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Ask yourself – What's the intention behind this behavior?
i. Child is unruly at the shop.
ii. Child has spoiled the whole wall scribbling crayons.
iii. Child has cheated in a test.
iv. Child hits another in school bus over some stickers.
No child wants to be a problem child. Look beyond and we shall see that behind every action is a positive intention. We would also realize that it’s the action that needs to change not the intention. Given this shift in our outlook, it becomes simpler to see solutions that are non-punitive.
i Child is bored and seeks some entertainment/ involvement/ missing play time etc.
ii. Wanted to draw something/ felt neglected/ wants your attention, is angry and saw this as a way of expressing etc.
iii. Wanted to score as others/ come up to your expectations/ is afraid of low marks/ didn’t understand the topic etc.
iv. Not to appear cowardly/ felt mistreated and wanted the altercation to be fair/ expressing his anger, etc.
Whatever be the reason, it seems to be a good enough reason from the child’s point of view. If we were to show our acceptance of their intentions, possibly their desire to change the consequent action would be much higher. Forget children, this applies to everybody.
Use this magical Acceptance Frames Triangle:
> I Agree > I Respect > I Appreciate
Say I AGREE (with whatever you can)
If you can’t agree with the child, you can at least RESPECT his or her opinion and the right to express;
If you do not respect, you can at least APPRECIATE the concern for the outcome.
Examples from situation used above (take it depending upon whether you agree, or respect or appreciate):
i. (a) I agree that shopping is boring for you. Maybe there are other ways of making it fun.
(b) I respect you for coming out shopping with me. I wonder how we can make it interesting for you.
(c) I appreciate your finding some way to keep yourself busy. Can we think of some other options?
Acceptance Triangle works because it seeks similarities between you and the child. Dissimilarities put them on either defensive or offensive. However, showing acceptance through similarities puts them on expressive. Two more examples from above (we leave the 2nd situation as an exercise for you to practice):
iii (a) (It’s unlikely that we can ‘agree’ to any reason for cheating, so lets leave this frame).
(b) I respect you for answering some questions honestly and to best of your ability.
I was wondering why for others you needed to cheat.
(c) I appreciate your concern for marks. If I can help you in any way to do better in tests I am …..
iv (a) I agree it was wrong on his part to take your sticker. I wonder what could be other ways to tell him that.
(b) I respect you for being bold enough to express your feelings. I think you are resourceful enough to think of other ways to do that.
(c) I appreciate your concern for your things. Maybe it will help you if you showed him this concern in some other way.
If you feel, “hey, this sounds awkward”, then just consider if you were to speak Russian for the first time, “wouldn’t you sound awkward?” We need to learn this new language, because acceptance frames are positive frames. They don’t destruct on the past, but construct on the future. Isn’t that what disciplining is all about?