Monday, November 15, 2010

Plan B- Step 3 - invitation to brainstorm mutually satisfying solutions

Before we start the CPS process we should try to connect with the child and enter his world. Pro-active , out of the moment problem solving enables us to find a good time and place to first connect , maybe over a treat , to feel good about one another and then move into the problem solving process.

The first step in the collaborative problem solving process is the empathy step where we focus on gathering information about the child's concerns and if necessary we reassure him that we are not going to force him to do anything – use Plan A but we just want to listen and hear his concerns and perspective.

The second step is then putting your concerns on the table, laying the concerns side by side and then defining the problem in an objective way.

The third step is the invitation to brainstorm and find various mutually satisfying solutions which are realistic and doable. We should try and find more than one solution.

We need to remember that the process of CPS provides learning opportunities and acquiring skills. It is a process and not a technique. Techniques focus on achievement or the end result. CPS focuses on the process. Every step of the way , you and your child are learning new skills.


Invitation to Brainstorm

Frame the problem:

“I wonder if there’s a way that….” (repeat their concerns and your concerns)

Give kid first crack at it (“Do you have any ideas?) -- but provide help if needed

The New, Improved Invitation - from the blog


Since the model described in the book Treating Explosive Kids: The Collaborative Problem Solving Approach is a fairly new model, one of the most exciting things is watching it develop over time. We are constantly on the lookout for ways to improve the model so it’s easier to understand and more effective to use. Hearing about the successes and failures of folks like you trying the model lets us know what works and what still needs some work. And then these blogs provide a good way for us to get new developments in the model out to you all quickly. So here’s one of the latest:

The first two steps of Plan B (the Empathy step and the Define the Problem step) are intended to get your child’s concerns and then your concerns on the table. The third step is the Invitation where you invite your child to help brainstorm solutions that reconcile those two sets of concerns. In the past, we instructed people to use generic invitations like: “Let’s see how we can solve this. Do you have any ideas?” or “Let’s see how we can work this out. Do you have any ideas?” But recently we realized that sometimes generic invitations like this left people short, and the first response from the kid was often something like, “Nope!” or “Solve what? Work what out?!” Not surprising really since many challenging kids have trouble with focus and working memory(both things needed to retain all the information you gathered in the first two steps of Plan B)! So nowadays, we suggest using much more specific Invitations that recap the concerns to be reconciled. Using a phrase like, “I wonder if there’s way …” can also help lead a horse to water (or in this case, lead your kid and you to some possible solutions!). So here’s what the new, improved Invitation might sound like then: “I wonder if there’s way for you to be comfortable and yet still look half way decent for the party. Got any ideas? Or I wonder if there’s a way that you can make sure to get some time playing your Game boy without it interfering with your homework. Do you have any ideas? Or I wonder if there’s way that you can have a snack when you’re hungry without losing your appetite for dinner?” Now, ready for a few more examples on some tougher issues? The process is still the same: “I wonder if there’s a way for you to be able to stay out late with you friends with us still knowing where you are and what you are up to. Got any ideas? Or I wonder if there’s way to show your boyfriend how much you care about him without moving too fast or risking getting pregnant? Or I wonder if there’s a way to help slow down your mind at night so you can fall asleep without having to use drugs that are illegal and might be addictive?”

Of course all of these new, improved Invitations can only be possible after doing the hard work of the first two steps of Proactive Plan B to clarify each person’s concerns. Not even the best invitation can rescue Plan B from poorly defined concerns unfortunately! Oh, and by the way, when your kid starts getting irritated with hearing you say, “I wonder if there’s a way” all the time, feel free to depart from the script and say it in your own words! Maybe something like, “There’s got to be a way that …” or “Let’s figure out a solution so that …” Hope that helps. Good luck!


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