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Te whakatupu i ngā pūkenga whakaratarata/Fostering Social Competence



Being and becoming members of an environmentally sustainable community is the foundation of our curriculum at Collectively Kids. This involves close and complex relationships based on care of the self, care of others and care of the environment. Interactions are valued and the centre programme is set up to encourage social competence and fair and friendly play. The centre has a wide range of resources that promote play and are accessible for most periods of the day. Routines are flexible. Respect for tamariki, adults and the environment are central to the programme.

Kaiako work as a team displaying appropriate behaviour and setting clear, consistent limits that are realistic and fair for individual and groups of tamariki at the centre. Documentation, planning and evaluation processes ensure that any problems are promptly dealt with.  Collectively Kids has developed several social stories which can be revisited by adults and tamariki and social stories are written to support the development of social competence. Collectively Kids use strategies from He Māpuna te Tamaiti Supporting Social and Emotional competence in Early Learning extensively. Collectively Kids support tuakana-teina relationships and the tamariki alongside each other.


Infants and Toddlers

The centre programme offers a wide range of resources and experiences to encourage and support the development of social competence. Kaiako focus on getting to know tamariki and whānau well. Turn-taking games, language, signs and role modelling (e.g. gentle touching) are used to support positive interactions. Quiet spaces are available. Routines are flexible to minimise the potential for frustration, hunger and tiredness. Infants and toddlers have opportunities to interact with older tamariki at the centre both in Ranginuis’s Basket (the over two area) and in Te Ao Mārama( the infant toddler room). These interactions are supported and supervised carefully by kaiako. Kaiako discuss and provide clear and gentle feedback on behaviour to tamariki regardless of their age. Any ongoing issues relating to behaviour will be discussed with parents and a plan of action will be agreed on.



Young Tamariki

The centre programme is designed to give every opportunity for constructive, co-operative play and work. It is an expectation at the centre that resources, toys and spaces will be shared. Exclusion is not acceptable. However, tamariki are asked to respect the play of others and must not disrupt games or constructions. They are encouraged to employ a range of strategies for joining play including using assertive language and negotiation. If tamariki express a desire to play alone, they are encouraged to find a quiet space to do so. Tamariki are offered genuine choices to support their independence and agency. 

Young tamariki have the opportunity to play with, and support, infants and toddlers at the centre (tuakana-teina relationships are fostered). Tamariki who are invited into the infant toddler area are expected to follow behaviour rules in this area.

Aggressive or violent play is not acceptable. Aggression is defined as causing discomfort or concern to others and may include a range of behaviours from roaring, threatening language, singling people out, to unasked-for hugs and cuddles. “Violent” play themes (which can be fun and do not necessarily express themselves in aggressive behaviour) will be monitored and discussed with tamariki to explore alternatives if necessary. Safe boundaries for active/rough and tumble play will be discussed with tamariki.


Kaiako are consistent in their praise of appropriate behaviour and tamariki are treated in a warm supportive manner regardless of their behaviour. Tamariki are encouraged to express their feelings and frustrations in words and to apologise (though this is not insisted on). Tamariki are encouraged to check if another tamaiti is hurt. Assertive language and behaviours are modelled by kaiako and discussed within social stories written by the centre. Tamariki are given opportunities to practise assertion skills. Tamariki are required to respect others and to be sensitive to their feelings, this includes looking at people's faces to see if they are enjoying a game and refraining from any form of harassment. Time is taken to explain why behaviour may be inappropriate and tamariki are encouraged to resolve their own problems. Kaiako are available to facilitate. A plan is in place for dealing with situations of conflict. Kaiako will emphasise on what to do, rather than what not to do in explanations and instructions. (e.g. Walking feet inside of no running inside). Routines and rituals are flexible. There is only one mat time at Collectively Kids at mid day before lunch. Mat times are opportunities for the tamariki and kaiako to revisit the expectations and responsibilities and have discussions about a range of things. Younger tamariki are not expected to take part in the whole mat time and they can move on to kai when they are ready. Older tamariki are encouraged to stay on for in-depth discussions around critical thinking, transition to school etc.     


If a tamaiti persistently displays inappropriate behaviour, s/he will be redirected and given the opportunity to calm down and to behave more constructively in another area, working closely with a kaiako (if appropriate). Persistent inappropriate behaviour is recorded on incidental notes, discussed in and meetings and a plan may be written. Whānau advice will be sought.


Positive guidance in situations of conflict

A plan for kaiako:


Infants and toddlers

Observe… time to intervene?

No if neither of the tamariki is becoming upset.

Yes if tamariki are distressed, hurt or there is a possibility of harm.

  • Stay calm

  • Beware of body language (no abrupt or overly large movements)

  • Make physical contact with all tamariki involved which ensures that they are safe from harm

  • Use a gentle tone of voice, clear language, gestures, demonstration and signs to support (if needed)

  • Avoid the use of “no”, phrasing issues in a positive way (eg gentle hands rather than no hitting)

  • Comfort the hurt tamaiti if it is clear who has been hurt

  • Keep the other tamaiti close in an affectionate way but remove other attention (no eye contact)

  • Facilitate/support a sustained positive interaction between the tamariki immediately and give lots of gentle, clear feedback to both tamariki about their play


Young children

Two models

Restorative justice

Tell the story with people involved:

“What happened?” ask all people and let all answer, make no judgement
Explore the story - who has been affected, explore the harm with people involved:

State the situation, who is most affected? Questions could be “How are you feeling?” to children involved or statement of situation. “And now … is crying/hurt…”
Repair the harm – what can be done to make things right:

Questions – “What can … do to make you feel better?” “What can you do to make… feel better?” This may need some suggestions (icepack, drink, cuddle). Negotiate and act on agreed solution.
Move on – how can we make sure this doesn’t happen again?

Question might be – “What can you do next time… (describe situation) so that no one gets hurt/upset…?”

Considered intervention

Observe... Time to intervene?


No if children seem to be resolving the situation in a way that satisfies all or most parties - keep an eye on dynamics/power!

Yes if there is any aggression, distress, injury,  possibility of harm or power imbalance.


  • Stay calm - if you can't, hand over to someone else

  • Use an assertive tone of voice and assertive language

  • Separate behaviour from the tamaiti"I don't like it when you do...."

  • If possible find out what happened/is happening (try not to make assumptions)

  • Comfort 'hurt' tamaiti (if it's obvious who has been hurt)

  • Facilitate resolution if this is appropriate:

  1. Encourage hurt child to say "I don't like it when..." or similar, while looking the aggressor in the face.

  2. Check that aggressor has heard and elaborate on why behaviour was inappropriate. In a larger group situation it may be best to find a quiet and more private space for such a discussion.

  3. Check with aggressor how s/he could have avoided the behaviour eg. "What else could you have done rather than..."

  4. Ask aggressor how s/he might make the victim feel better now. Suggest apology if appropriate. Redirect child into constructive activity.

  5. Spend time with the victim going over what to do if someone does something you don't like. Say "I don't like it when…" If it doesn't stop, tell an adult. If they don't help tell another adult etc. Redirect child into constructive activity.


Sometimes (if behaviour has been discussed many times, if appropriate response is not forthcoming, if tamaiti is enjoying attention) immediate redirection without comment is more appropriate.


Make sure the strategy you use is compatible with the individual plan of the tamaiti involved and consistent with centre practice and philosophy.

Licensing Criteria 2008, Curriculum, Children as Learners documentation required:

  • C10 - a process for providing positive guidance to encourage social competence in tamariki.

  • Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008

  • Te Whāriki. Early Childhood curriculum. Ministry of Education (2017)

  • Ministry of Education (2019). He Māpuna te Tamaiti. Supporting Social and Emotional  Competence in Early Learning

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