Child psychologist joins Goodstart team
Improving outcomes for children and making work more rewarding for all educators is the goal of Goodstart’s senior early learning consultant – practice uplift (behaviour), Dr Louise Porter.
Dr Porter, who started formally working with Goodstart in May, is passionate about supporting children to meet their needs in ways that allow others to meet theirs also.
She has worked with children for over 35 years and presented her findings on the controlling versus guidance methods at the Goodstart Early Learning teachers’ conferences earlier this year.
She will be working with general manager of pedagogy and practice Sue Robb with the aim of ensuring that Goodstart educators and teachers employ world-best practice when responding to children’s behaviours.
“Reflecting Goodstart’s deep commitment to uplifting practice, part of my role will be to build a culture where the guidance method is used rather than the controlling reward and punishment method,” Dr Porter said.
The guidance method believes that children do well when they can and, like adults, want to be successful in life. If they are making mistakes, it is because they lack the skill to carry out tasks successfully.
The controlling method uses punishment and reward and is based on negative beliefs that children are attention seeking, manipulative and misbehaving deliberately.
“Guidance does not use rewards or punishment but instead teaches children skills that allow them to behave considerately.”
Dr Porter said children’s behaviour was often misunderstood and that children need our compassion the most when they appeared to deserve it the least.
“if you take the example of a child being told they are not allowed an ice cream. They get upset and, because they still haven’t learnt how to-regulate their behaviour, they then can become frightened by feeling out of control,” Dr Porter said.
“This is when we need to step in and give them cuddles and support so that they can control their emotions again.”
She said adults often need to find something relaxing or soothing to do if they became upset or emotional.
“And this is what children need too. They need to be comforted until they feel okay again.”
Dr Porter said humans were hard-wired to learn how to build relationships with others and cooperate with them to ensure their needs and wants were met.
“We therefore need to teach children to behave considerately and to be mindful of how their behaviour affects others,” she said. “You cannot teach this by using rewards or punishments” she went on to say, ‘because those methods teach children what happens to them when they act in a given way, whereas what we want children to focus on is what happens to others when they act that way’.