Friday, April 1, 2011

Plan B- Collaborative Problem Solving

Earlier in the week, we talked a bit about the Plan A and Plan C approach to problem solving with kids.

To recap, Plan A is the authoritative, "Do it- NOW!" approach:

High drama, high energy, low impact because the same battles are fought again ad again. 

Plan C is the, "whatever- I'm too tired to fight with you" approach:

Low conflict, but not particularly effective at teaching problem solving.

When we hear the old, tired, advice, "Pick your battles," we are basically being guided to choose between Plan A, or Plan C. Fight, or let it go. It doesn't have to be this way.

Meet Plan B- The Collaborative Problem Solving Approach.

Plan B is when an adult leads a child through the problem solving process collaboratively- by working with the child.

There are three basic steps to Plan B-
1. Empathy/Understanding ("You don't like brushing your teeth. Hm. So it sounds like the toothpaste is yucky.")
2. Defining the Problem ("Here's the problem- I need you to brush your teeth so they stay healthy. It's a drag spending all of this money and time at the dentist.")
3. Invitation for Ideas/Brainstorming (So do you have any ideas on how we can solve this problem?)
In the video, the father and son moved through the Plan B process to come up with a peaceful solution they can both live with. I know this last video seems super unrealistic- but keep in mind the timing of the conversation- it was calm because it didn't happen at teeth-brushing time. The dad said something like, "I have been noticing we have been struggling about teeth brushing, what's up with that?" Plan B can be useful in the heat of the moment, but not as effectively as when brains are calm.

Reading about Plan B makes it seem simple. It is, but it isn't. The concepts are basic, but it takes a lot of practice.  There is a wealth of information at the Think:Kids website, and in the book The Explosive Child.

I really do encourage parents and educators to jump in and try the approach. Don't give up if it doesn't work right away- this is a major shift of communication, and it will take time.

1 comment:

Mel said...

I'm working really hard on this one. Gabe says he feels like I don't listen to him enough so I know I'm more of an A type person :( So we are going to work together to find a better communication strategy. He's in a difficult stage where he wants to do EVERYTHING his way which makes finding common ground even harder. But I know we are both frustrated with the way things have been. So thanks Katy for this because I'm working really hard to find what works for both Gabe and me :D