How do you meet moments of intensity and frustration with your child(ren)? When you see a problem, how do you work to find a solution – and then implement that solution?
As adults, sometimes we respond with what Dr. Ross Greene, author of The Explosive Child and founder of Lives in the Balance, calls Plan A: the imposition of adult will. In other words, we attempt to fix the situation through exerting our control. Sometimes, this is needed (i.e. stopping a child from falling out of a second story window). Other times, though, this approach leads directly to power struggles, frustration, punishment and equally disturbing – a lack of durable problem solving skills for ourselves and our children.
Dr. Greene offers an alternative that we have been implementing in our family for the past couple of years – and it is life changing. Plan B is all about solving problems proactively and collaboratively – with our children and yes, even very young children. The more I lean into Plan B, the more connected, honest and open my relationships become with my children. Stress is reduced, cooperation is increased and we simply like to be around each other more.
While no one wants to claim a panacea in parenting approaches, collaborative problem solving is more than an approach – it’s a life skill. As we support our children in growing into their strengths, problem solving is one skill we all need. Along the way, they (and we) can also learn many other helpful skills while we learn how to recognize and solve unsolved problems.
Amy Bryant, of Parenting Beyond Punishment, and I discussed collaborative problem solving as part of the No Spank Challenge on Friday, April 17th at 7pm Eastern Time. Click here to listen to the recording.
For the past twenty plus years, I’ve read a lot of parenting books and studied various approaches to guiding our children. Collaborative problem solving brings it all home, into our everyday interactions as family members, in a very direct way. If you’ve been searching for ways to address problems in your family, I strongly encourage you to listen to the call or visit Dr. Greene’s website with the links below.
Take gentle care,
Lives in the Balance Resources
- Parents/Families overview – http://www.livesinthebalance.org/parents-families
- Walking Tour for Parents (walks parents through the three steps of the Collaborative & Proactive Solutions model – change your lenses, identify lagging skills and unsolved problems, solve problems) – http://www.livesinthebalance.org/walking-tour-parents
- Paperwork (online resources to help implement CPS, some I’ll mention during the call) – http://www.livesinthebalance.org/paperwork
- One page overview of the model (PDF) – http://www.livesinthebalance.org/sites/default/files/One%20Page%20CPS%2011-12-12_2.pdf
Photo credit: Stephan Hochhaus
Are you struggling as a parent? If so, I’d like to share something with you: a story and some hope.