An Amazing Approach to Working with Challenging Behaviors

Posted on April 20, 2018

An Amazing Approach to Working with Challenging Behaviors

I am obsessed with the work of Dr. Ross W. Greene right now! As part of my research on behavioral management programs for a project I’m working on, I came across his name and his Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) approach in several other books. I picked up his book Lost at School and quickly understood why so many people love his approach.

Greene claims that most behavioral problems result because people do not possess the skills to succeed in the situational demands we place upon them. Everyone wants to succeed, those with the right set of skills are successful. When we discipline and consequence for negative behaviors we are punishing people, not because they are choosing to fail but for not having the skills necessary to thrive. Punishing people who we have not set up for success is highly ineffective and explains why many of our current approaches fail to elicit behavioral changes.

CPS is a structured cognitive behavioral approach utilizing reflective listening to get to the “why” behind certain behaviors that occur in very specific situations. While his books are focused on children, CPS provides a framework for work with adults as well. Also, CPS fits in philosophically and in practice with approaches such as Motivational Interviewing and others that rely on active listening.

As I read more about evolving best practices for behavioral management in schools, I find an interesting similarity between how educational thinkers are changing from strict behavioral approaches to more cognitive behavioral strategies which involve a dual focus on the behavior and the thinking behind the behavior. It reminds me of where psychology was in the late 1990’s (I was a student) when cognitive behavioral approaches were gaining popularity and achieving strong measurable results. I’m excited and hopeful that this evolution in education will bring forth new and innovative solutions like CPS.

If you work with kids, you must read Lost at School! If you work with parents, or are a parent yourself, Greene’s Raising Human Beings need to be on the top of your reading list. If you only work with adults, I would still highly recommend Lost at School acknowledging that you will need to adapt the approaches slightly for your work (but you’ll find this easy to do).

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