There may be various reasons why a kid is not willing to engage in Plan b – collaborative problem solving. But we can still put a lot of effort on having plenty of one on one conversations and dialog on general non- emotive subjects focusing on perspective taking, identifying concerns, consequential thinking , brain storming mutually satisfying solutions.
If we have decided that there is nothing in the list below getting in the way of the child engaging in problem solving, we may need to be more assertive and persistent in sitting down around the table and starting to talk and work through problems.
Sometimes one can wait for the kid to come to you and ask for a favour or some request. ' I am happy to do my best and help you , our relationship is important to me , before I get moving I want a short chat with you to hear your perspective about the problem we are having. Kids tend to agree to start the conversation.
Letter writing also helps. A kid can read it in his own time , internalize what has been written and work out a response in his own time without any pressure.
Family meetings , where the focus is on hearing everyone's perspectives , rather than blaming others can encourage kids to participate in CPS.
Generally kids will talk if you have been having fun with them, and there is plenty of chatting and perspective taking.
The approach of ' the world stops until we speak ' may work if the kid sees the move more as an expression of the urgency of the matter rather than trying to pressure him to speak.
Factors which may be getting in the way of participating in Plan B
*He may not have the language or language skills to engage in problem solving.
We can ask yes/no questions and proceed from there
Or make a list of tentative /possible concerns and ask him to choose from the list a concern.
*We may be trying to do plan b ' in the moment ' and emotions and emotional baggage is getting in the way.
We need to remember to do plan B – out of the moment , maybe over a treat , out of the home . First create an atmosphere where you both feel good about each other and are sharing perspectives and agreeing about certain things - general non-emotive stuff .
*The kid may be taken by surprise when we approach him to talk about a problem.
Sometimes agreeing ahead of time to discuss an issue will help him transition into the process.
*Our invitation step may be too vague so the kid may have difficulty in figuring out what we want from him.
Use wh questions , break the problem down into parts etc
*The kid does not trust the process, sees plan B as plan A in the guise of Plan B.
Go slow with focusing on his concerns. Instead of stating a concern in a negative way , maybe for example ask – what would you like to do when I am reading to your brother ? instead of ' I have noticed that you play with the lights while I am trying to read to your brother , focus on the positive. When we go slow and focus on the kid's concerns, just getting his input and perspective, the kid does not feel we are trying to impose a solution.
Use ' I am not saying No ', I am not going to force you to do something which you don't want to do ' - I just want to understand you side of the story , your perspective , your concerns.
*Avoiding talking is a poor coping skill. It maintains the status quo and the kid has not committed himself to anything.
We need lots of discussion on non-emotive issues, taking perspectives and identifying concerns of other people, animals etc , general chatting we using dialog questions to promote conversation so the kid does the speaking and we the listening.
We can then ask the kid – why he finds it easier to talk about certain issues and does not like to talk about this issue.
Maybe a third party could help facilitate discussion.