Friday, November 18, 2005

Sir, I see that you're waving a gun. Are you angry?

Ahhhhh ... foster care training. Another class last night. This was actually the Part 1 of last month's class (see the whole "Do you like it on top or on bottom" post). We missed it last month because we were running our son to the ER with what the dr. said would turn out to be either a serious medical condition .... or constipation. I'll give you three guesses what it was.

So, we're at the verbal portion of the training. This is when they teach you how to verbally "join and follow to lead" a person who is expressing anger and may become a danger to themselves or others (ooooo, I sound like I know what I'm talking about). I'm going to give you a little crash course. Funny - it sounds so cheesy, but it really does work. It can also be used to annoy your spouse! (I LOVE that kind of stuff)

Here's how it plays out. Let's say you see someone fuming and pacing. First, you use your words to "join" them and acknowledge their action.

"Frank, I see that you are pacing back and forth and your face looks red" (state what you see, then ask) "Are you angry?" Stop rolling your eyes. Just go with me, okay?

Of course, they'll reply that they ARE angry, and hopefully in a really colorful way.

"I can see that you're angry. What are you angry about?"

BIG IMPORTANT PART HERE: you never, ever ask "why?" .... ever ... never! Same reason it's a bad question to ask your kids. Stick with the Who, What, Where, When and How types of interrogation.

They then tell you why they're angry. You can continue to break down their anger to find the specific trigger. For instance, if they say, "I hate traffic!" You would follow with things like, "What is it that you hate about traffic?" Before you ask another question, it's always good (albeit CHEEESY!) to restate the answer they just gave you. "So, you hate rush hour traffic. What, specifically, bothers you during rush hour?"

Told you it would sound cheesy ... trust me ... it's gold!

Once you have narrowed it down, you go to the magic question:

"What do you want?" They give you some idea of change they'd like to take place.
"What have you done in the past to get what you want?"
"How has that worked for you?" (Smells like Dr. Phil, I know!)
"What are some other things you might try?"
"Which of those things are you willing to do?"

BOOM! You've joined them in their anger, you've followed their concerns through the conversation and you are leading them to a resolution. Join and follow to lead. Ba-bing-bang-boom!

Now, try it. It works GREAT on your kids when they're freaking out over something. They'll look at you strange, but as long as you ask those open ended questions (NEVER yes/no questions) and you don't ask "Why?" ... I'm telling you, it really is pretty cool. I tried it on my son one day, and when we were done he actually thanked me!

Okay class - report back in one week.

10 comments:

Running2Ks said...

It does work. It is empathy, reframing, and breaking it down. Sometimes I find that (for my kids) hugging them can get them to a point where they can talk again.

Becky said...

This is really interesting! Coming from someone who ALWAYS asks why and always asks yes or no questions...me. Oh dear. Now, how do I remember to try this when a good opportunity arises. Hmm.

halloweenlover said...

I like it! Do you think I can try it on the husband?

Christine said...

You have the advantage of trying it on a husband that is clueless to the process! If I were to start in, my dearest would glare at me ...

Closet Owner said...

Great advice, I have to write this down, my little one manipulates me everytime with the anger trip.


Now I got her!

Kris said...

I just finished a book titled, "How to Behave So Your Kids Will.".. Or something close to it...

Anyway, it teaches a very similar approach, plus a whole lot more...

It's almost miraculous how well this approach works! I didn't really believe it until I tried it. It just seemed too simple...

Kris

Gem said...

Wow, I never thought of asking what instead of why. I bet it would work in de-escalating sisters-very-close-in-age fights as well! I'm going to have to print that out and practice, then try it!

WILLIAM said...

I am going to have to remember this for the future.

wendy said...

These are great tips and I'm going to try them with my kiddos when they are angry! Thanks!

Girl in Progress said...

What do you do with kids that just want to fight? That get that sick and disgusted look when you react calm and caring and speak softly..

Two of my kids hate that.. could it be the ADHD and their need to get their adrenaline going? hmm I'm gonna try this though.. just cause I know you wouldn't suggest anything that is doo doo.. :o)