Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Parenting approaches – What questions should we be asking?

I always ask the following questions when reviewing a particular ' parenting approach '.

 Is it a ' working with ' approach with children focusing on relationship and with problems solved in a collaborative way or a 'doing to' approach focusing enhancing parenting authority and control using behavior modification techniques and extrinsic motivation.

 I also ask whether the child's needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness are met with the particular approach.

 The starting point of each approach may be different.  Collaborative Problem solving originated out of a need to help challenging kids where traditional parenting and behavior modification techniques were failing them because their problems were lagging skills and not motivation. The CPS mantra is children do well if they can and not children do well if they want to. Kids would prefer to be successful, adaptable and flexible. While CPS does not use extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation of the child is being supported because the needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness are being met.? Other working with approaches like Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting start out with an ' attachment –relationship ' approach to parenting and focus on relationship and the academic-socio-moral growth of the child. CPS is very much the HOW of the 'working with 'parenting approaches.

 Parents will obviously benefit from knowledge of various working with approaches as they complement each other.

Collaborative Problem solving - Steven Covey 7 Habits for highly effective People

I always ask the following QUESTIONS ( click)  when reviewing a particular ' parenting approach '. Is it a ' working with approach  that addresses the child's needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness or a 'doing to' approach focusing on  enhancing parental authority and control. Steven Covey's approach is clearly a working with approach that addresses the needs of kids.

How does the CPS approach fit in with Steven Covey's  7 Habits of Highly effective people.?
A habit is the intersection of knowledge – what to do and why with the Skill of how to do it and the Motivation preferably intrinsic to do it.

Habit I  - Be Proactive
Traditional parenting is reactive offering rewards, consequences and punishments as a consequence of a behavior. CPS encourages Parents to be pro-active and solve problems that are predictably and frequently occurring with kids. In the heat of the moment is a bad time for engaging in CPS ,  ' out of the moment at an agreed time and place will ensure better discussion.

Habit 2- Begin with the End in Mind
Parents should have their long term goals for their goals and needs of their kids in mind. In particular CPS has the goal of solving problems in a way that is mutually satisfactory. However, parents must not go into the process with a preconceived ' solution '  and the belief that using Plan B= using CPS is the best way of getting kids to comply with their solution.

Habit 3- Put First Things First
First we make a list of lagging skills in the context of unsolved problems. We can't work on all problems at once , so parents need to prioritize 2-3 problems. The others we will put on the shelf = use Plan C , or the child's plan. Here we also reduce the number of negative interactions between parent and child. We need to  plan as to how to use Plan B with the particular problem.

Habit 4- Think Win/Win
CPS is more than think win/win. We want mutually satisfactory solutions that address the concerns of both the parent and child , not just the solutions they presented.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.
The first stage of the CPS process – the empathy stage focuses on gathering information about the child's concerns. We need to forget all our 'theories' about the child's concerns and why the child is behaving in such away. An effective solution will depend on having a clear understanding of the child's concerns and the child is more likely to ' hear' our concerns if he feels understood and  supported.

Habit 6 – Synergize
Synergy occurs when we integrate all the other habits. The highest form of synergy occurs when we apply  the 4 unique human endowments – self awareness ,conscience=our morality, imagination=creativity, and independent will power- , the motive of Win/Win and the skills of empathic communication to the toughest challenges of life. In the CPS process Synergy allows us to move out of our comfort zones and relinquish control , be more open to other solutions and begin to trust the new developing relationship we have with the child.

Habit 7-Sharpen the Saw
Parenting is a very tough and messy. Parents need to nurture themselves and take care of their physical, spiritual, mental and social/emotional needs. Becoming better at CPS takes time , learning , practice and a belief that the approach addresses the needs of your child and the family as a whole,  promotes trust, relationship and bonding.