Kids do well if they can

The Collaborative Problem Solving approach of Stuart Ablon and Ross Greene is a profound paradigm shift in working with children who struggle behaviorally. When we believe that kids “choose” to misbehave, “choose” to get in trouble, or “choose” to fail in school, we are coming from what I believe to be a flawed perspective. In this wonderful TED talk by Dr. Stuart Ablon (Rethinking Challenging Kids–Where There’s a Skill There’s a Way) the basics of the Collaborative Problem-Solving method are explored. Ablon and Greene believe in the premise “kids do well if they can.” If they can’t, then our job is to teach them how to do well, not to punish and restrict them when they don’t.

Greene and Ablon believe that kids who struggle with behavioral problems have difficulty with their executive functioning skills, skills that help them to problem-solve, be flexible and tolerate frustration. While we expect a two-year-old to melt down because they don’t have these skills yet, we don’t expect a 4th grader to fall apart if the teacher moves math before English or requires them to write a paragraph before they can play with the iPads. But, if a child is slower to develop executive functioning skills and hasn’t yet mastered problem-solving, or learned how to tolerate frustration, we can’t punish or “consequence” them into doing what their brain is not yet developed enough to do.

Parents who struggle with their own frustration tolerance and flexibility sometimes inadvertently create more of a battlefield in their home thinking that they have to be stricter and less flexible in order to get results. But what if your home could be more peaceful WHILE you are teaching your child valuable problem-solving and executive functioning skills? Have a listen. And then when you’re done think about ordering “The Explosive Child” by Ross Greene. It might radically change your life.

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