Work with complex children teaches us that merely "correcting behaviour" is an endless chase, like going down Alice's rabbit hole. We may never get back to a reality that we can actually work with!
In our adult lives, most of us prefer to work in areas of our own strengths. Think for a moment:
- Have you ever had a supervisor that pointed out your weaknesses (and ignored what you were doing well?)
- Did that help?
- Would it have helped if every error, glitch, oversight, every "TPS Report" (thank you Office Space!) was highlighted?
Most of us learn when we are not on "alert", scanning for the next attack. We can get better at our "weaknesses" when we are appreciated for our capabilities.
How does wnat we know apply to working with complex children and youth?
When looking for a place to start with children who are "hard to reach", "resistant", "defiant", "oppositional", "anxious", "withdrawn", etc. consider the following:
Strengths are the connection to a successful future for these children.
Find strengths. Dig for them if need be. Create the opportunity for children to explore what might be an interest. Strengths are like little seeds in the ground.
- Strengths need room to grow - opportunities, different places to try them out, opportunities to fail and try again
- Strengths need nourishment - warmth, encouragement, support and coaching
- Strengths need time - patience, celebrating the small steps, standing back and being witness to growth at its own time.
As you find strengths, notice how things begin to get better. Just like our own "bosses" who benefit from strength-based glasses!
(re-posted from 2016)