The 5-3-3 of CPS: A Summary
Collaborative Problem-Solving (CPS) involves looking at explosive children with a different philosophy. CPS describes explosive children as having Learning Disabilities in 5 different pathways which are needed to adaptively solve problems and make decisions in their lives. Just as a child with a Learning Disability in reading is not making a choice not to read, a child with a LD in one of the 5 Pathways described below is not choosing to misbehave, have explosions, become destructive or aggressive, and continually behave in a way that prompts adults to behave in a way that creates more misery for the child. In other words, kids do well if they can. This is different than the common wisdom that “kids do well if they want to” which prescribes interventions focused on getting the child to “want to” do better (rewards and punishments). CPS teaches that explosive children are typically living a miserable and unhappy existence and do not lack the motivation to better. Rather, these children lack the skills to do better in their environment. Punishment and reward, without the development of the necessary skills to do better, are ineffective and create further frustrations for the child.
- Executive Functioning Skills: Problems with organization and planning, shifting activities or thoughts, Anticipating problems
- Language Processing Skills: Receptive or Expressive language difficulties cripple problem-solving because thinking and communicating both require language.
- Emotional Regulation Skills: Chronic irritability or other negative feelings impair the ability to control and modulate emotions even before a child is frustrated.
- Cognitive Flexibility Skills: Black and white, rigid, all-or-nothing, rule-bound, literal/concrete thinking gets in the way of seeing the grey in problem situations or social situations.
- Social Skills: Cognitive distortions/thinking errors, or deficits in skills needed to perceive the social environment and engage with others make relationships and social situations difficult.
3 Plans: (To work with behaviors and expectations)
- Plan A: Ask yourself: “Is the behavior important or undesirable enough to induce and endure a meltdown?”
- Increases the likelihood of explosive episodes through the imposition of adult will. Does not teach lagging skills. Does address adult concern/expectation.
- Reserved for very undesirable behaviors or safety concerns.
- Plan A behaviors should be behaviors that your child is able to meet on a fairly consistent basis.
- Plan A behaviors are behaviors which you are able to enforce.
- Plan C: Pick your battles! Low priority items which can be dealt with later on.
- Decreases the likelihood of explosive episodes by removing frustrations and modifying the environment so the child’s ability to cope is not outstripped by the demands of situations. Does not teach lagging skills. Does not address adult concern/expectation.
- Expectations which you have decided not to enforce or ignore for the time being. Can come back to it later.
- Plan B: Expectations which are important to meet. Adult serves a “surrogate frontal lobe” for child.
- Decreases the likelihood of explosive episodes by taking the child’s concerns into consideration and involving them in the solution. Teaches skills which will help the child deal with inflexibility and frustration in the future. Addresses adult concern/expectation as well as the child’s concern.
- Proactive Plan B is a planned conversation during a calm time. Emergency Plan B happens at the beginning stages of a meltdown and may help to avert the crisis. Proactive Plan B is easier and more effective because nobody is on the verge of crisis.
3 Steps of Plan B
Prethinking Plan B: Remember that you do not know where the plane is going to land when it takes off…
- Empathy plus Reassurance: Reflective listening or “I hear you” followed by reassurance that your are not using Plan A.
- Define the Problem: A problem is two concerns that have yet to be reconciled. Get the child’s concern first, then put yours on the table. Keep working until you have concerns rather than solutions.
- Invitation: Invite the child to solve the problem with you. “How could we work this out? Do you have any ideas?”-A solution should: Be doable by both parties, realistic, and mutually satisfactory.
This summary is based on: The Explosive Child by Ross W. Greene and training by J. Stuart Ablon. It is written for the Living Better with Challenging Children presentation series by it’s presenters, Mark Beach, Corey Jackson, and Rick Chamberlain who can be reached at 541.726.1465 or through http://groups.yahoo.com/group/collaborativeproblemsolving/