Sunday, December 31, 2006

Dr. Ross Greene

I did attend a training by Ross Greene ( at the Brattleboro Retreat ( Ross Greene does not speak much about trauma. However his approach that children do well if they can, and that defiance and other problems are caused by learning disabilities, are very compatible with our work. He states that rewards and punishments teach that external bad effects rapidly follow bad behavior, when you are caught. This is not always true in the world, and leads mainly to an emphasis on not being caught- a radar detector approach to speeding. Learning how your behavior affects others is a much more powerful force for change.

As I have often stated, it all goes back to your formulation of what you think is going on when that kid is acting up. Why do you think he is not doing well? If you believe it is because he doesn’t want to, then an approach of increasing motivation (rewards and punishments) is appropriate. But if you believe he doesn’t know how, then a skill teaching method is called for.

Ross Greene had some thoughts to add to our investigation of manipulation. He stated as others have that our kids are bad manipulators- their manipulation is too obvious and makes other people feel bad. Good manipulation is more subtle, makes the other person feel they are doing just what they want to do. It involves planning and organization and the other person does not know they are being manipulated, or does not resent it. So- can we start working "being a good manipulator" into our skills classes?

I liked the phrase Dr. Greene used: "decisive not punitive". When we first teach staff about the Restorative Approach some feel that it means that they should ignore kid’ harmful behaviors, not step up to what they are doing that is hurting others. The best Restorative Work requires very active involvement with the kid and lots of feed back on how what they are doing affects others. Decisive but not punitive!

Dr. Greene describes our role as being a "surrogate frontal lobe" for the kids while helping them grow one of their own.

Dr. Greene’s method of collaborative problem solving is certainly an excellent idea. One thing I like was the suggestion to teach kids a few key phrases they can use when they are starting to feel upset. As we know, our kids don’t know what to do when they become over whelmed, don’t know how to ask for help, and resort to old solutions such as throwing chairs. Learning some phrases like: "Gimme a minute"; "I need a break"; "Something is the matter"; "I can’t talk about that now"; and "I don’t know what to do" could be a great help.

Dr. Greene suggested there are really only three basic ways to solve a problem between two people: ask for help, give a little, or do it a different way.

I enjoy the convergence of these various methodologies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree- I have always thought that good manipulation is the kind that one does not notice. I say all the time that our kids manipulate but aren't very good at it whereas we all manipulate in our lives all the time and we are good at it. I believe that most people would like to think that they do not manipulate others but it's human nature to get our needs met any way we can....