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Say What You See for Parents and Teachers Paperback – June 23, 2012
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Blackard advises parents to “SAY WHAT YOU SEE using neutral observations to connect, validate, and calm upsets. When you see a behavior you like, add a STRENGTH to help children become centered and self-confident. When you see a behavior you don’t like, add a CAN DO to gain cooperation and encourage creativity.” In other words, rather than lavishing praise upon your child, simply describe what they’ve accomplished and mention the positive attribute it indicates; for negative behavior, describe what they’ve done and then channel the impulse behind the action to a more appropriate expression (telling them where, when, or how they “can do” that thing). The goal is to avoid judgment (negative or positive), recognize that “[a]ll behaviors are driven by healthy needs,” and “encourage children to think and solve problems on their own” so that they don’t feel the need to seek external affirmation in youth or later in life.
The few unique suggestions (of what to say to children in common situations) and observations that jumped out at me follow:
(To a young child who’s interrupting) “‘Grab that thought and keep it in your pocket for a little bit longer, and then when I’m done, you can let it all out.’”
(To a child who’s refusing to eat something) “‘You’re not eating it! No way.’” (“With no need to defend or prove a dislike, kids sometimes change their minds.”)
(Instead of praise) “‘You did that just the way you wanted to!’ [or] ‘It’s what you think that matters!’”
“Children can’t walk through walls, but they usually don’t get upset about it - walls just are. Effective rules are like walls [not doors].”
“Children find it easier to cooperate when their good intentions are recognized.”
“Avoid taboos; gain cooperation.”
I read SAY WHAT YOU SEE in one sitting (and have reread it many times since) and it just made SO much sense. It was really the missing link in my work with children. I am trained in Positive Discipline and I loved how your method meshed so well with the Positive Discipline idea of Mistaken Goals, where the child has a positive intention (to connect, be recognized, be a leader, etc.) but his way of getting there is often misunderstood by adults. Your method allowed me to stop, observe objectively, and discover what the child's true intentions were. It is very empowering, not only for the child but for the adult!
Top international reviews
I would recommend it to all parents!