Monday, May 14, 2012

Collaborative problem solving and values

It is important to convey to kids the values underlying words like CPS, talking, listening  and choices.

Kids often have difficulty in moving discussions in the direction of collaborative problem solving and not negotiation.  They will try to get the best bargain for themselves. So when it comes to sharing a computer with a sibling they will try to get the best deal - something close to a 100% access.  Anything less than a 100% is a compromise, it is giving up on what they would consider the optimal solution to address their needs.

When kids, parents, teachers and other care givers engage in collaborative problem solving they are also expressing values and beliefs.  It is a belief that we can consider the perspectives and concerns of all and try to address them  in a collaborative way by finding mutually satisfying solutions and work for the common good. Kids need to learn that best solutions are win-win , solutions that all can live with and not the  solution which that gives you the most. Successful negotiators know that they need to work towards a win-win but will try to first get as much for themselves as possible. Collaborative problem solving is different. We don't ignore our concerns , we just start with the concerns of others.

The problem also revolves on how we relate to ' choice'  -  individual choice or the choice of a people, friends or community . When we engage in cps, it seems clear that what must occasionally be restricted is not choice but individual choice. Cooperation opens up the way to so many more opportunities and choices despite the fact that individual choice may be compromised in some areas. We need to talk in the plural – we need to , or our problem , our choices.

Sometimes when we get stuck in the cps process, we need to show kids that the solution we offer does address their concerns in some way or at least elements of their concerns.  This helps them to be more flexible and adaptive.

Talking is more about sharing information rather than trying to get what you want. Listening is more about caring , giving the other person all your attention and empathy.  When try to address both our and the other's concerns by brainstorming mutually satisfying solutions or making a compromise – a bit of give and take we take caring a step further.

It is important to convey to kids the underlying values behind collaborative problem solving. If care givers just see it as technique that will help them get compliance or what they want , self centered values will be taught. But if talking is about sharing, listening is about caring , and solutions are worked out by collaborative problem solving and not negotiation we further reinforce the very values needed for CPS. We also need to reframe how we view choice – solutions and choices that further the goals of the family and it 's individual members or just individual choice.

1 comment:

  1. More than a technique, your work is a beacon that draws us all forward.
    Rachelle Sheely