Monthly Archives: February 2016

Behavioral Challenges Causing Conflict and Frustration at Home?

Think:Kids, says Dr. Elizabeth Pierce, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Elizabeth Pierce by John Kramer

ILD’s status in the Learning Differences community means many opportunities for partnership and collaboration. Connecting with other passionate practitioners and educators who are trying unique, innovative approaches to help students who are struggling to find success makes us better at what we do. While the kids we usually work with have difficulty succeeding in school because of executive function, attention and learning difficulties, many kids struggle because of emotional or behavioral challenges. In collaborating with practitioners who specialize in these arenas we are often heartened and humbled by the overlap in approach. Unsurprisingly, the most successful approaches put the child at the center, a notion which has been our goal for over 30 years.

One such practitioner is Elizabeth Pierce, Ph.D.  Dr. Pierce has had over 25 years of experience practicing the Collaborative Problem Solving approach, and is certified as a practitioner and trainer in CPS by the Think:Kids program at Massachusetts General Hospital. According to the MGH website, Think:Kids “ teaches a revolutionary, evidence-based approach called Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) for helping children with behavioral challenges. Through training, support and clinical services, [it] promote[s] the understanding that challenging kids lack the skill, not the will, to behave well …Unlike traditional models of discipline, the CPS approach avoids the use of power, control and motivational procedures and instead focuses on building helping relationships and teaching at-risk kids the skills they need to succeed.”

Since becoming a Certified Trainer, Dr. Pierce has organized groups for parents hoping to learn this method. She utilizes the Think:Kids 8-session curriculum. This curriculum is unique in helping parents to understand the lagging cognitive skills behind their children’s challenging behavior, and in giving parents a practical, structured, 3-step approach to solve very specific problems in the home.  It is also distinctive in its respect for both child and parent concerns, allowing parents to effectively communicate their values and point of view to their children.  It avoids the pitfalls and negative side effects that can sometimes occur with standard behavior modification approaches (behavior charts, time out etc.) The group is rich with information, including a slide presentation each week, videos demonstrating the approach, and handouts.   There are opportunities for role-plays, review of homework assignments to facilitate learning, and discussion amongst group members.

According to Dr. Pierce, parents who have gone through the group report that they felt accepted and comfortable, free to raise their struggles with parenting without feeling judged.  They also expressed that their learning of CPS challenged, in a positive way, their usual ways of thinking about discipline and about how to help their kids.  They experienced improved interactions with their kids, and saw positive changes in their children over time.  They unanimously appreciated the exchange with other parents, including hearing the ups and downs of trying the steps of CPS.

Dr. Pierce will be running a CPS/Think:Kids Parent Group at our ILD offices for 8 Thursdays in a row starting April 28th, 2016 at 7 pm. If your family is struggling because of your child’s behavioral challenges and you are looking for a child-centered solution, we believe you really cannot do better than this. For more information or to register, click here.