It’s long been established that poor behavior in children and adolescents can be an issue of poor or missing skills. No argument there. The premise is that, if a youngster lacking in certain skills (like social skills) could do better, they would.
But there are also those youngsters that have the skills in place but, for whatever reason, choose not to use them. Oppositional and defiant behavior fueled by anger, resentment or power issues would be an example. These children and teens often act out because it serves their immediate or short-term needs to do so. When added up, however, these behaviors can create serious trouble, like failure at school and retention in grade. In instances like these, difficult behavior could could be more an issue of how youngsters think than of their skills. (Obviously, in these instances, we are ruling out thought disorder, a different concern entirely.)
In this audio discussion, psychologist and author Dr. James Sutton shares his work and the work of psychologists Dr. Doug Riley and Dr. Greg Lester in suggesting ways a youngster’s thought can be challenged using five simple questions.
These five questions and their use are intended to be challenging, but not inflammatory. The approach is noncoercive; an attempt to encourage the youngster to reflect on aspects of their behavior they might not have considered before. These questions are also excellent to use with groups.
Dr. Sutton is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, and he’s the moderator for the Network’s Support Forum. He’s also the author of What Parents Need to Know About ODD, revised. (For more information about the book, click on the title. (17:09)
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