More ideas for reaching a reluctant "Plan Ber"

Mar 21, 2017 Vicki CPS, Plan B

Last time, I explored three ideas for parents who are learning to use Dr. Ross Greene's Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) model. Here are three more ideas for you.

4. Notice when your child gives you an opening to show empathy. Empathize about anything and everything! Your child is likely creating opportunities for you to go through just the empathy step, if nothing else. Give your child lots of experience feeling heard. You'll be surprised at how quickly your child notices the shift in your lenses.

"This meatloaf sucks." 

"Hm, you aren't enjoying the meatloaf. Can you tell me a little more about that?"

"We have to go to the grocery store AGAIN?" 

"Sounds like you're fed up with the grocery store."

"I can't believe (sister) is watching that stupid TV show." 

"You wish she'd watch something else, huh?"

5. Next, notice when your child is actually bringing a problem to you. This happens often, but you may not have noticed it until you started thinking like a Plan B parent. Sometimes our children are bursting to tell us about a problem -- be alert for that opportunity. It may not be very direct. It might start with a complaint (like in my point above) or maybe they're just hanging around getting in your way and sighing a lot. 

The child may even verbally attack you; some kids are not good at expressing concerns constructively. They just don't know any other way to "get it out" yet. Your job is to recognize the message behind the words, and to mentally step back from your knee-jerk reaction. 

"This meatloaf SUCKS! Why do you have to make @#$#@ meatloaf EVERY Friday? You are the worst mom!"

"You are really tired of meatloaf!"

"Well, DUH. Yes!"

This is your cue! You can start the empathy step here. Get your child's concerns on the table. You may not think meatloaf is a big deal, but it sounds like she does. Be curious about her perspective.

"Can you tell me what it is you don't like about meatloaf?" 

Watch for those moments! When they come up, you can very carefully start going through the steps of Plan B about a problem that is important to your child. Watch for signs that the child is done talking, or is overloaded by your responses, and be willing to back off if it seems like the conversation is going to end, even if no solutions have been found.

6. Most importantly: Connection, Connection, Connection. Build your relationship with your child. Do things with him, even things you don't especially like doing, but know he will love. Ask her to show you her video game. Take him bowling, watch her movie choice. What you do doesn't matter - just connect, and do it authentically, not because you want them to talk.

Get creative. Connect via text or email, or over being ok with them putting their songs with swearing on in the car. Serve the child's favourite food. Do some things for them that they can and mostly do for themselves. Surprise them by making them their lunch or putting their laundry away. (But don't expect or look for the thank you. They will notice, even if they don't say it.)

Thanks to Penny Mayo for contributing the last idea in this post. Connection is the glue that makes Plan B work!