Early childhood

Building respect and equity among young children

Working with young children

Supporting children to have respectful and equitable relationships when they are young can help them grow into resilient, caring and well-functioning young people and adults, and is a key step towards preventing family violence and all forms of violence against women. This involves nurturing children and helping them learn the skills to acknowledge and accept difference, resolve conflict and solve problems. It is also about challenging gender stereotypes, so children of all genders grow up feeling heard, valued and respected.

Partners in Prevention and City of Melbourne have co-designed a series of tip sheets to help all professionals who work with young children to promote respect and gender equity in their work. The series covers seven topics:

Taking a whole of service approach

In the school environment, evidence shows that taking a whole school approach is the most effective way to promote respectful relationships and gender equity. This tip sheet contains some ideas on how professionals working with young children and their families can adapt and apply these principles to their work.

Supporting children’s sense of identity

Identity is influenced by family, culture, community and experience. Consequently, professionals working with children play an important role in the formation of a child’s identity.

Intentional teaching

The Australian Early Years Learning Framework defines intentional teaching as ‘educators being deliberate, purposeful and thoughtful in their decisions and actions’. Being intentional means taking the time to think about and plan what you want to teach and implementing a range of carefully considered strategies.

Teaching for care

Caring means being sensitive to, aware of and responsive to other people’s needs. As well as having their physical needs met, children also need to feel valued, respected and heard.

The importance of language

Words we use with children carry important messages about gender, power and respectful relationships. Language can be used to let children and adults know what we assume is and isn’t normal for different genders. These messages can limit how children engage with a particular setting or service and with each other.

Observing and documenting

Observing and documenting how children express and understand gender is critical to the intentional teaching of respectful and gender equitable relationships. It can help you to ensure that the physical environment is set up to promote equality.

Working with families

When we work with children, we also work with their families. Communicating regularly with a child’s family helps you to share knowledge and establish a partnership approach to supporting their development.

Acknowledgement of country

DVRCV and the PiP network acknowledge Aboriginal people as the traditional owners of the lands and waters throughout Australia.

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