Monday, October 15, 2012

Secrets of Discipline - Ronald Morrish - a CPS/SDT perspective

I tend to judge parenting/teaching books that focus on behavior through the eyes of Ross Greene's CPS – collaborative problem solving approach and the  Self Determination theory. 'The secrets of discipline for parents and teachers' by Ronald Morrish seems promising  by teaching lagging skills and avoiding rewards and punishment , but  Morrish's book about discipline is just a more sophisticated version of imposing your will and getting compliance by ' doing to kids '.

Moorish suggests 3 important building blocks to sound discipline – Train compliance, teach skills, and manage choices.

He talks about ' training compliance ' so kids out of habit comply with adult directions, rules and limits. This is done by using your parental presence and authority, insisting and persisting, direct instructions and supervision to get compliance, forcing do-overs and if that does not work punishment or consequences.

Behavior management is done by managing the choices of kids. Most parenting books say if you want compliance – give choices. This is still plan A – imposing adult will. Do what I say - A, B, or C.

Children are encouraged to reflect on the outcomes of their actions, whether they were appropriate and successful. Now a successful outcome won't be measured by the reward or consequence given for the kid's compliance or not as Moorish does not recommend rewards and punishment but rather the reward or punishment is more subtle , in the form of parental approval, displeasure or disappointment. As he recommends parents to ask the misbehaving kid – would you have made the same decision if I had been standing next to you? Then why do you need me to stand next to you ? You should be doing what I want without me asking you.

Parents can also disguise punishment in the form of natural consequences. Where a kid has been lying or stealing etc or acted inappropriately , the parent can limit the kid's freedom by saying he cannot be trusted or not responsible enough. According to Moorish and many others being responsible is a kid knowing how to follow instructions and comply.

Skills are taught in a top-down manner again in order to get compliance.

The Self Determination theory says that when the 3 basic needs of kids – autonomy, competence and relatedness are met, kids become self determined, intrinsically motivated and internalize values and their behavior becomes meaningful rather than one of habit. They tend to ask what type of person do I want to be, does this reflect my values.

By focusing on compliance Moorish ignores fostering the kid's autonomy. When limits are set together with parents and problems are solved in a collaborative way kids internalize limits and with the help of parental guidelines rather than rules, kids actually learn to create limits themselves.

Kids show responsibility not by following instructions but by 'generating ' choices and articulating their thoughts, feelings and opinions. Kids learn to express and get their concerns met in appropriate ways in the context of the needs of the family, friends or classmates. They also learn to take perspectives and to actually appreciate and understand the reasoning behind a parental, teacher or a friend's request.

Parenting is more about kids being able to trust parents, to see them as a help, as somebody who understands their concerns and cares about them. It is about relationship. Moorish sees relationship as serving discipline and blows kids concerns off the table and trust being the responsibility of the kid – you can be trusted with the freedom I give you as you don't follow instructions.

Moorish talks about teaching skills like  resolving conflict, working and playing with others and being cooperative. If the parental focus is on compliance, plan A= imposing adult will ,where is the parent modeling and teaching collaboration and conflict resolution skills.

From the experience of RDI – relationship developmental intervention therapists skills need to be taught in a constructivist way using parental guided participation to encourage kids thinking and autonomy in the learning process. The  most important skill being taught is ' relationship' , not compliance. The CPS – collaborative problem solving approach teaches skills indirectly by solving problems in a collaborative way. The purpose of teaching skills is not to get compliance but to promote intrinsic motivation and relatedness.

Moorish's parenting/teaching practices fail children badly by ignoring their needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness.

 here are 2 summaries of the book 

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