Positive Restorying – He Timatanga Hou

‘An opportunity for a fresh start’
By Nigel Marshall

When a person has behaved in ways that cause injury, discomfort, or disruption they often become ‘storied’. By this we mean that negative information is shared about that person that explains their behaviour as an integral part of who they are, rather than just talking about ‘what they have done’.

For example, a person becomes storied as aggressive, violent, or a bully etc rather than someone who has been aggressive, violent or has bullied.

This can have serious implications when we are seeking to help a person make positive changes.

Instead of looking for the cause of the behaviour in its context, we may be locating the cause of the behaviour in the essence of that person and often in their culture. This story is more likely to be seen as reflecting a fixed determined state that is resistant to change.

Not only can this negative story or view be held by those working with a akonga, e.g. teaching staff, other akonga, whānau etc, it may become internalised and held to be true by the akonga themselves.

If the akonga also believes that their actions are a result of their ‘fixed’ nature and/or culture, their belief and motivation for positive change will also be weakened.

While it is a familiar and all-too human response to generalise and categorise behaviour it is often a major barrier to making positive change.

By focussing on an akonga’s strengths, positive beliefs and values, and structuring opportunities for the akonga to apply those skills, strengths, beliefs, and values in ways that are of assistance to others and reflect well on themselves, we create the potential for a new, mana enhancing, positive story to emerge for the akonga themselves, staff, classmates and whānau.

This new story needs plenty of opportunity to be practiced and must be shared with all those who have previously been privy to the negative storying until the new story becomes the defining description.

This is an example of ‘co-regulation’ where the locus of responsibility for behaviour and self-regulation shifts from resting solely on the individual, to being the shared responsibility of the individual and those of us in that person’s community.

For the Restorying Guide Template, visit the resources section here: TAW Downloadable Resources

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