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Collaborative and Proactive Solutions

Techniques to meet the unmet needs your child has that is causing challenging behavior

Expert: Dr Ross Greene

Positive Parenting Conference by: A Fine Parent



Belief: Kids will do well if they can. Research shows that what is getting in their way are skills.


There are many kids who do not benefit from motivation, those that do not benefit from the reward and punishment approach as this is only a short term solution. 


As parents, we become “obsessed” with something else. We should be focusing on what is causing the behaviour, yet we become obsessed with trying to fix the behaviour.


The biggest shift is focusing on behaviour and trying to modify it to finding the cause, and then to focus on that.



An unsolved problem = a Childs unmet need.

When we have an unsolved problem we are not meeting an expectation of the child.


IF you are solving the problems collaboratively and proactively with reward systems, then behaviours will subside and problems will be solved.


The following are all Lagging skills that children need to acquire:

- handling transitions, emotions, responses, putting feelings in words, moving off ideas, how behaviour is effecting other people.

See the Free Assessment on Dr Ross Greene's site.


Unsolved problems may include the following where a parent has specific expectations: brushing teeth at night, getting dressed in the morning, homework (specifically math), difficulty getting up in the morning, eating what is made for supper, doing specific chores.


STEPS to overcome unsolved problems:

  1. Do not respond reactively, wait for the meltdown to blow over / heat of the moment to blow over.

  2. If the previous interventions haven’t worked, you need to find new ones.

  3. Complete the assessment of lagging skills.

  4. Prioritize the problems

  5. Solve one problem at a time, not more than 2-3 at a time.

  6. Don’t let the pile of unsolved problems be overwhelming. It’s more overwhelming not knowing the problems in the first place

  7. Involve your child in the prioritizing, and communicate with them about what you're doing


The 3 Plans of Problem Solving

Plan A) Solve problems unilaterally (Rewards)

Parent: “Ive decided that..”

With this Plan you may still be setting your child up for failure because the problem isn’t being addressed, if they are not rewarded (which is punishment in itself), then it is demotivating for the child.


Plan B) Put 2/3 problems here (high priorities), working together with your child collaboratively


Plan c) Set aside a problem for now, because you’re prioritizing (this stabilizes and calms things down)


If a child is having difficulty telling you what their concerns are, here’s what to do:

Hold out The 5 fingers. Ask your child which one is applicable when asking them a question:

Really True, Pretty true, Sort of true, Not really true or Not true at all.

What's making it hard for the child to talk? Have you been permissive in the past? Do they feel heard? If a child does not want to talk, whether you talk today or tomorrow won’t really make a difference. History is the reason for the child not wanting to talk, not the problem today. Be mindful of these things and realize that because of the way you have handled situations in the past, your child won't be an open book off the bat once approaching them in this new way. Take it day by day.


If a child says “You’re not the boss of me", when you are trying to get them to open up, you can respond with: “Yes, I'm not the boss of you. You can’t make me walk, and I can’t make you talk.”


Ask your child whether this is a hard problem to talk about. Our assumptions are usually part of the problem.


There are two things to consider:

  • How are the unsolved problems affecting the child?

  • How are the unsolved problems affecting other people?


“I wonder if there is something we can do about…”

This gives them the first opportunity to address the problem. The solution needs to work for both of you. If the child addresses the concern in a way that does not work for you, then mention: “I imagine that would work for you, however it would not work for me because….”


Remember: Behaviors are only signals. What your child needs is someone who recognizes that they have a problem behind the behavior they are expressing and who will assist them in solving the problem so that they are able to do so on their own in future.


Kids want to meet your expectations, but because we are under the assumption that they don’t due to their behaviour, we deal with them in a unilateral way by means of Plan A. We need to try to solve problems more by means of Plan B and C.

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Ross Greene's


WALKNG TOUR FOR PARENTS: Collaborative and Proactive Model

Dr. Greene's Collaborative & Proactive Solutions model consists of three basic ingredients. First, we need to make sure you have the right lenses on. Next, we need to help you identify all the expectations your child is having difficulty meeting (we call those "unsolved probems") and decide which ones you want to tackle first. Then, you'll want to start solving those problems collaboratively and proactively. (Solved problems don't cause challenging episodes...only unsolved problems do.) In each step, there's either streaming video or audio programming to help you understand and implement various facets of the model.

Q & A's


Answers to questions that most commonly arise about the CPS model among caregivers.


WALKNG TOUR FOR EDUCATORS: Collaborative and Proactive Model

Using Dr. Greene's Collaborative & Proactive Solutions model to help behaviorally challenging students consists of three basic steps.  And -- you'll have to take our word for this -- you really do want to progress through the steps in order. In each Step, there's streaming video and audio programming to help you understand and implement various facets of the model.


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