Standards for child and youth development programs

2020 Edition

Early Childhood Education (CYD-ECE) 7: Promoting Quality Relationships with Teaching Staff and Peers

Children experience meaningful, responsive, and stable relationships with teaching staff and peers.

2020 Edition




Early Childhood Education facilitates appropriate child development and ensures the health and safety of children in care.
Related Standards:
The program’s practices fully meet the standard, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • Provide a description of the primary caregiver role
  • Provide a description of how children contribute to the classroom and group
  • Behavior management policy and procedures (CYD-ECE 7.07, 7.08, 7.09)
  • Relevant portions of curriculum related to social and emotional development
  • Interview:
    1. Program director
    2. Teaching staff
    3. Parents
  • Observe interactions:
    1. Teacher/child
    2. Peer/peer
    3. Teacher/teacher
    4. Group
  • Observe facility
  • Review child files for behavior management plans

CYD-ECE 7.01

Each child has a meaningful, ongoing relationship with a primary caregiver.

The research shows that maintaining the same primary caregiver aids in the development of secure child-caregiver attachments, as well as improved relationships between the caregiver and the family, and between the child and his or her peers.

CYD-ECE 7.02

Teaching staff facilitate the development of secure attachments by providing each child with care that is:

  1. responsive;
  2. flexible;
  3. consistent; and
  4. predictable.


Responsive care includes:

  1. evaluating and adjusting routines, interactions, activities, or materials  to meet the  individual and changing  needs, interests, and abilities of the children in  care;
  2. responding promptly and appropriately to children’s needs; and
  3. providing opportunities for child-directed activities and conversations.


Teaching staff should be flexible in meeting each child’s eating, toileting, and sleeping needs.

Research presents strong evidence that children who receive predictable, positive, and responsive care feel safe and supported, allowing them to explore confidently and without fear.  Long-term studies have shown that these secure attachments are a strong predictor of future academic achievement including higher test scores, stronger cognitive and social skills, and fewer behavioral problems.

CYD-ECE 7.03

Teaching staff establish meaningful relationships with each child by:

  1. demonstrating affection, attention, and respect;
  2. interacting frequently in a positive and expressive manner;
  3. engaging in extended conversations; and
  4. responding to his or her questions or requests.


Positive interactions are demonstrated through:

  1. pleasant tone of voice;
  2. use of the child’s name;
  3. use of positive language;
  4. speaking with children at their eye-level;
  5. eye contact;
  6. smiling;
  7. offering praise and encouragement; and
  8. making positive physical contact when acceptable to the child, such as: hugging, holding a child’s hand, and offering comforting touch.


Conversations should be both child and teacher initiated.  Teaching staff should demonstrate interest when children ask questions or discuss something of interest to them.

The literature identifies positive interactions with teaching staff as a primary indicator of child care quality and a strong predictor of positive outcomes such as cognitive development, language skills, social development, and the healthy development of trust, confidence, and identity.

CYD-ECE 7.04

Each infant receives individualized, ongoing care from one person, or a consistent team, who:

  1. imitates and responds positively to the infant’s vocalizations;
  2. understands and respects the infant’s sleeping and eating habits;
  3. recognizes the infant’s various cries and promptly responds;
  4. provides reassurance, physical care, regular affection, and tactile and vocal stimulation;
  5. gives one-on-one attention during caregiving routines such as rocking, feeding, or changing; and
  6. offers consistent repetition of daily routines, allowing for some variety and contrast.

NA The organization does not provide infant care.

CYD-ECE 7.05

Teaching staff promote the development of positive self-identity by:

  1. honoring differing abilities, genders, and ethnic and cultural backgrounds in the classroom;
  2. providing opportunities for children to care for and make decisions regarding their classroom and contribute to the group;
  3. treating children and their families equally and with respect;
  4. welcoming children and their families to the program each day;
  5. encouraging exploration and celebrating achievements; and
  6. involving the child in communication with the family whenever possible.

CYD-ECE 7.06

Teaching staff act as role models and promote the development of positive peer relationships by:

  1. supporting children in the development of friendships and other forms of positive group interaction;
  2. providing opportunities to learn and practice pro-social behaviors including negotiation, problem solving, and communication skills;
  3. helping children to enter into, sustain, and enhance play;
  4. protecting children from teasing and bullying;
  5. encouraging emotional self-regulation;
  6. serving meals “family-style;” and
  7. using everyday activities to foster the development of social skills.


Pro-social behaviors include:

  1. empathy;
  2. sharing;
  3. taking turns;
  4. listening to others; and
  5. providing comfort to individuals in need.

Note: See CYD-ECE 8.10 and CYD-ECE 8.11  for more information on promoting emotional and social development within the curriculum.

To encourage socialization and promote relationship building, the literature on child development encourages serving meals “family style,” with several children and adults sitting around a table, serving themselves, and engaging in conversations.

CYD-ECE 7.07

Teaching staff support positive behavior by:

  1. developing positive relationships with children;
  2. building on children’s strengths and reinforcing positive behaviors;
  3. recognizing opportunities for children to learn and practice conflict resolution skills;
  4. encouraging the child’s ability to self-regulate and accept responsibility for their behavior;
  5. responding consistently to behavioral issues;
  6. providing engaging activities throughout the day;
  7. re-directing children to encourage self-calming and de-escalate volatile situations;
  8. providing sufficient support during daily transitions; and
  9. modeling positive behavior by interacting with fellow staff, children, and families in a positive, respectful manner.
Related Standards:


Re-directing children can involve engaging the child in an individual activity away from the group and having a developmentally-appropriate discussion about emotional self-regulation techniques and conflict resolution skills.

Fundamental Practice

CYD-ECE 7.08

Negative approaches to behavior management are prohibited including, but not limited to:

  1. corporal punishment;
  2. interventions that involve withholding nutrition or hydration, or that inflict physical or psychological pain;
  3. isolation and locked seclusion;
  4. ignoring the child;
  5. group punishment or discipline for individual behavior;
  6. labeling a child “good” or “bad;”
  7. the use of demeaning, shaming, threatening, or degrading language, tone, volume, or activities;
  8. physical restraint, except when a child’s behavior poses an immediate threat of harm to themselves or others; and
  9. punitive use of timeouts.


Physical restraint should never be used as punishment or a means of controlling unwanted behavior unless that behavior poses an immediate threat of harm to the child or someone else.  Examples of emergency situations that may require physical restraint include when a child runs towards a street or when a child attempts to cause physical harm to him or herself or another child in the classroom.

CYD-ECE 7.09

When children with persistent behavioral issues are enrolled in the program, teachers work with parents to:

  1. identify triggers to negative behaviors;
  2. identify de-escalation strategies or interventions that have worked well in the past;
  3. develop and implement an individualized plan to support the child’s success; and
  4. seek mental health consultation as needed.

Note: See CYD-ECE 9 for more information on serving children with unique behavioral needs that may require additional screenings or services.

CYD-ECE 7.10

Program changes are made with sensitivity to each child’s need for stability and consistent relationships.


Program changes include decisions around grouping, staffing, and scheduling, which could impact a child’s day-to-day routines and established relationships. Programs can demonstrate that the needs of children in the program have been considered by instituting changes slowly, over-time; notifying children and their families of upcoming changes in advance; and taking the time to answer questions regarding the purpose of the change.