Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Choice and Self-Determination and the Collaborative Problem solving Model

The subject of choice and being self-determined is important for helping kids buy into the Collaborative problem solving model

As kids grow , and it can be as little as 2 year old with their NO..s and teenagers  in their attempts to gain independence , the ability and the opportunity to make choices and   exercise autonomy is important. Often because their autonomy is thwarted in controlling schools they seek to reclaim it in non- appropriate ways in the home or outside of school.

However when we look at life there seems to be very little opportunity to exercise or generate choices. Even as adults we are subject to the authority of a boss or at least in many relationships we don't have individual choice but we make choices together with spouses, family members, kids, fellow employees etc. So in the context of family, community,work, friends etc , it seems clear that what must occasionally be restricted is not choice but individual choice. Cooperation opens up the way to so many more opportunities and choices despite the fact that individual choice may be compromised in some areas. We need to talk in the plural – we need to , or our problem , our choices. And even if we are pursuing our individual choices we need to take into account the perspectives and concerns of others. We also take into account the concerns of others because of who we are. As the Sage Hillel said – if I am not for myself , who will be for me and if I am only for myself – who am I ?

Kids' choice will depend on maturity and level of development. We won't give car keys to a child , put sugar and other unhealthy food on the table , allow unrestricted and unsupervised screen time or no bedtime- sleep schedule  because it is not developmentally appropriate and does not serve or meet the developmental needs of kids. What  kids want and desire does not mean that it meets their true needs and is good for them . And it is for this reason that their choices and autonomy must be limited and thwarted. However , we can invite kids to participate in the decision making, generating choices and solving problems in a collaborative way. In this way we support their autonomy ,set limits together with them and they thus learn to set limits for themselves, to take life principles and  derive a limit from the situation itself 

We are often told , that we don't have much choice and in the main the choice we do have is how we respond to situations. Now we can respond in many ways – we can respond in a way that we feel controlled, threatened,  no choice – we have to be compliant , if not we suffer the consequences or we do something because of the prize , praise or some other extrinsic motivation. We can be controlled by desires, wants, feelings of anxiety, being controlled by the inside – the need to please , workaholic  etc. Or we can respond in a way , that shows our autonomy , that we are authors of our actions and self-determined. When we are subjected to a security check at the airport , we do it in an autonomous way , because we believe this is the way to ensure safety .  We are self-determined when we endorse any action at the highest level of reflection. It means being connected to your inner-being. Many of the things kids say , are said when they are not connected to their inner beings or being self-determined but merely seeking the path of least resistance , no deep reflection.  Autonomy has nothing to do with independence or being able to choose what to do. It is making sure , that we become the authors of our actions and feel self-determined . For sure , there will be times that we feel less intrinsically motivated ,  and still we do these things

Sunday, October 11, 2015

self compassion

Self compassion is said to be one of the important skill sets that a person needs in order to become more reslient and get back on track after some set back or failure. Using mindfulness techniques we treat success and failure as information so without being judgmental we can go forward and solve problems

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Blessing of B minus - Wendy Mogel

Here are my comments on a review of Wendy Morgel's book – The blessing of a B minus.

 While the book is against parents who are controlling and over-parent, the so-called helicopter parents, the advice shared in the article is still focused on getting your child to meet your expectations rather than supporting his autonomy. An appreciation of Dr Ross Greene's CPS, will allow parents to work with their kids and set limits with their kids so both concerns, the kids and the parents are addressed by mutually satisfying solutions.

1 Mogel suggests freedom should be granted based on a child's demonstrated responsibility and accountability.

Why not work with your kid and collaborate so that your concerns for safety, moral values etc and your teenager's concerns will be addressed by a mutually satisfying solution.

2 Instead of critiquing everyday marks, appreciate your child's persistence and hard work,
Instead of Praising hard work and persistence, try to help the child focus on what he is learning and develop a love for learning

3 - You find it hard to say No .Work up the courage to say no, is Mogel's advice. You don't always need to reach a consensus.

Saying No = being controlling unless you have a very good reason is not optimal parenting. There is no problem in reaching a consensus if the parent's concerns are being met.

4 You do everything for your child
Are you doing everything what you want your child to do when the child should be doing what you want from them?  Or could you be supportive and helpful and promote the child's autonomy and interdependence.

5 You try to fix the child. 'Don't fret over or try and fix what's not broken.'
Yes, but why focus on the kid and say she needs no fixing and just say focus on your relationship and be supportive.

6 You talk more than you listen
Good advice here, she says parents should listen x 4 than they speak

7. You leap quickly into alarm mode
She says don't be alarmed if the kid does not make the hockey team , see it as a challenge , maybe be less controlling and say being in the hockey team is not that important.

8 You let your child quit quickly
This implies that you should be more controlling and not let the kid quit. Although she says that you should hear your child's concerns and consider them, why not try to address these concerns so the child will be willing to continue.

9 and 10 -You constantly compare your kids with others-   Your child has no time to play – no problem here 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Relationship Development Intervention - RDI and Motivation

Here is my critique on a blog giving 21 simple ideas as how to improve student motivation – how to motivate students. This list includes ideas that foster intrinsic motivation- IM and extrinsic motivators – EM like praise, rewards, and positive competition. The first problem is that the author lumps extrinsic and intrinsic motivation together which implies that 2 motivations – intrinsic and extrinsic are better than one, better than intrinsic motivation alone.

The reason behind this is that the purpose and   goals of these teachers are to get students to work harder, put in more effort in attaining measurable goals and success. The focus is on student achievement and the means are to use both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. The reality is and this is well researched that extrinsic motivators and intrinsic motivators work in different directions. Ems undermines IM and interest in the subject and task and also the quality of work is affected in a negative way.  Ems focuses on extrinsic performance goals which undermine intrinsic goals such as Mastery and Competence. Mastery and Competence are not achieved by focusing on test scores and learning for the test, but an intrinsic desire to become more engaged in ones' passions and interests and master them so that the student can share their learning and teach others. Performance goals feed extrinsic needs for status, fame, approval and to be better than others. The learning is much more superficial and does not meet the intrinsic needs of students. Ems are very powerful.  A recent study of cadets at the West Point academy showed that cadets with High IM and High EM did much worse in all categories than those with high IM and low EM. Teachers who  focus on IM help kids to experience success or failure as information and focus on what they doing, on the ' process' of learning and not on how well they are doing-' achievement'. They purpose is to help kids be long life learners engaged in their passions and interests and in this context the best and real learning takes place.

Understanding the above distinction between IM and EM is important for parents and caregivers advocating RDI – Relationship Development Interventions for challenging kids. The question often asked is why  shouldn't I  combine approaches - use both IM and EM, or in other words use combine RDI - a working with approach, with ABA – a ' doing to ' approach.?

The correct answer is that it depends on the child. In truth a combination is problematic because RDI is about process – guided participation, relationship and dynamic skills. Using extrinsic motivators   ABA is about achievement, static skills and compliance. Relationship is a goal and a skill to be learned.  Behaviorists see relationship as an extrinsic motivator. If you have a good relationship with your kid, he is more likely to comply with your requests and in the words of an ADHD expert make your rewards and consequences more effective. Kathy Darrow, a RDI expert described how rewards undermine and interfere with relationship. Her kid took the rewards and went to play with them by himself, running away from ' relationship'. The teacher Joe Bower says – Assessment is not a rubric, it is a conversation. We want kids to learn to self-asses, share their thoughts on their work with the teacher and talk not only about the past, but how his project impacts on future learning. Kids become responsible by making decisions and not by simply following instructions. With ' guided participation' kids learn to identify both the concerns and perspectives of others and themselves, come up with possible solutions and make decisions that are mutually satisfactory.  With ' top-down / doing to ' models of parenting and teachers   talk about kids acting responsibly, but this means being compliant and following instructions.  Their autonomy is not respected or supported, competence goals are substituted for superficial ' performance goals ', intrinsic motivation for extrinsic motivation and the relationship between kid and care giver is top-down and controlling mainly through seduction – rewards and candy. RDI supports the needs for autonomy, competence including the important skill of relationship and the need for relationship and belonging.  Supporting these needs makes a kid self-determined and intrinsically motivated.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Rewards are addictive

The problem with rewards is that they are addictive and kids become very dependent on  them. The only reason why kids d or do not do things is to get a reward or avoid punishment. Because kids are so unmotivated we repeatedly need to offer rewards  which again reduces interest in the task. The problem is also that when rewards co-opt intrinsic motivation and preclude intrinsic satisfaction , the extrinsic needs become stronger in themselves. Thus , people develop stronger extrinsic needs as  substitutes for more basic , unsatisfied needs…. They end up behaving as if they were addicted to extrinsic rewards. The claim that we need to use rewards  because a task is uninteresting or kids are unmotivated is just fueling the situation and the last thing we should be doing is giving rewards because they undermine interest. Promising a reward to someone who is unmotivated or demotivated is like offering salt water to someone who is thirsty, it's not the solution it's the problem.  Rewards , do motivate. Rewards motivate kids to get more rewards. 

The reasons why Rewards Fail

In his book Punished by RewardsAlfie Kohn  explains  why rewards fail.

The  are  2 major reasons why rewards fail.

A When anything is presented as a prerequisite for something else -  do this task and you can get that – the task comes to be seen as less desirable

B Rewards are usually experienced as controlling and we tend to recoil from situations where our autonomy is diminished even if we wanted the 'goody'.

here are links to problems caused by rewards taken from AK's book , PBR , an idea from Dan Ariely on social and econmic norms and from my spiritual world an idea on spiritual development and rewards 

Rewards reduce interest in tasks

Rewards are Addictive

Rewards interfere with Moral and Spiritual development and Learning

Rewards and Achievement   - Rewards undermine the quality of work

Rewards Punish

Rewards rupture relationships

Rewards ignore Reasons

Rewards reduce interest in tasks

 When some task is presented as prerequisite for something else- that is, a means towards some other end- the task comes to be seen as less desirable. It also conveys the message to the kid, that if teachers have to bribe him to do this, it must be something that he wouldn't want to do, and/ or the activity itself is not worth doing for its own sake. The only reason he is doing it is for the reward.

Kids who were invited to play with another child so that they could get access to his toys or were offered cookies for playing with the child, were less interested in playing with the other child on future occasions.

In one representative study, young children were introduced to an unfamiliar beverage called kefir. Some were just asked to drink it; others were praised Those children who received either verbal or tangible rewards consumed more of the beverage than other children, as one might predict. But a week later these children found it significantly less appealing than they did before, whereas children who were offered no rewards liked it just as much as, if not more than, they had earlier.
There is a story of an elderly man who was harassed and insulted by a crowd of 10 year olds as they passed his house on their way home from school. One afternoon after listening to their insults – how stupid, bald and ugly he was , he came up with a plan. He announced to the kids that if they came back tomorrow he would pay them a dollar each for their efforts. Amazed and excited they arrived even earlier and began throwing insults with much fervor. The old man , true to his word paid everyone his dollar. He then announced – do the same tomorrow and  you will get 25 cents for your trouble. The kids thought that it was still worth their while and came back the following day to taunt him .At the first catcall, he walked over with his quarters paid off his hecklers. From now on, he announced I can only give you a penny for doing this. The kids looked  at each other in disbelief. ' A penny – forget it ' and they never came back.

Two groups of kids were asked to evaluate and give their opinions about a collection of puzzles after playing with them for half an hour. One group was paid by the company for their time. When the half an hour was up , all but one of the kids from the reward group stopped playing with the puzzles . Kids from the non-reward group had to be pulled away from the puzzles. Rewards got in the way of the kids developing any interest and intrinsic reward in doing the puzzles.