working with children and youth identifying and building on strengths
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Working with Children and Youth: Identifying and Building on Strengths. Talon Greeff, LPC Director of Residential Care Utah Youth Village. This training and additional resources can be found at www.utahparenting.org. Overview. Introduction

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working with children and youth identifying and building on strengths

Working with Children and Youth: Identifying and Building on Strengths

Talon Greeff, LPC

Director of Residential Care

Utah Youth Village

This training and additional resources can be found at www.utahparenting.org

overview
Overview
  • Introduction
  • Why Strength-based rather than problem-based approach to care?
  • Assessment
    • Starts with First Meeting
    • Child’s First Week in the Home
  • Developing Strengths into Skills
  • Troubleshooting
  • Conclusion
introduction
Introduction
  • Statement of Purpose: It is my job to make you better foster parents.
  • What are some of the difficulties and challenges you have had in doing foster care?
  • What is it about the way you provide foster care that is so stressful?
  • What is the worst mistake you have made so far as a foster parent?
  • Please describe the most embarrassing experience you or your family have had, professionally or personally.
why strength based rather than problem based approach to care
Why Strength-based rather than problem-based approach to care?
  • Helps your home be more pleasant, relaxed and fun
  • Much more fun to praise behavior than address negative behavior
  • Skills help address negative or problematic behavior
  • Seems like more work with the youth but saves time in the long run
  • Produces better results for the children and youth in our care
identifying strengths
Identifying Strengths
  • Every child or youth has strengths
  • Survival skills are often strengths
  • Strengths may be hidden in negative behaviors
  • What is the youth doing that would be positive if viewed by another person or in another environment?
    • Negative behavior – “telling you no”
    • Positive use of this behavior - resisting peer pressure
  • What are they doing now? How could it be worse?
    • Example - Youth late home from school
    • Could be worse if youth did not come home at all
starts with your first meeting
Starts with your First Meeting
  • Starts with intake
    • Avoid arguing, demanding – “What is your problem?”
    • Avoiding power struggles
  • Discussion of strengths
    • Ask parents, previous foster parents, case worker
      • Be careful about what they report
      • Use this information to help you find out strengths
    • Ask about strengths in different environments: home, school, church, social groups, with peers, with family and with friends
    • Ask youth
      • What do you like?
      • We usually like what we do well
child s first week in the home
Child’s First Week in the Home
  • Have special meal and family activity
    • Ask youth what they would like to eat or what they would like to do
    • You can guide the choice to make it reasonable
  • Talk with the youth and get to know them
    • What kind of music do like?
    • What activities, hobbies do you like?
    • When you have free time what do you like to do?
    • Do activities with your youth
  • Talk with the youth about your home and expectations
  • Observe the youth with others, school and home
  • Each of these things helps with an assessment of youth strengths
building on strengths
Building on Strengths
  • Work with child to find “niche” for youth in home
    • A niche is the thing that the youth is better at than anyone else living there
  • Reinforce what they do well with specific descriptions “What can we reinforce?”
    • Data shows that typical parents reinforce behavior 1:17
    • Youth behavior improves with 4:1 ratios
    • Set timer for 15 minute intervals and find something to praise
  • Sandwich positive interactions between negative interactions
    • Avoid negative spiral
    • Forces you to find and reward strength or positive behavior
building on strengths9
Building on Strengths
  • You can address problem behavior with strengths
    • Praise and reward the strengths or positive behavior that is opposite of the behavior you are concerned about
    • Develop strengths to address problem behavior
  • “Map” over success and strengths onto problem behavior
    • Example: If your youth has grades that are an A and a D ask “What works for you in the class with the A you can use in the class with a D to improve the grade?
    • “You get along great with Billy. What do you do with him that can help you get along with Sally?”
  • Help youth figure this out and help them develop it
strength based exercise
Strength-based Exercise
  • Name behaviors that foster children may exhibit when placed:
    • Skipping school
    • Disruptive in school
    • Yelling
    • Hitting
    • Refusing to do chores
    • Refusing to follow laws
skills to teach and reinforce
Problem behaviors

Skipping school

Disruptive in school

Yelling

Hitting

Refusing to do chores

Refusing to follow rules

Skills to teach or reinforce

Social interactions with peers

Able to be on task with reading or drawing

Assertiveness

Concern for others

Taking care of their room

Rules the youth do follow or suggested rules

Skills to Teach and Reinforce
develop skills based on strengths
Develop Skills Based on Strengths
  • Identify the strengths that the youth have
    • List what strengths they identify
    • Others identify
    • What you see while they are in your home
  • List the skills that you want the youth to learn or they identify that they want to learn
  • Take the strengths that you see and add the other strengths or steps that the youth need to learn a skill that helps them
  • Focus on the strengths that will have the most impact
  • Shape and develop strengths into skills
  • Skills can be used to help address negative or problematic behavior
example
Skill#:: Staying Calm

Behavior- identifying ABC’s

Behavior- deep breathing

Behavior- counting to 10

Behavior- leaving situation

Behavior- voice/body check

Behavior-

Behavior-

Skill#:: Following Instructions

Behavior- maintain eye contact

Behavior- calm facial expressions

Behavior- calm voice tone

Behavior- acknowledgement

Behavior- completion of tasks immediately

Behavior- checking back

Behavior- asking to help

Example:
focused teaching
Focused Teaching
  • Skill #1
    • Once this skill is taught, then reinforce the use of the whole skill
  • Skill #2
    • When beginning to teach the second skill, stay FOCUSED on this skill
    • Begin to intermittently reinforce the first skill
    • Once the second skill is taught, then reinforce the use of the whole skill
  • Skill #3
    • When teaching the third skill, stay FOCUSED on this skill
    • Intermittently reinforce the skills that have already been taught
trouble shooting
Trouble Shooting
  • Positive behavioral contracting or charting with “super reinforcers”
  • Chaining
  • Shaping
  • Chunk it down
charting or behavioral contracting
Charting or Behavioral Contracting
  • Use a “super reinforcer” or reward
  • Don’t just focus on the negative consequences
  • Setup contract for youth to stretch, not generate a new behavior
  • Stretching positive behavior or a strength is much more likely to lead to success
  • Jumping to a new skill or behavior, especially if it is difficult, is much less likely to be successful
  • Avoid language that a dead person can do i.e. Don’t yell, don’t swear.
shaping reward small changes toward what you want the youth to do
Shaping – reward small changes toward what you want the youth to do
  • Identify what the youth is currently doing
  • Identify what you want youth to do
  • Use specific steps so you can measure progress
  • Identify some “in-between” goals
  • Explain what you want the youth to do based on the first “in-between” goal which should have some steps that the youth can already partially do
  • When the youth meets the first “in-between” goal and can do it for a week, depending on the behavior, explain the new “in-between” goal
  • Keep doing this until the youth is doing what you want
shaping following instructions
Follow instructions

Eye contact

Say ok

Forget to do task

Intermediate goal

Look down

Mumble

Do task poorly

Check back

Intermediate goal

Look down

Say ok

Do task

Check back

Follow Instructions

Eye contact

Say ok

Do task immediately

Check back

Shaping – Following Instructions

Praise and reward intermediate goals—building on a strength

chaining building the behavior you want by adding behaviors to a strength
Chaining – building the behavior you want by adding behaviors to a strength
  • Identify what the youth is currently doing
  • Identify what you want the youth to do
  • Identify the specific steps that you want the youth to follow
  • Start with a step or strength the youth already does or is easily learned
  • Add steps to the skill or behavior one at a time
  • Don’t add another step until the youth has demonstrated they can consistently do the series of steps without prompting
  • Keep adding steps until the skill or behavior has been learned
chaining following instructions
Follow instructions

Do task

Intermediate goal

Say ok

Do task

Intermediate goal

Eye contact

Say ok

Do task

Follow Instructions

Eye contact

Say ok

Do task immediately

Check back

Chaining – Following Instructions

Praise and reward intermediate goals—building on a strength

chunk it down
Chunk it Down
  • If your youth or child is having difficulty doing a task, even if they have been successful in the past “chunk it down”
  • Chunking it down means dividing the task into parts that the youth or child can do
  • They may be frustrated, overwhelmed or unable to do the task, chunking it down makes it possible
  • Chunk the task down to pieces that play to youth skills and strengths
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Creates a more enjoyable foster care experience
  • Produces a more pleasant home environment
  • More effective results for children and youth

This training and additional resources can be found at www.utahparenting.org

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