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Kottler and Kottler (2000) define the child guidance or counseling approach as those skills that teachers need to be able to relate to students in a helpful capacity. The helping process is based on the individual needs of children, allowing teachers to respond skillfully and therapeutically to children’s social, emotional, and interpersonal challenges. Responding skillfully and therapeutically to a student’s social and emotional functioning means that the teacher is able to move the troubled student from a stage of confusion to some sort of problem resolution, or at least some degree of understanding (p. viii). According to the authors, the child guidance approach helps teachers help students gain better clarity of their feelings, better understanding of the motives behind their behavior, and greater resolve in following through on a plan to change their behavior. Teachers that apply child guidance skills can expect an improvement in key socio-emotional areas such as communication skills, relationships with students, and in managing discipline problems that happen frequently.
and eyes to communicate to the child. giving advice. Then the teacher expresses her understanding to the child. expresses himself freely. “Nothing exists right now for me except you. being interested and open enough to find out. and listens to the student in an attempt to build an open. we give our undivided attention and interest to that child. if needed. helps the child develop and follow an action plan. Focusing on the child’s feelings. Nichols (1995) defines sensitivity as being responsive to the feelings of others. Among the interpersonal skills that teachers use to support emotionally and influence positive behavioral change in children are: Interpersonal Sensitivity The teacher suspends her judgment. the teacher shows that she cares by paying attention and listening to the child. pays attention. the teacher listens patiently and empathetically to the child’s concern -briefly paraphrasing and clarifying the concern. For example. face. and. and not judging the child’s feelings or behavior. trusting. for example. Kottler and Kottler explain the interpersonal skill of attending as using our body.” (p. develops his own thinking and problem solving skills. understanding the other person’s perspective. All child guidance skills are interpersonal skills. or solving the problem for the child. This way. 47) . we do not grade papers and deal with the child’s concern simultaneously. The teacher avoids arguing. creates a problem solving alliance and. accepting the child’s feelings.Child Guidance Skills Child guidance is a supportive process where the teacher encourages and challenges the student to solve his own emotional and behavioral issues.pays attention to the student’s verbal messages and body language. 2000). and seeing the troublesome event with the child’s eyes. The teacher tries to understand the student’s words and feelings by putting herself in the child’s shoes. Attending The simple act of paying attention to a child can be healing and therapeutic. and coaches the child in thinking clearly and rationally so that the student makes his own decisions. When we pay attention to a child’s concern. and accepting atmosphere in which the student feels comfortable revealing and exploring feelings (Kottler and Kottler. the student feels respected. and we do not rush through things. knowing that the teacher is not judging him. and respecting the other person’s individuality.
we listen for feelings and try to understand the feelings contained in what the child is experiencing. teachers must resist the impulse to react emotionally to what they hear children saying or see children doing.g. and harder when the verbal and the nonverbal message oppose each other or are in conflict with each other. In addition. touch. we observe. Among the most important nonverbal cues identified by the body language literature are facial expression. For example. A trained listener uses body language to improve understanding of what is happening in the mind (child’s thoughts). When mixed messages happen. Our body language expresses emotions. pitch. As Nichols state. we respect and accept the child’s feelings. blushing). rate. tone. we need to let go what is in our mind to hear what is on the child’s mind. a good listener is a witness. not just facts or observable actions. space and distance between us and the other person or proxemics. eye contact or blinking). and even reveals personality traits. nonverbal communication becomes the primary tool to get additional information to clarify the situation. not a filter of someone else’s experience. 95).g. to listen actively and therapeutically to troubled. eyes expression and behavior (e. and/or acting out students.Therapeutic Listening As Nichols (1995) states. volume. “I feel fine” and frowns at the same time. accurate interpretations of messages are easier when verbal and nonverbal communication complement each other. We listen. and quality of voice). the student says. locomotion (the way we move). Body Language Nonverbal communication or body language is communication without words. anger-prone. To listen therapeutically. and we interpret verbal and nonverbal cues as we are trying to walk in the child’s shoes. In other words. we are trying to understand what the troubled student is thinking and feeling. use of gestures. never on the listener (teacher). When we are listening reflectively and therapeutically. The verbal and the nonverbal dimension of communication interact. The focus in therapeutic listening is always on the speaker (student). conveys attitudes. Even if we disapprove of the child’s behavior. physiologic responses (e. What is important in using body language to listen . posture. speed. we communicate to the student our willingness to explore the problem and the possible behavioral choices available to the child. our ability to listen rests on how successfully we resist the impulse to react emotionally to the position of others (p. breathing. and the way we say words or paralanguage (e.g.
for example. for example. Offering support and a collaborative alliance. what would I probably be thinking and feeling?” From Hardee (2003). “How embarrassing!” is a sympathetic statement. and then conveying our understanding back to the child. Stating our perception of the feeling. we communicate to the student that we understand what he means from his point of view. but “I can see that you were embarrassed because…” is an empathetic expression. saying. we understand and relate to the child’s feelings while remaining detached. Respecting the child’s effort to cope with the event 6. “I can imagine that you must be…” or “You sound upset about…” 4. In empathy. we may adopt the child’s feelings as our own. Pausing to imagine how the child may be feeling 3. “I am willing to work with you to…” or “Let us see what we can do together…” . “I understand…” or “I follow you…” To enter into the perceptual world of the troubled child. “If I were doing _____ and saying _____. anger.g. To be truly empathetic. Legitimizing the child’s feeling 5. For example. recognize the emotional content of the experience. we need to accurately perceive the meaning of the child’s experience. Schaefer (1994) recommends that we ask. Sympathy is a feeling of compassion or concern. teachers can avoid arguments and resolve misunderstandings. Empathy requires listening attentively and reflectively to understand what the student says and does from the child’s own perspective and experience. By making the student’s nonverbal communication clear. sympathy. we adapted for use with children the following elements of empathetic communication: 1. Empathy Empathy is the essence of therapeutic listening. We can express empathy verbally or nonverbally. When we sympathize. and attend to the child’s feelings. for example. Empathy is frequently confused with. Recognizing the presence of a strong feeling (e.therapeutically and to clarify meaning is that the way the child is expressing something may carry more significance and weight than the words she is saying. but is not the same as. fear. Simply put. we want to see the child feeling better or happier. or shame) 2.
(Information giving) (p. in other words. we can easily establish rapport. crossing the arms. 21) Kottler and Kottler (2000) divide child guidance into exploration and action. Meier and Davis (1997) define self-exploration as the elaboration and deepening of self-awareness (identifying and recognizing emotions) and self-concept (perception of self) that happen when the child speaks about him or her. knowledge. Meier and Davis present the following example: Student: I am having trouble with my boyfriend. The greater the rapport we establish with the child. 1997). and it can be therapeutic by itself.Rapport The key to communicate effectively and therapeutically with a troubled child is to move closer to the child both in physical space as well as in emotion. Self-exploration enhances children’s knowledge of themselves (self-knowledge). matched breathing. Teacher: Have you tried talking with him? (Advice giving) Teacher: Tell me about the trouble you are having. 2002). we establish rapport with the child. In the exploration phase. Like dance partners. By matching the child’s body language and gently imitating key gestures and behaviors. or hand movements. Advice giving tells children which specific actions to perform and provides the solution. People in rapport tend to mirror each other in posture and gesture. We can accomplish this by adopting an overall physical and mental state that is similar to the child’s physical and mental state. The authors warn that we should not confuse advising children with giving information. providing the information about what the child must do for behavioral change to take place. the general style of movement. the greater our ability to elicit behavioral change from the child. Child Guidance Techniques The child guidance techniques and procedures that follow aim at assisting children in selfexploration. we use techniques such as: . and alternatives that students may find useful in their decision-making (Cormier and Cormier in Meier and Davis. a leaning forward or leaning back posture. for example. two individuals in rapport respond and mirror each other’s movements and their body language is complementary (O’Connor and Seymour. Information giving consists of facts. voice matching.
we repeat key ideas. Is that because _____?” When we paraphrase the student’s words. we give the child the chance to clarify. “How did you feel when that happened?” (Open) invites the child to investigate her feelings. If we are accurate. “What is it that you really miss about _____?” and “What do you mean by _____?” Questions are useful in establishing the facts. for example. “You appear to be feeling disappointed. What happened? How did it happen? What further information we need to clarify the event? What feelings are associated with the event? Questions should help the child develop alternative thinking (e.g. . we verify the information to make sure that we understood what the student intended to communicate (e. In a few words and tentatively. and help the child initiate constructive behavior. Paraphrasing is much more than simply repeating what the student said. and the more general the questions the better. key thoughts.g. “How else could you look at this or think about this?” and “What options do you think do you have in this situation”?). for example. Questions should also help the student clarify her thinking. “What are you feeling at this moment?” Open questions are more effective than closed questions. we restate the child’s words using vocabulary and phrases that the child has used. “What do you plan on doing?” Paraphrasing When we paraphrase.g. repeated themes.. and strong feelings of the child. Our questions should invite the child to tell us more and should promote talking about feelings and examine feelings. we are trying to capture the essence of the message by describing the feeling. For example. e. the student confirms our interpretation.g. “How has all this made you feel?” and “How did you feel when that happened?” Emphatic questioning goes to the source of what the student is feeling.Questioning Questions are the best way of getting information. “It sounds like you are saying _____” or “As I understand it. for example. you plan to…”). if we are inaccurate. but “Were you angry when she cursed?” (Closed) labels the feeling for the child and the student can answer this last question with a simple yes or no. e. for example.
” (Teacher) “Mickey won’t get off your back no matter what you do. When we decode. “You are not challenged by repetitive classroom activities with little room for you to express your creativity. the teacher brings the focus back to the child’s own behavior.” (p. giving the student a “new understanding” and increasing the probability of positive behavioral change. and when they do not do the same for you. Putting the responsibility for his . He won’t leave me alone and teases me all the time. you feel hurt and disappointed. in the example that Kottler and Kottler provide. the teacher decoded the behavior. for example. we can reframe acting-out behaviors as “intense and energetic” or a student that does not complete math tasks as. we make no judgments. and Fecser (2001) define decoding as helping the child translate her behavior into a statement about specific feelings. 51) Notice that. “What went through your mind when Theresa refused to share her markers?” Reframing Reframing is simply placing a positive spin on the problem. “It did not sound fair to you. we are reflecting (Long. This helps the teacher show the student how feelings may cause unwanted behavior. Reflecting When we turn an observation or remark back to the student without adding our own ideas. pass along no opinions.” In reflective listening. when Yolanda ripped her drawing after her best friend refused to share her crayons. We simply acknowledge the emotional content of the child’s message. For example. the teacher makes the connection for the student between the specific behavior and the associated feeling.” With decoding. Kottler and Kottler (2000) divide reflections into Reflecting Content or rewording the child’s message to make sure that we heard accurately. for example. 2001). Gradually. we connect what the student is doing and saying to what she is feeling. Some examples are.” and “You feel I singled you out when the class was throwing spitballs. and we give no solutions to the student. Wood.Decoding Long. and Fecser. For example. we reframe the child’s current perception of the event or behavior.” “You did not mean to hurt Randy’s feelings.” Good reframing presents the problem to the child in a way that seems more easily resolvable. (Student) “Mickey keeps hitting me. the responsibility for decoding and interpreting the child’s behavior shifts from the teacher to the student (self-decoding). Wood. “You share your things with your friends.
feelings and behavior on the student opens a whole range of emotional and behavioral possibilities. Identify accurate feelings 4. “So. the authors recommend that we: 1. and connect related issues as well as key thoughts and ideas. 52) To reflect the student’s feelings. overall. “Doing your best” and “trying hard” have no external referent and. Child Guidance Procedures The second part in child guidance. describe important themes. facilitating the transition from exploration to action. it is important that we give the child a . To elicit a specific behavior from the child. As Kottler and Kottler (2000) state. To reflect feelings. we reflect back the big picture. Listen carefully to subtle nuances 2. A goal helps the student in focusing his effort in a specified direction. We should always summarize at the end of mini-sections and at the end of our conversation with the child. what you are saying is _____. Simply telling a child. Is that right?” Alternatively. “You feel _____ because _____. unambiguous issue or concern into concrete results. is the action phase. we make sure that we tie together the main points. that is. Communicate this understanding in a way that the child can accept (p. an effective behavioral goal guides the student in which path to follow (a road map). are useless in eliciting a specific behavior.” Summarizing In summarizing. as described by Kottler and Kottler (2000). we use procedures such as: Goal Setting Goal setting is a major procedure in child guidance. identify feelings. To help children in the process of behavioral change. Decode deeper meanings 3. we can use a sentence stem such as. Reflecting Feelings or identifying and reflecting the underlying feelings that we hear expressed. goal setting helps translate an elusive. “This is what I have understood so far…” Summarizing is a variation of paraphrasing. because of lack of external reference. but in summarizing. for example. “do your best” or “try hard” is not going to do the trick.
What is the best plan? (Decision-Making) 6. From Bloomquist (1996). to teach children how to solve social problems.e. Goals should be specific. What are some plans? (Brainstorming and Planning) 5. problem solving is an excellent child guidance tool to help children organize and guide their performance or behavior. the goal represents the objective towards which the student is both able and willing to work. Problem Solving To teach children to recognize problems and articulate concerns. anticipate obstacles. achievable. and challenging. and implement effective coping strategies. so that the student knows what to do and what not to do (i. how often. Who or what caused the problem (Description) 3. we adapted the following social problem solving steps: 1. the teacher presents the problem or concern to the student in a goal-directed manner and in a solvable form. and for how long). what. Simply put. Did the plan work? (Evaluation) Combined with goal setting. and measurable. develop strategies. Stop! What is the problem? (Recognition and Definition) 2. What does each person thinks and feels? (Clarification) 4. so that the child feels stimulated and motivated. where. evaluate consequences.” The language in these two goals is unambiguous. we can use the following outline: 1. A more effective behavioral goal would be. What steps do I need to reach my goal? Step One Step Two Step Three . “Try to get more than 80% correct” or “Concentrate in beating your last time. when. so that the child has the skills to reach the goal. Using social problem solving. Do the plan (Implementation) 7. in other words. problem solving is a key child guidance procedure. To clearly link goal setting with problem solving. What is my goal? 2. behavioral.clear view of what we expect from him.
and how we feel influence how we behave. our emotions and behavior are not merely a reaction to the environmental forces around us. Irrational thinking is a consequence of irrational or illogical conclusions based on limited and/or distorted evidence. Ellis (1977) defines irrational thinking as any thought. but our view or interpretation of what happened is what upset us. “Mr. and we challenge the child’s irrational thinking by asking. “Everyone hates me!”). the child has developed a new. overgeneralizations (e. and redefine those illogical and self-defeating conclusions that they base on limited evidence and/or distorted information. challenge. This is the worst day of my life!”). learning to differentiate between the good and the bad points in his behavior. and children change their feelings when they modify their thinking.g. debate. we get the cognitive restructuring procedure or confronting irrational thinking. “What evidence supports your belief?” In answering this question. and catastrophic thinking (e. “I will never learn long division”). emotion. not facts. rational definition of the problem that helps stop self-defeating generalizations and stick closer to reality . thinking creates emotion. discriminate. and attitudes about our environment. absolutistic thinking (e. Did I reach my goal? (Bloomquist. but respond mainly to our thoughts. beliefs. Step Four 3. When the procedure of cognitive restructuring is complete. In simpler terms. The basic premise in the rational emotive view is that the things that happen to us do not upset us. or behavior that leads to selfdefeating or self-destructive consequences (self-destructive feelings and/or behavior). emotion. 1996) Cognitive Restructuring From the rational-emotive literature. and behavior are interrelated. We are able to influence behavioral change when we help children change their feelings. The procedure of cognitive restructuring consists in helping students understand that their troubled thoughts are hypotheses. the student debates and discriminates between his rational and irrational (logical and illogical) thinking. and in helping children detect.g. Anderson totally humiliated me when he did not select me for the basketball team. what we think and believe influence how we feel. According to the rational-emotive school of thought.g. Another main premise is that thinking. We help the troubled student recognize the inconsistencies and contradictions in his thinking and behavior.
& Davis. Life space crisis intervention: Talking with students in conflict. F. Schaefer. Introducing NLP: Psychological skills for understanding and influencing people. (1996). 1977). (1997). T. Accept responsibility for their feelings and behavior 3. Hammersmith. A. Become more analytical and logical in the way they reason using cause and effect relationships 4. S. Pacific Grove. CA: Brooks Cole. Nichols. New York: Guilford Press. A. T. M. M. M. Ellis. Third Edition. J. (1977). The lost art of listening: How learning to listen can improve relationships. P. The Permanente Journal. New York: Guilford. (2003). Counseling skills for teachers. How to influence children: A handbook of practical child guidance skills (Second Edition). 3-34). we help students: 1. Vol 7(4). J. Meier. 2000) References: Bloomquist. M. Elements of counseling. Skills training for children with behavior disorders: A parent and therapist guidebook. R. E.). Austin.. rational definition of the problem comes more efficient coping skills and better-adjusted behavior. & Fecser. pp. O’Connor. Texas: Pro-Ed. Feel more in control over their cognitive (mental) and emotional states 2.(Ellis. N. Thousand Oaks. The basic clinical theory of rational-emotive therapy. (2000). & Kottler. . NJ: Jason Aronson. Ellis & R. Hardee. E. Change how they feel and act by changing how they think (Kottler and Kottler.. (2002). With a new. (1994). (2001). J. CA: Corwin Press. S. Handbook of rational-emotive therapy (pp. In A. An overview of empathy. London: Harper Element. C. Grieger (Eds.. New York: Springer Publishing. Make choices about how they want to react to the things and people around them 5. Using cognitive restructuring. Wood. Northvale. Kottler. & Seymour. L. 1-9. A. J. (1995). Long.. J..
You can read the complete collection of articles on Scribd. To download free the eGuide. in New York City and her native Puerto Rico. or her blog. Reyes.About the Author Carmen Y. visit Carmen’s blog. includes ten years teaching emotionally disturbed/behaviorally disordered children and four years teaching students with a learning disability or mental retardation. The Psycho-Educational Teacher. has more than twenty years of experience as a self-contained special education teacher. . Carmen has a bachelor’s degree in psychology (University of Puerto Rico) and a master’s degree in special education with a specialization in emotional disorders (Long Island University. Carmen has taught at all grade levels. Persuasive Discipline: Using Power Messages and Suggestions to Influence Children Toward Positive Behavior. She also has extensive graduate training in psychology (30+ credits). Brooklyn: NY). Carmen is an expert in the application of behavior management strategies. The Psycho-Educational Teacher. resource room teacher. and educational diagnostician. from kindergarten to post secondary. and in teaching students with learning or behavior problems. Her classroom background. Carmen is the author of 60+ books and articles in psycho-education and in alternative teaching techniques for low-achieving students.
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