Behavior: Collaborative Problem Solving

Collaborative Problem Solving

By Kim Kline, Director of Ministry Development

At club, one of our biggest challenges is dealing with difficult behaviors of kids. In our last online workshop for leaders, we discussed this topic and presented some strategies for dealing with difficult behavior, including collaborative problem solving

The idea behind collaborative problem solving is that “kids do well if they can.” In this approach, the adult invites the kid to take ownership of forming a solution. This may not always be possible in the context of your club, but whenever you can pull a student aside to have a conversation like this, it is highly beneficial in helping students to take ownership of their behavior and work towards improvement in a relationally focused way.

Here are three steps to implementing this strategy:

Step 1- Seek understanding.
Listen and ask questions to try and pinpoint some of the underlying issues for the misbehavior. Before jumping to solve the problem, ask questions that can help you understand what’s driving the child’s actions.

  • “Why are you upset?”
  • “Why don’t you want to participate?”
  • “What don’t you like about this activity?”

Step 2- Identify and share your concern.

In this step, you are still NOT jumping in with a solution or telling the kid what to do. Instead, you state the problem and share why you are concerned. A good way to make sure the kid knows that they were heard is by using AND instead of BUT.

“I understand that you feel ______ and my concern is that _________.”

Step 3- Work cooperatively with the child to propose a solution.

Brainstorm potential solutions together and choose one that is both realistic and helps to solve the problem at hand. Allow the kid to think through some ideas. Allow them to share and be heard no matter if it works or not. Help them to understand why their ideas don’t work and keep thinking of ideas until they work for both the kid and adult.

Did you miss the behavior workshop? Check out our calendar of online trainings for upcoming opportunities here:

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