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4 MAY 1999
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Group activities

Child care workers often have to work with larger groups of children. This is not necessarily a negative thing. They are rediscovering the value of group activities. One staff member, with some ideas and skills, can achieve much with any group of children.

Group activities are a great way for children to:

Some guidelines received from the Full Circle Residential Treatment Programmes in California USA:

  1. Be gentle and affectionate. Give pats on the back, handshakes, or other physical signs of caring without roughness or any action which can be confused as aggressive or sexual.
  2. Set clear personal boundaries. Let the residents know you do not want to be punched, pinched or otherwise hurt.
  3. Set clear personal boundaries. Let the residents know that you like to be treated with affection; but be clear to eliminate any sexual confusion they may have regarding you or any sexualised touching.
  4. Help residents understand that there are certain times and places where rough play is allowed. Set boundaries as a staff team. For example; children may be allowed to play tag on the play field, after dinner, for 30 minutes. Those who cannot respect these boundaries should not be allowed to participate.
  5. If a physical interaction you started gets out of control, don't blame, punish or 'consequence' the children. Re-evaluate your own actions. Don't repeat your mistakes.
  6. All physical play requires adult supervision at all times.
  7. Verbal put-downs and teasing do not belong in a treatment centre. Staff need to model behaviour which is respectful (staff-to-staff, staff-to-resident) and expect the same from residents.
  8. Help residents learn how to play together, share and develop sportsmanship. As staff, your goal is to make any game safe and supportive to all participants. Your team doesn't have to win. You don't have to be the star. Teach residents how to encourage the weakest child, not the star.
  9. Give as much attention to residents who are behaving as those who are misbehaving. Teach them that you will give more of yourself and your affection if they can ask for it appropriately.
  10. Train residents to be successful social people. They have already been taught how to be failures through abuse, violence, sarcasm and ridicule by family, peers and teachers. The only way to teach them success is by affection, nonviolent discipline, respect and praise.
The International Child and Youth Care Network

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