The Healing Environment is a visual representation of what children need to grow and mature. It includes relationships, boundaries, adult self-control, empathy, acceptance, encouragement, and humor.
A Healing Environment provides trust, safety, emotional regulation, and a place to be vulnerable. It allows children to be themselves and accept their weaknesses in ways that encourage growth, help experience consequences for mistakes, create healthy boundaries, provide empathy for individual circumstances, and develop safe and trusting relationships with others. A Healing Environment does not allow poor or unhealthy behavior to continue, as this only hurts the child.
Components of a Healing Environment:
- Relationships are the foundation of the Healing Environment. Research shows that relationships are the strongest predictor of behavioral change in children.
- Humor Light-hearted teasing shows love, acceptance, and unconditional regard for the child. It shows you accept the student regardless of behavior, which helps foster attachment, bonding, and relationship building.
- Empathy is understanding and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Sympathy, on the other hand, is feelings of pity or sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
- Acceptance of who the child is and their history
- Encouragement is providing honest feedback about behavior and how the child is doing.
- Choices Using choices can be powerful for helping children learn how to make decisions, learn autonomy, and develop self-confidence.
- Adult Self Control is maintaining positive mental health and self-control and being a role model for the child.
- Boundaries provide the needed structure, accountability, and consistency to help a child learn and grow.
You can take our Relationship Interaction Style Test to learn more about what you bring naturally to the healing environment.
To learn more about the Healing Environment and all of its components, watch our podcast Esther Learns all Teachers Don’t Have to Be the Same go to https://healingchildren.teachable.com/courses and watch our online training on “Healing Discipline Finding Joy in Working with Challenging Students” or “What is a Healing Environment”. You can also find more information in our book “Healing Discipline: Bringing Hope to Shattered Lives, A Guide for Educators.”