Restitution is a program created by Diane Gossen, based on the work of William Glasser’s Control Theory and the principles of Aboriginal Restorative Justice. It provides those working with children hands-on skills to use when dealing with difficult behavior. Traditional discipline programs are based on stimulus-response psychology and focus on consequences; either positive ones such as rewards or negative ones such as the removal of privileges. Drawing from current research on the brain functioning, Restitution recognizes that for true learning to occur, the process that children must engage in is an internal one. Restitution teaches youth self-discipline and skills needed to promote independence, critical thinking skills and acceptance of personal responsibility for one’s actions. Restitution strengthens. The focus of restitution is restituting the self which teaches youth to behave to be the person they want to be rather than to please others. An important part of Restitution is the development of a social contract that includes discussion of the beliefs and values that adult and youth decide together are important.
Restitution is all about relationships, instead of rules. Traditional behavior management practices often leave youth feeling that adults are against them. Youth who engage in the Restitution process not only report feeling that they have learned something through the process, but that they are “on the same side” as the adult working with them.