understandings they need to interact positively with others. They also help children to learn about their responsibilities to others, appreciate their connectedness and interdependence as learners, and ​value collaboration and team work.

Young children are still learning how to socialise appropriately with others and how to manage feelings and behaviours.

Educators can guide and encourage children to develop self-regulation skills and to interact effectively with others by:

  • role modelling and managing their emotions so responses to any behavioural concerns are constructive, positive and appropriate
  • responding promptly to any behavioural concerns and acknowledging children's positive choices in guiding their behaviour
  • consulting families and other support people for valuable information and insights about each child's strengths, interests and needs, and strategies for participating in the education program.

Approved providers, nominated supervisors and family day care educators must ensure that no child is subjected to any form of corporal punishment or any discipline that is inappropriate in the circumstances (section 166 of the National Law).

Approved providers must support their staff to:

  • interact positively and respectfully with children
  • provide a quality program that meets each child's interests and needs
  • develop and follow policies and procedures that guide positive behaviour and ensure a child-safe environment
  • follow a clear structure for reporting and addressing any instances of inappropriate discipline. This may include training and professional development.

Reflective questions

Approved providers and all staff providing education and care should regularly reflect on their practice, including asking themselves the following questions.

  • How do I build close, secure relationships with children of all ages, abilities, genders and backgrounds?
  • How do I deliberately, purposefully and thoughtfully interact with children to support their learning?
  • How do I ensure children feel that they belong and are included in the service, can participate in all learning experiences and that their contributions are appreciated and recognised?
  • Am I providing a quality program based on the needs, interests and abilities of each child that supports their meaningful engagement in activities?
  • Are the play spaces, resources and routines organised in a way that minimises situations where children may become frustrated or stressed?
  • Do I support children to express themselves and make decisions?
  • Do I support children to develop skills to self-regulate their behaviour and acknowledge their efforts when they do?
  • Do I have a deep understanding of child development and age-appropriate positive behaviour guidance strategies?
  • Do I take time to reflect on my interactions with the children and adults in the service?
  • Do I consistently use positive language, gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice when redirecting or discussing children's behaviour with them?
  • How do I ensure that no children at my service are subjected to corporal punishment or any discipline that is inappropriate in the circumstances?



For educators

‘Children are full of emotions and it can cause challengin​g behaviour. But it's important to recognise that they are children. They haven't mastered their emotions like we have. So, we have to role model to them.’

See the show, not tell: guiding behaviour page for more information. Watch the video below​​​.

Last updated 15 September 2023