Ross Greene: Kids Do Well If They Can

Grab a coffee and sit down to read about Ross Greene, and the opportunity to receive a $10 discount on his upcoming conferences across Canada.  In this blog post we talk about Ross Greene – an American clinical child psychologist – and his approach to working with children.  Ross Greene is an advocate for building relationships with children and seeking out understanding behaviour over punishment.  Ross Greene will be speaking at the upcoming November conference in Richmond.

Click here to learn more about this conference click below:

The British Columbia School-Based Mental Health Conference

Presented by Ross Greene, Ph.D. and Lynne Kenney, Psy.D. and Lynn Lyons, MSW and Gordon Neufeld, Ph.D., author of Hold On To Your Kids and Donald Meichenbaum, Ph.D. and Lynn Miller, Ph. D., R.Psych andLisa Ferentz, LCSW, DAPA


Ross Greene and Reflection on One of His Books

Adam Knowlson, a Resource teacher in the Langley School District, sat down to share a little bit about a recent book he read from Ross Greene.

This book is called:

Lost at School: Why Our Kids with Behavioral Challenges are Falling Through the Cracks and How We Can Help Them!

  • Tell us a little bit about the book.

This book presents a change in worldview, paradigm, and attitude towards kids with behavioural challenges.  It reminds educators that kids really will do well if they can.  The key is, that kids needs to be offered the chance to do well.  This book offers the powerful shift in mindset towards these students that they are not trying to make your life difficult for “kicks and giggles,” but really there are lagging skills that are preventing them from meeting the expectations of appropriate behaviour.

  • Why did you read it?

I read this book as I was working with a number of students who were identified in my school district with severe behavioural challenges.  As I began to implement both philosophical changes, while also using some of the practical approaches from this book (e.g., Plan B discussions), I found that these students were, for perhaps one of the first times, validated in their frustration and were offered empathy.

  • How has this book changed the way you work with children?

As already mentioned, Ross Greene makes it clear that kids do well if they can.  Perhaps, the greatest and most fundamental change for me is that I believe truly, that these students have great desire to be successful.  They are just lacking the problem solving skills and, at times, the support from adults, to attain these skills.  I am trying to be more proactive, empathetic, and caring towards these students.

  • What would be the most important parts of the book?

The key is first of all to do a “heart and mind check.”  If you don’t believe that these students are trying to do well, or would do well if they could, then you need to re-evaluate why.  The first section of the book explains this.  Next, the ALSUP (Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems) is a great tool to identify the greatest areas/skills that the student does not have.  Finally, the proactive, plan B conversations is one of the greatest practical steps that can be implemented.  The student and teacher collaboratively solve problems, as a team in effort to ensure that the student has been empathized with and validated, while also having an opportunity to provide feedback and ideas for working to solve the problem.screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-12-58-09-am

  • How can educators use this information for their classroom practically?

All educators can benefit first from identifying what it is preventing the child from meeting the expectations of appropriate behaviour.  Upon doing so, the key is collaboration.  Not in the more traditional sense where it is with other educators specifically, but rather with the child and the educator as a team working to wlve the problem together.  The more educators that are on board with becoming a collaborative problem solving school, the more that students and parents will identify it as a part of the school ethos, thus changing how they perceive themselves and teachers.

Read More about Ross Greene and his Philosophy in Action

Chris Wejr, a principal at James Hill Elementary School, went to Ross Greene’s conference last year, and he has a view insights from his blog.

 “Kids do well if they CAN… if they could do well, the would do well. Something must be getting in the way” (Dr. Ross Greene)

Greene shares with us a few keys to working with kids with behaviour challenges:

  1. Kids do well if they can

    Focus on determining the lagging skills and unsolved problems that are causing the behaviour.  Challenging kids are challenging when the demands of a task outstrip their skill level. We need to stop obsessing on behaviour.  Instead, we should be emphasising problems (and solving them) rather than on behaviours (and modifying them – when we solve the problems the behaviours are modified).  Expectations are important so we need to reflect on what our expectations so we can determine what our student may be having problem meeting. We also need to ensure that the bar for these expectations are close to the skill level of our students… much like we do with other aspects of teaching.

  2. Solutions must be collaborative and proactive.

    Too often, solutions we (as adults) come up with are done TO the child and what we need to be doing screen-shot-2016-10-23-at-12-58-22-amis coming up with solutions to unsolved problems (and lagging skills) WITH the child. This does not mean collaborating on consequences… this means collaborating on solutions to problems. (Note: I am not opposed to consequences that are logical and restorative but I think we too often believe that this will solve the problem when, if it is due to a lagging skills or unsolved problem, it rarely solves it and actually exacerbates the problem). Nobody likes a plan done to them yet we do this to kids with behaviour challenges all the time… and it often makes it worse.

  3. Model empathy and care.

    When determined the lagging skills and unsolved problems and we work collaboratively as a team with the child, we show we care and can empathize with his/her struggles in certain skill areas

To learn more in detail about Ross Greene go to Chris Wejr’s blog:

Working with Children with Challenging Behaviours?  This Changes Everything

Those that are interested in a promo code – $10 discount – please use promo code KIDSLOCKER


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Why Blog?

Hi! My name is Victoria Woelders from Vancouver, Canada. I blog about technology, teaching and life as a Mom. This blog is a journey of my passions, inspirations and moonshot thinking.


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