Articles by Peggy

Overcoming Tough Problems with Kids:
A Narrative Therapist's Approach (cont)

Less helpful response:
Yelling and punishment. Ongoing sibling discord can lead to all members of the family fighting and living at odds for prolonged periods of time. Most families, when given the opportunity, express a desire and preference for peace at home.

Problem 7: Dislike of school/Poor grades

NT response:
Identify and re-author a preferred story. Help the child identify events, occurrences, or occasions where the problem was not present. Help them link these events through time and add meaning to them, making them more accessible in the child’s thoughts, ideas, and feelings about him/herself.

"Tell me about a time when school wasn’t so bad or you didn’t get a poor grade."
"Where were you when it happened, how old, how long did it last?"
"What kinds of things did you do to make it happen?"
"Who noticed what you were doing?"
"What would they say about the efforts you made?"
"What does it say about you that you were able to enjoy school at one time?"
"What does that say about what what’s important to you?"

Less helpful response:
"You just need to apply yourself." Again, this statement can be true, but just saying it to a child continues to internalize the source of the problem as being with the child. Guilt and shame can then lead to lack of motivation and ongoing frustration.

Problem 8: Hostility toward/Ignoring parents

NT response:
Increase helpful communication by uncovering what is not said, but implicit, in negative or hurtful statements. (Note: this conversation would be served well with the parents present, witnessing, and later given time for reflection.)

Child statement: "I just want them to leave me alone!"

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