Children and youth who participate in Out-of-School Time programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood.
Note:See CA-OST 4 and CA-OST 9 for more information regarding the importance of using a variety of strategies to ensure that all children and youth are appropriately and sufficiently engaged in the program.
When concerning behaviours or conflicts arise, personnel determine:
when children and youth can be left alone or quickly redirected;
when children and youth can be encouraged to resolve situations on their own; and
when it is necessary to intervene.
When children and youth experience conflicts personnel should typically encourage them to try to resolve the situation on their own, and step in only as needed. However, personnel should also take care to ensure that the situation is resolved effectively. It is also important to note that children and youth should never be encouraged to find a mutually-agreeable solution on their own if there is a power imbalance between them, as addressed in CA-OST 6.06.
When it is necessary to intervene in a situation, personnel:
remain calm and patient;
refrain from publicly criticizing children and youth, to the extent possible;
acknowledge the feelings of children and youth;
help children and youth cool down, as needed;
speak with children and youth to learn their perspectives regarding what caused the situation; and
consider whether there are any underlying causes or circumstances that may have triggered or contributed to the situation.
In an effort to prevent future incidents and maintain a positive program climate, responses to concerning behaviour include:
viewing incidents as learning opportunities that can help improve how children and youth behave and relate to others;
helping children and youth reflect upon why the incident occurred, the impact of their actions, what they can do differently next time, and what support is needed to make that change;
helping children and youth take responsibility for their actions in ways that are respectful, appropriate to age and developmental level, and related to the behaviour in question;
helping children and youth repair their relationships with their peers and the program community;
considering and addressing the needs and circumstances of all involved, including balancing accountability for actions with an understanding of the factors and underlying causes that may have contributed to those actions; and
avoiding the use of exclusionary or overly-punitive consequences (e.g., suspension), to the extent possible.
Examples: While some organizations will have pre-determined consequences for specific behaviours, it may be more appropriate to individualize consequences based on the specific needs and circumstances of children and youth, and to involve children and youth in determining consequences designed to help youth take responsibility for their actions and repair any harm that occurred. For example, a youth who has vandalized the restroom might meet with the custodian to learn about the extent and costs of the damage done, and to assist with needed repairs.
In an effort to meet the needs of children and youth with a history of trauma, personnel:
are able to recognize when a child or youth may have experienced trauma;
understand the impact of trauma, including the impact trauma can have on child learning and behaviour; and
balance accountability for actions with an understanding of the way past trauma may have contributed to those actions.
Examples: Bullying can be physically and psychologically harmful, and may take different forms – from physical assaults, to rumor spreading and social exclusion, to mean-spirited teasing, jokes, or name calling (e.g., racist or sexist jokes, or mocking someone’s abilities). It is also important to remember that bullying can occur both in-person and electronically (e.g., via social media).
When children and youth have special behavioural needs, personnel provide additional support and individualized interventions, as needed.
All possible accommodations and interventions should be exhausted before it is decided that a particular child or youth is not appropriate for the program. As noted in CA-OST 3.05, organizations are expected to accommodate all children and youth unless: (1) an individual poses a safety threat to him/herself or others, (2) the accommodations needed would result in a fundamental alteration to the program, or (3) the accommodations needed would put an undue financial burden on the organization. If an enrolled child or youth is unable to be successful in the program, personnel should: (1) initiate a conversation with both the child or youth and his/her family, and (2) make every effort to ensure that the family obtains information about programs and services that may be more appropriate for the child or youth.
Examples: Appropriate responses may vary, depending on the child or youth and the situation. In some cases it may make sense to partner with children, families, and other involved providers to develop behaviour management plans that include specific strategies for supporting behaviour based on individual needs and circumstances.