Recently I completed a series of CPS parent workshops. The participants were enthusiastic and engaged and the conversations were very thoughtful. During the conversations what quite often happens is the participants realize that they have very similar concerns about children’s behaviour. Of course some issues and specific cases can be extremely challenging and require more intervention beyond CPS. Some of the more common challenging behaviours kids demonstrate occur when they don’t meet expectations related to getting up in the morning or going to bed at night, homework completion, getting to school on time, personal hygiene, amount of time with technology, doing chores, switching from one activity to another or curfew time. Parents benefit from these group situations because they can hear what others have done when faced with similar situations and how they may have applied their CPS learning.
At the completion of the program most parents had tried 1 or 2 Plan B conversations with varying degrees of “success.” In some cases the chid and parent successfully arrived at a couple good ideas to try and solve the problem. In a couple of other situations the Plan B was not as successful. During the sessions we made a point of helping people understand that a success with Plan B does not necessarily mean that it is completed from start to finish or in one session or that parent and child arrive at solutions that are perfectly implemented. Success with Plan B could mean a number of different things. Simply doing Plan B should be looked upon as success as the person is moving in the right direction. As Dr. Stuart Ablon said, “ doing plan B poorly is better than not at all.” It’s important to stay at it. You are making inroads into achieving the five goals of CPS when you begin solving problems collaboratively, even if the Plan B does not work out as you’d like.
All the parents who completed the program indicated that they had accomplished three very important things during their CPS journey. Parents said that they had made a “mind shift” and adopted the CPS philosophy that “Kids do well if they can.” This thinking now predominates how they view challenging behaviour, that it is caused by a lack of ”skill, not will,” on the part of the child. Secondly since they now have a better understanding of why kids behave in challenging ways they are able to stay calmer or more regulated when the behaviour occurs. They now explain the behaviour as a lag in skills not a desire on the part of the child to get, or avoid, something. They are now more confident about how to handle the situation and help everyone stay regulated. Finally all the parents want to try using Plan B to begin solving the problems that precipitate the behaviour. They now try very hard not to focus the behaviour.
By allowing this “mind shift” to occur, increasing their understanding of lagging skills and increasing their skill using Plan B parents can achieve more success helping their child build problem solving skills, and meet the expectations that life places in front of them.