In our work with schools and organisations we often use the concept of the Relationship Bank Account to help people understand the importance of developing relationships with people to improve communication and how people get on.
If you think of your relationships with people as a bank account, it means that every time you do something positive for someone you deposit “goodwill” into your relationship bank account with them. These goodwill deposits are necessary because they protect your relationship from the times when you make a “withdrawal” from the relationship. This explains why when you forget to share information, say the wrong thing or get angry, your relationship with your good friends or associates does not end. Its because you have earnt enough trust to have some remaining “goodwill.”
In a school context there are lots of relationships that are formed and our focus here is that with your child’s teacher. First and foremost, why is this relationship important? Mind Matters answer this by stating that:
“The benefits of home-school partnerships are apparent, with research consistently finding that teacher and family relationships are important for young people’s social and emotional wellbeing and academic achievement (Desforges & Aboucher, 2003). The development of positive relationships between families and school staff takes effort from both parties and typically develops over time rather than over a single event.”
The next question is how? Does this mean you need to be best friends with your child’s teacher or give them nice presents to ensure your child’s social and emotional wellbeing and academic achievement? The answer is no.
As a former teacher, Victoria Bingham, our own Strength Hero, has five tips for how parents can fill their relationship bank account with their children’s teachers.
Smile - It’s easy, free and it will release endorphins for you and the receiver of your smile that will make you healthier and happier.
Bring queries or your concerns to them first and early – Think about it from their point of view. Would you prefer to find out about a problem that someone had with something you did from them or from someone else. Focus on the issue and if you are feeling a bit awkward about raising something say so. It will help break the ice.
Show interest in them as a person. Ask them questions to find out a bit more about them. It could be: Are you going away for the holidays? If your child has shared something about them you could follow up with a question. "Ben mentioned your cat had an operation, how are they doing?”
Provide positive feedback – As well as avoiding raising issues with people we are generally not great at providing specific positive feedback. When you thank someone, it is so much more effective to be specific about what you are thanking them for. For example, you may send a thank you to the teacher at report time: “We found Ben’s report really informative and we can tell you know him well”
Having your child ready and on time for school – Teachers have so much to get through each day with our children. Making sure your child gets enough sleep, is eating well and has a good routine makes our teachers jobs so much easier and your child ready to learn.
These tips can be applied to any relationship.
What do you do to build your relationships and what else could you do?