Children's Voice May/June 2008

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What the Restorative Approach Is Not

Adopting the Restorative Approach does not mean limits or rules are nonexistent. The adults are responsible for creating a safe, orderly setting that maximizes the safety and success of the children.

The Restorative Approach does not take away staff authority. It means we use our authority honestly, directly, and with respect.

The Restorative Approach does not mean staff can ignore maladaptive behavior. We must have the strength to be direct with youth about what they are doing and how it is affecting others.

The Restorative Approach does not mean our prime intervention is constantly asking the child how they are feeling. Instead, we use the art of engagement, exploration, humor, distraction, looking for patterns, listening, and repeating until everyone discovers what is going on.

The Restorative Approach is not something that can only be employed when everything is calm and we have plenty of time. If that were the case, it wouldn't be much use in residential treatment. Whether we are intervening in crisis or simply filling out a form, we can be respectful and collaborative with the children. We can convey our certainty that the child is doing the best she can, and that together we can learn ways to do better.

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