Sometimes the restorative thing is to do nothing

I heard a story yesterday that reminded me of another story. The story I heard was witnessed by a student teacher. It is about a pre-schooler, a 4-year old girl who accidentally bumped into one of her classmates. The classmate was distressed, and the girl who bumped in to her apologized. She offered her a cookie from her snack bag. They settled it nicely… except.  The teacher then intervened by telling the girl who had bumped the other one to stand in the corner and think about how clumsy she had been lately.

At Restorative Resources we engage in an ongoing form of reflective practice that we call “Restorative Inquiry.” It’s very simple, but very powerful. It consists of three questions, which the teacher who intervened might apply to some advantage. The questions are:

“What are we doing?”

“Why are we doing it?”

“How’s it working out?”*

No need to belabor the point; I’m sure readers of this blog can extrapolate the lessons we can learn from reflecting on this incident.

The story it reminded me of was something I witnessed myself.

I was at the High Sierra Music Festival. An inflatable bounce house had been set up and I as I was walking by it I stopped to watch the 6 or 7 children inside jump around. The youngest might have been three, the oldest six. Things got a little rowdy and one of them was pushed off balance, fell down, and got a little friction burn. He began to cry and look around for help.

The other kids stopped bouncing also, obviously concerned about what might happen next. No adults (other than myself) seemed to be paying attention. Once the kids figured out that they were on their own, they did something very interesting.

They sat in a circle and talked about it.

The injured child showed his wound. The others looked at it with great interest. One or two looked around to see if there were any adults coming to help, and still there weren’t. One of the children put his arm around the other child. I could see them talking, but over the background music could not hear what they were saying.

After a few moments, they all got back on their feet and starting jumping again, this time a little more carefully. They were all smiling.


*(I think I learned to ask these questions from watching Dr. Phil on TV. I’ve only watched his show once…but apparently it made an impression.)


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