Thursday, November 6, 2014

Rethinking challenging kids-where there's a skill there's a way


  1. Fascinating! Though short on practical implementation. I'm still not clear how to practically apply this in most real life situations, expecially with teenagers (the example he gave was a piece of cake compared to what myself and I'm sure a lot of us deal with). But it really gave me a new perspective in dealing with my difficult (ok, "challenging") kid. I am going to do more research on this approach.
    Thanks for posting!!!

  2. Wrong wrong wrong. Some of my students get pleasure from being challenging. Trust me on this. There is no way to open a dialogue with them, because they -- get this -- simply tune. me. out. if I try to engage them to try and discover why they won't learn the topic at hand. And after the class, or if we are just talking casually, we get along great, talk about wide ranging topics, I learn interesting things from them; but If I try to guide the discussion back to learning, *Bang*, they enter the "Zone". So I call the parent and say I can't teach your kid, and the parent says, "Please keep meeting with him." So I do, but at least I'm not deceiving the parent into thinking I'm taking their money and actually transmitting any knowledge. These kids obviously "can" learn from me and "choose" not to. And the kids would be the first to tell you this -- I know, because I ask them.

  3. Amazing how even a simple youtube clip posted here can be controversial. Dr. Eidensohn, as a fellow Clinical Psychologist please do a little more research before posting clips or articles re: your area of expertise without giving the full picture. The originator and person who developed the CPS model is NOT Ablon. It is actually Dr. Ross Greene, the author of "The Explosive Child" and "Lost at School". This matter has been in litigation for the past 5 years and is currently before the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals. Like many things in life, there is a story behind a story. Dr. Greene is very forthright and honest about the legal proceedings, Ablon....not so much. Click here for the back story:
    No matter what "CPS" actually stands for, this much is clear: The model was implemented in the Juvenile Justice System in the state of Maine and the recidivism rate plummeted from 65% to (about) 15%. It works. You just have to be trained in it like any other treatment modality.

  4. Here is the issue with him, and many social scientists - or most scientists.

    He is correct in in a lot of cases. The problem is, is that he feels the need to disqualify all other methods and seeks to extend his method to all children. His method will not work in all cases.

    His method will not, at all, work with a defiant child. With a defiant child, you first have to get to the route of the defiant type behavior, and then lovingly - with consistent firmness - treat it.

    Even in cases that you mention, his method can help somewhat. Meaning, also discover why the child has been turned off or is not interested in learning. Does he perceive learning to be something that he'll never be good at? Does he perceive learning to be meaningless? etc etc Then, if the route of his defiance is treated, he can now possibly be shown success or meaningfulness etc etc , and then embrace it.

  5. He keeps on referring to frustration and lack of flexibility and problem solving skills. The behaviors you're describing don't sound like they can be attributed to those issues.

    Why I was excited by this approach is because his description of the problem fits very well into what I see in some of my own children in my home setting, when they lose their temper, fight, be chutzpedik, etc. I feel that viewing this not as a lack of effort to behave, but rather stemming from the kids not having the skills to deal with difficult situations, has a very promising potential.

    But I've been around long enough to know that not every approach touted as being THE answer will work in every situation for every child.

    Dr. Ablon's site is here . A competing site is here (apparently the two psychologists who developed this method had a parting of ways at some point).

  6. @MD2213 I gather something else is bother you causing your gratuitious criticism. I made no claim as to who was the author of the method.

    Someone who thought highly of the clip sent it to me. After viewing - I though it worthwhile sharing. there was absolutely no need to get into the background of the technique. Sometimes a message is just a message.

  7. I know very, very well the underlying reason some of my students aren't learning from me. I articulate it and they agree with me. I teach, for the most part, Torah observant students who are either in public school, or who are in Jewish schools but who are to a great extent immersed in the popular American culture through videos (and sometimes TV), the Internet, and through their being in schools in which they spend hours a day several days a week taking liberal arts style classes dictated by the state mandated curriculum.

    The students are being ripped to shreds by having to live in two worlds, and to develop two personas. They are aware that every bit of knowledge I teach them will widen the gap between those personas, making their lives even more painful than they already are. That's why no matter no matter how small the pieces I break the knowledge into, they resist. And yet they are overwhelmingly attracted to the Torah I teach -- so I do manage to slip some knowledge in, or to sneak it past their defenses.

    Oh, and then the reaction to this the next time we meet! They've had several days to realize what happened and that they learned something from me. The shock of this realization wakes them up to the "danger" I pose to the comfortable balance they've managed to carve out for themselves between the two sides -- Torah and Tumah, Yaakov and Esau -- battling within them. I've upset the equilibrium and they come back more energized than ever to fight me. Eventually and almost inevitably it gets to the point where they refuse to meet with me, and I sigh in relief as I cry in despair.

  8. Wow. Truly unfortunate, and sad. I guess that's why 52% of these type of high school students drop kashrus and Shabbos within two years of graduation. Truly sad.

  9. ODD - oppositional defiance disorder is treated by the appoach as defiant behavior is seen as a product of lagging skills - the problem situation has demands on him that outstrip his skills. On his site - Dr Greene - he has other approaches that compliment his approach. The approach is being
    used very successfully in schools and with extremely tough and defiant kids in
    the juvenile detention centers in Maine

  10. Its called "constructive" criticism. Im just reminding you that with a few clicks of a button and minimal effort you can gain a broader picture about some of the "innocuous messages" that you post. Thats all. Some of your readers may actually like to learn more about some of the methods that you post from time to time. And sometimes a reply is just a reply.

  11. WOW. Nice to see that you accommodate and facilitate constructive criticism on your blog. Would love to know what happens if someone actually disagrees with you, how you would treat them in real life, when you couldn't just press DELETE. In case you didn't read my post the first time I didn't say YOU were controversial, just the subject matter that you posted was under litigation as to who actually owns the rights.

  12. @mds2213 - please tone down your comments - they are inappropriate to the discussion. Your sarcastic comments are coming across as very argumentative and hostile i.e., a troll.

    If you were simply trying to request more background information to be included in the post or if you felt that the background information was important to the message - you could have simple said that.

    I have no problem with criticism - but I do expect it to be done in a more respectful fashion.

  13. Allan,

    I wonder, if you have a moment, if you could direct me to where on your website you have some real-life examples where you've used CPS, or if you could kindly briefly sketch some real-life examples here in the Comments section. This CPS may be nice in theory, but it seems to fly in the face of my experience. Talking through frustrations with young children seems to me to sometimes lead to older children who expect everything they're asked to do to be accompanied by a session where every last feeling they have about the task at hand must be explored, and even after that their attitude is sometimes "I'll think about it", and so we're back to Square One: they don't do it. I really look forward to learning from your actual successes.


  14. here is a link to Ross Greene's site check esp step 3 step 3 here are several links including to Joe Bower a teacher who uses CPS ,

    you could share a scenario and I could suggest a possible CPS script


  15. I went to the first website you suggested, and it was also mucho theoretical. Even the "Tell Your Story" section there was pretty abstract. Mr. Bower's examples were trivial: a kid who doesn't want to go to school, another who's hungry. Really, how can we be expected to take this stuff seriously when it's presented in a way that appears to be a lot of hooey? I wouldn't carry on like this except you seem to be promoting this CPS a lot through this blog. On reflection, I'm being sort of "Oppositional & Defiant", myself, here. Thanks for your offer to apply your techniques to a scenario I offer up. Why not try turning me around? Good luck with that.

  16. When the CPS process works it seems pretty simple and its simplicity is its brilliance, but it means being true to the process. The challenge is not in the behaviors or problems we are dealing with but getting the kid to open up and trust the process and him acquiring the skills to articulate his concerns and take into account the concerns and perspectives of others when brainstorming a mutually satisfactory solution and following through with it. Detractors of the approach who imho don't understand it , say that kids don't know what their concerns are – just ask them , so they ignore the kids concerns and focus only on their expectations and teaching replacement behaviors. The challenge is to drill down and get their input, because a problem won't be solved in a durable way without taking into account their concerns as well – and this is a basic life skill that all people need. So tough scenarios for me is not the behaviors or even
    problems but the level of skills and the trust between the parties.

    Behaviors whether it is simply complaining or whining, screaming, yelling, swearing , hitting, violence, risky
    behaviors, stealing are just part of the spectrum of a kid looking bad . We are not dealing with the ehaviors but the problems giving rise to these situations. We
    adults have our theories about kids concerns, but we need to extract it from them, it is often very different from what we think. Family situations are harder than school problems and prisons and corrections centers are tough as well despite the 'power ' that the staff have. These centers rely on levels, earning points and privileges and losing them depending on behavior, plenty of restraints, seclusion and confinement. When
    Long Creek correction center for youth adopted CPS, staff were apprehensive
    about using this ' fluffy and hooey
    stuff'. But when recidivism rates, the use of restraints and seclusion began to dramatically fall , CPS was adopted by all the centers in Maine.

    The mistake people make is that they focus on behaviors and not on problems. They present their concerns as the solutions they want , so the discussion revolves around different solutions, - dueling solutions. The focus is on concerns.

    If the Maine juvenile detention centers with their power to control kids can change their paradigm from children do well if they want to , to children do well if
    they can and be more successful , CPS has proved itself

  17. The people claiming victory for CPS in Maine seem to be the same people who advocated for and funded CPS training. Not to get all scientific and nit picky here, but are there any independent studies indicating the effectiveness of CPS? Hmm?

  18. Joe,

    Just check Dr Greene's website
    for the research studies. But I know a better financial incentive to adopt CPS in Maine detention centers than the reason you give – when recidivism rates,
    restraints, seclusions etc fall dramatically it saves the state tons of money , besides impacting so positively
    on kids' lives. These centers have become models for other states showing that things can be done differently

  19. hes saying that All kids do Not have a Yetser Harah!!! - flies in the face of our Torah wisdom.
    of course he does have a point about some kids some of the time.

  20. It all depends on how one understands what the yeitzer ha'ra is.
    According to simple brain science we have 3 brains – reptile responsible for
    fight-flight reaction, the emotional brain and the frontal cortex brain responsible
    for thinking. These kids who are lagging in the various cognitive skills because
    of a neurological developmental
    delay that gets in the way of kids using thinking
    skills to overcome the emotional rush. The Yeitzer ha'tov depends on a certain extent on the kid having
    da'as. Many teachers believe that they need to use extrinsic motivation such as
    rewards, punishments and consequences to help teenagers with their struggle
    with the Yeitzer ha'ra. The mistake they make is kids see these measures as
    controlling and punitive and rebel against them. It is rather different when
    extrinsic motivation is self- determined. There was the famous marsh mellow test
    where kids had to delay gratification in
    order to get another marsh mellow. The researchers found that it was not pure
    will power that helped kids overcome their yetzer ha'ra but their ability to distract themselves and
    wait out the time. One needs ' tachbulot' – thinking skills to overcome the
    yeitzher ha'ra. We can view behavior as a developmental delay contributing to
    lagging skills in skills such as executive functions, language processing
    skills, social skills, emotional regulation skills and cognitive flexibility
    etc or we can simply say the kid is
    making bad choices because it works for him.

  21. Here is what I find interesting, Mr. Katz.

    1) Just above, a poster with the handle MDS2213 claiming to be a clinical psychologist, criticized the blog owner for posting a video of Ablon and not Greene. His comment was written in a disrespectful way. Obviously, he just lacks the proper skills of communication!

    2) There's an excellent book by Dr. Douglas Riley called The Defiant Child. I've read it. It has excellent reviews.
    Curiously, on the Amazon reviews several people with only one review recommend Ross Greene's book instead of Dr. Riley's. The problem: Ross Greene's book only deals with the explosive child, not the defiant child! And while Dr. Riley does have a different book on explosive children, it seems highly suspect and inappropriate for those recommendations to be made on the reviews of Riley's book on defiant! children.

    I think it's worthwhile to call a spade a spade. Greene's method works for some children. It clearly does not work for all children.


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