Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Collaborative Problem Solving

I have been reading a book titled, "The Explosive Child" by Ross Greene. He advocates for a Collaborative Problem Solving strategy which has 3 steps. One is to empathize and reassure. Two is to define the problem and three is to invite the child to help solve the problem.

I gave it a try last week. I waited until Akila was in a good mood, we were coloring together. I brought up one of her triggers, which is bedtime. It is not a huge trigger, I thought I would start with a small one. I asked her what she thinks of bedtime, if she likes it or not. She said she didn't like it. I asked why, she said she doesn't like going to sleep and it makes her mad when we tell her it is bedtime. I told her, "Oh, so you don't like it when we tell you it is bedtime (empathizing by doing reflective listening). At this point in the conversation, she was starting to get quite agitated. I then asked if she had any other ideas of how we could let her know when it is bedtime. She got instantly angry. I told her it was not even close to bedtime now, I just wanted to talk with her about it so we could find a way for her to not get so angry at bedtime. She had no ideas. I was asking her if she would like mom or dad to write her a note saying it was bedtime, or if we should set up a secret password that only she knew which would warn her of the time remaining before bedtime. She did not like any of the ideas, they were all making her mad.

Her history with bedtime, is that when we let her know how much time is left before bed, she gets furious and rages until bedtime. No matter if we use a timer, or do it a different way, she gets instantly angry. Again, it is not one of the situations that gets totally out of control, but a smaller one I thought we could start with. We will see if I have more luck with this strategy next time.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I also use CPS with my child and as a clinician, wiht clients. I think the reason CPS did not work for your child is because the steps were not fully completed. It is easy to miss steps or do them in the wrong order at first. I still do it sometimes.
You never got to your child's "concern" or empathized with that concern. That is an important step. You can not move on to the next steps until you fully understand your child's concern and validate that concern. For example, your child told you that she doesn't like going to bed, therefore does not like when you tell her its time. First, I am not sure her concern was clearly stated. For young children you need to help them articulate their concern. you may even have to help them guess at their concerns. For example, you may want to find out "why" she doesn't like going to bed. Is it because she is having fun playing and can't transition quickly, is it because she has nightmares, is it because she doesn't want to be alone?
You empathized with her, but your telling her to go to bed is not her true concern.
You may also want to think about her lagging skills? Are one of those areas contributing to her difficulty with bed?
I might try the conversation again, this time focusing more on targeting her real concerns.