The third step to helping upset children and adults: Invitation to find a solution

When dealing with problem behaviours you first want to listen empathetically to the other person then you want to share with them how this affects you.
Thirdly you want to find a solution to these two competing examples.

You have already taken the first two steps for helping an upset person manage their inappropriate behaviour. At a time when they were calm and more relaxed you:

  1. listened with empathy
  2. defined the problem

The third step is not the time for you to say how you think things should be, rather you want to invite the other person to come up with their possible solutions.

In the book The Explosive Child by Ross Greene the author offers a third magic formula.

“I wonder if there’s a way we can…” + (address kid’s concern) + “but that still makes sure to” + (address your concern) +“Do you have any ideas?”

This steps helps them to take other people’s feeling into consideration when problem-solving. When you let them have first go at coming up with a solution you signal that you are interested in their solution to the problem and that you are not just going to impose your will on them.

When you use these skills with children you will help them grow into successful adults. Using it with adult will do the same.

The two conditions for a good solution to work:
• It has to realistic – the other person can actually follow through with their idea
• It has to be mutually satisfactory – it must solve the concerns of both parties.

This may take time and need to be repeated several times. Not everyone can come up with the right solution first time.

As my favourite blogger Eric Barker says there are no bad solutions only those that aren’t realistic or mutually satisfactory.