I went to the Beyond Consequences Certified Instructor Training a little over a week ago and thought I would share some of the things I learned. One specific thing that I was interested in was the subject of stealing. Now, I don't have a shoplifter or a kid who takes money. What I have is a kid who once in a while takes things that are not hers and hides them (actually, she has not done that in a long time but she used to). What I wanted to know was what is the best way to handle stealing/taking when the moment is long gone? If I catch her in the act or shortly after, that is one thing. But catching it and having no idea when it occurred is different. So, I asked.
With BC (Beyond Consequences) you are working from the assumption that all negative behavior evolves from fear. Likewise, if you take a behavior on the surface that shows as anger or manipulation and work backwards through all the emotions that could be causing the outward behavior, what is left is fear. The "high" a kid gets from stealing is their attempt to override the fear and anxiety they feel. The child is trying to regulate themselves. So even if you weren't there when it happened and all you know is your kid has a fairy princess crown that you did not give, you address the fear.
First you have to make sure you are not all pissed off and shooting stress everywhere. Don't think about your kid going to jail and having to talk to her through glass on some nasty lice infested phone. Don't project how embarrassed you will be when the 17 year old manager of Walgreen's approaches you as you notice lumps of candy cascading out of your child's pants. Don't worry about having to pay thousands of dollars in fines and court costs in the future. Just sit with your kid and stay in the moment that you are in. You can ask the kid what happened and you might be surprised with the truth, but don't be surprised if you do not get it. Then you say something to the effect of "I am so sorry I was not there for you when you needed me". See, this is reacting to the underlying fear and when you have a scared child you want to be there for them. Sound hinky? Try it and see.
From my view (so do not blame Heather Forbes for this) here on down, if the behavior is about control, manipulation, trying to get away with something etc, using that reaction is a great way to undercut the power struggle. Instead of amping the control up higher and higher, you are effectively whacking out the legs from under all the usual reactions. Then you can cut a new pathway in the brain to create a different cycle or pattern.
But wait! What about the consequences? You can't just let the kid get away with this! No, of course not. But issuing a harsh consequence does what..... makes the kid try harder not to get caught next time. You have your kid go return the fairy princess crown to the original owner. But here is the good part- you go with her and help her through it. She will be scared and worried and probably freaking out inside and you will be there helping her through it, imprinting yourself within the fear and its recovery. Aha! New pathway in the brain! Connection!
So, what do you all think? Does it sound too easy? Or like a great technique that you are going to try at your next stealing event? Or does it not make any sense and I need to explain more? Let me know!