Over the next few Tool Box Tuesdays, I will be spotlighting the foundational perspectives that my work is rooted in. When I pause to consider what the theme is that runs through them all I see a theme of respect of the individual. And one might think, well gosh, that must be a theme that runs through all foundations. But in my experience consulting with a wide variety of teams, this is not always the case. Respect for the individual begins always with the social work motto of "starting where the person is" and grows from there with learning who the person is, who the person wants to be. Recognizing their strengths and recognizing their right to a developmentally based approach tailored to their unique needs.
And so I've digressed from what I consider one of the foundations to understanding behavior: Kids do well if they can- a motto - and then entire philosophy coined by Dr. Ross Greene. Give the clip a look see below, then we'll discuss a little bit more how this plays out as a foundation.
Alright, "Kids do well if they can" fundamentally different from the foundation of "Kids do well if they wanna". Let's first consider the extremely different roles these two philosophies put us, the adults in. As he says, from a Kids do well if they wanna perspective I'm left with the increased motivation role and explaining the behaviors from a "testing limits", oppositional standpoint. Let's take a moment to consider how this makes us feel. As parents, we've all fallen into the kids do well if they wanna perspective and been left feeling like, "wooo, they are just trying to push my buttons today!". Chances are with that narrative our own level of stress is going to rise and in turn this will impact our response repertoire by limiting it. No matter your parenting philosophy we can never do our best when we feel stressed and targeted.
Kids do well if they can changes the narrative to exploring- what's going wrong here? What skill is missing? What problem is unsolved? Checking in with how well the child slept last night, when the last time they ate was and if they are sick or sensorily dysregulated. It shifts the focus from the personal to the environment and things you can actually do something about. Stress lowers and your repertoire of responses broadens.
Richard Lavoie's FAT City dovetails so nicely with this approach. If you haven't seen it, although the hairstyles are a bit dated, I can't recommend it enough. I wrote a bit about it here: http://guidingfamilies.blogspot.com/2013/03/tuesday-tool-box-support.html
Until next week,
Have a topic you'd like me to cover? Just ask. :)
*Dr. Greene has many other wonderful clips that more fully flesh out these ideas, and the Collaborative Problem Solving Approach which I highly recommend http://www.livesinthebalance.org/walking-tour-parents.
His list of "Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems" can be quite eye opening as well http://www.livesinthebalance.org/paperwork*