So you've read The Explosive Child, you've decided that you want to try Dr. Greene's approach with your challenging child. You're excited to try Plan B and solve some problems collaboratively and proactively. Great! But what if your child won't participate?
A big stumbling block for people just starting out with the Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) model - especially if they have a kid who tends to be on the more oppositional, demand-avoidant side - is that some kids clam up and refuse to participate in a parent-initiated Plan B conversation.
There are some good ways to work through this that are mentioned pretty frequently on Dr. Greene's radio show and in The B Team Facebook group: Make an appointment with your child to discuss the matter at a time that works better for them. Acknowledge to your child that they don't have to discuss this problem, and invite the child to talk about why they don't want to talk. Double check that your unsolved problem is well-worded (neutral, not clumped, free of behaviours, and so on).
So what if you tried all of this and your kid STILL won't talk to you? Here are some ideas for you to work on.
1. Have faith that your child will eventually participate in Plan B. (This model was refined - and has been amazingly effective with - young people whose unsolved problems got so big that they ended up in juvenile detention centres. It'll work for your kid.)
2. While you wait, use this time to immerse yourself in studying Plan B. Review the cheat sheets for Plan B and drilling. Print off copies and put them on the bathroom wall or next to your computer monitor. Listen to Dr Greene's radio shows in your car or while you're on the treadmill or washing dishes.
Remember that for some kids, the empathy step is all they need right now - they need time to get used to the change in your lenses and your approach before they'll be ready to hear your concerns or participate in problem-solving. So if you focus on getting really good at just the empathy step, you'll be in a great place when your child is eventually ready to do Plan B.
3. Practice! Practice on everyone. On your partner, your other kids, your co-workers... the person delivering your mail. Any time you notice you're about to discuss even a small problem with another person, you can do that in a Plan B way.
"Honey, I notice that there's a big scratch on the side of the car. What's up? ... Hmm, so when you got to work you were in a hurry, and you didn't realize you drove into the concrete pillar in the underground parking? I see... My concern is that the scratch doesn't look good, and we can't afford to take it to the body shop. Is there some way we can get this fixed?"
"The last package that was delivered to my house was torn apart and soaking wet. What's going on? ... ah, so you have been training a new delivery person, and they didn't remember to close the back of the parcel truck, and it was raining... Well, my concern is that this book I ordered is basically un-readable... uh-huh... thanks, I will gladly accept a $1000 gift certificate in compensation."
Any time you realize someone is complaining to you or having difficulty with something, use empathy. Get comfortable with the style of listening that Plan B calls for.
"You're tired of always being the one who makes a fresh pot of coffee at the coffee station. I would be, too. That sounds incredibly frustrating."
"Your boss complained about the report you wrote? After you stayed at the office late to finish it, too!"
"I can hear how upset you are about not getting three turns on the slide because recess ended... Everyone else got four turns? No wonder you're so sad."
Need more ideas? Check out my next post in this series, More ideas for reaching a reluctant "Plan Ber"
Photo "You can learn many things from children..." by Lori E. Burleson ~ licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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