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How Educators can Guide and Nurture Children in Developing Positive Relationships

Educators, through their daily care act as role models. With strategies and supports in place, children can seek, build, and secure respectful and equitable relationships with others.

Written by: Jo Harris Early Educational Advisor  

Quality Area 5 of the National Quality Standard is primarily dedicated to outlining the impact of children’s relationships and the impact it has on them. Important to note is that Early Childhood Australia’s Code of Ethics and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child can also guide how educators promote and maintain the positive development of relationships between children.

Educators, through their daily care act as role models to support children to learn and develop relationship skills within a social environment within their early childhood education and care setting. In this space, consideration is given to the strategies and supports that are in place for children to seek, build, and secure respectful and equitable relationships with other children and adults of all ages, abilities, and cultures.

Element 5.2.2: emphasises the need to support each child as they develop their self-regulation and communication skills throughout their learning and development.

Relationships are Important

It is through relationships that children learn to connect with others. From birth, children begin to develop relationships; first with their parents and families and then with educators and other children (EYLF). When educators demonstrate warm, caring, and responsive interactions they learn the value of dispositions such as collaboration and cooperation.

Equally important, children are supported to develop competence in key areas of their socialisation and build quality relationships with others in which they learn about their feelings and emotions and how that can affect interactions with others. Feeling secure and cared for affords them to opportunity to share these same qualities in their relationships.

All children have their own unique and individual qualities and personalities, that will determine how they connect and communicate with others and express themselves. Support from skilled educators to plan and implement strategic and intentional activities can assist each child, depending on their specific needs. 

The Influence of the Child’s Age and Stage of Development

Naturally, there are visible differences in children’s ability to form and develop their relationship skills. For younger and nonverbal children there will be an emphasis on gestures, facial expressions, and body movements to convey feelings and emotions. Older children will be more interested in seeing what others are doing and saying and trying to form friendships with others who have shared likes and interests.

It is adults who have the skills and lived experience that they will teach children about through play. They can decide in collaboration with other adults what and how best to plan activities and experiences that will assist children to boost their confidence and self-esteem in how they see themselves and within their relationships with others.

Being open and aware of expected behaviour can help to recognise when and if a child is experiencing some difficulty within their relationships. Signs such as isolation or difficulty in positively engaging with others can be responded to support the child or children requiring assistance. Modelling language and appropriate behaviours help children to understand and process what they are experiencing within the safety of a responsive adult. These are the skills that children can carry forward into their relationships within and outside of their early childhood setting.

Building relationships with children

It is not just relationships with people that can be focused on. The relationships that children form with nature and animals, as well as places and things. With many opportunities to learn about care and caregiving, these skills become embedded within many of the other social skills that are associated with lifelong dispositions and personal qualities.

Daily interaction with children, both older and younger, allows children experience to learn and understand more about others as they widen their perspective of the world and their place in it. Meeting and spending time with caregivers outside of the family is also an important part of making and connecting with others as they build confidence and independence as people.

For more information about nurturing and guiding positive relationships please visit 




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