Thursday, July 8, 2010

'Children do well if they can '

The underlying philosophy behind the Collaborative Problem solving approach - CPS is that ' children do well if they can' and not that ' children do well if they want to.'

Most people including kids would prefer to be successful and do well, be accepted and behave adaptively in various situations. So instead of asking ourselves how can I motivate this child to want to do well, we should ask ourselves what is getting in his way so I can help him to be successful.

CPS posits that the child may be lacking skills in the areas of frustration tolerance, flexibility and responding adaptively in situations that place high demands on those lacking skills. We can describe the maladaptive behavior as a learning disability and here our theme Parenting is Learning ' is crucial. It helps us to learn about our child's challenges and missing skills, seeing his world through his eyes and together in a collaborative way find mutually satisfying solutions to problems. The lacking skills include executive functions skills deficits, language processing skills, emotional regulation skills, social skills and cognitive flexibility. When we use CPS process we not only promote the acquiring of these cognitive life skills, but we foster attachment and connection , creating a trusting relationship which is vital for learning .

CPS is not a technique but a process where over time a child and in most cases a parent as well is acquiring skills, and learning to trust the process. Parents have been advised by therapists and books to ' choose their battles ' . They must learn to ignore minor issues , be very firm on the major stuff and impose their will. CPS calls imposing adult will Plan A ( adult ) and letting things go Plan C ( child's will ). Giving choices is also Plan A as the parent says ' Do it my way – this or that '. Plan C in the CPS plan is not completely ignoring the behavior , but rather putting some of our expectations on the shelf for the time being, thus helping us to prioritize which issues and problems need to be dealt with first. Plan C is important as it helps to reduce negative interactions and helps create a friendly and relaxed atmosphere so learning can take place. Parenting is not about battles and choosing them. Parenting is about learning , being the ' guide by the side ' , working with your child to meet each others' expectations, further goals and solve problems.

Plan B is what CPS is mainly about . This is where both child and adult concerns are brought to the table . Most parents and kids confuse this with negotiation. Negotiation is about putting ' solutions ' on the table and this leads to bartering and a dueling of solutions. Most people presents their concerns as solutions . Plan B is more about revealing concerns and perspectives , defining the problem and only then looking for a mutually satisfying solution. Imho the brilliance of the model is that it teaches kids and care givers to distinguish between ' concerns' and solutions' and thus facilitate collaborative problem solving. The process is ' solution' oreintated but we need to look at concerns first and this opens up the possibility of finding not only one , but various alternate solutions.

There are plenty of resources for both parents , teachers, clinicians and other care givers. I recommend 2 web sites thinkkids and Collaborative Problem Solving . There is plenty of information including video clips showing the Plan B in action and podcasts. If you decide to buy the CPS books - The explosive child - Ross Greene , Treating Explosive children- Greene and Ablon , and Lost at School - Ross Greene , please try and get the latest editions as the model is being continuously updated.

I hope to share more insights on the blog. I welcome feedback and questions . This is how parents learn.


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