At times we seem to be ensconced in recalcitrant situations. We try to move forward, and our strategy doesn’t work.
- We resolve to get our two-year-old to stop biting.
- Our ten-year old forgets to clean his room–every Saturday.
- Our fourteen-year-old refuses to go to church.
Whatever we do to encourage or cajole our children into compliance, well, nothing seems to change except our blood pressure.
As we work through problems with our children, let’s remember to include our children in the process. Let’s ”work with” our children instead of trying to ”do to” our children with quick-fix manipulations or techniques.
As we consider a situation that needs a remedy, let’s try to SOAR. SOAR stands for: Situation. Obstacle. Action. Results.
Look at the Situation. Six-year-old Emily can’t seem to find her shoes in the morning, thus making the rest of the Decker family late and grumpy getting out the door, creating tension and tears.
Obstacles to Solution. Here are some obstacles Emily’s family had in this situation: too many places in the house for shoes to hide; Emily’s inflexibility about wearing other shoes; Emily’s ten-year-old brother Tim’s delight in hiding the shoes; Emily’s being oblivious of where she removes her shoes.
Actions Taken. Various actions used in trying to solve the situation follow: Emily’s parents encouraged Emily to put her shoes in her room; asked Emily to be more flexible about which shoes she wears; designated a special place in the kitchen for Emily’s shoes; and requested Tim not to joke around by hiding Emily’s shoes.
Results. Even with the actions mentioned above, Emily can’t find her shoes, or other vital objects, three out of five mornings. Yelling ensues; Tim and Emily are late for school and/or forget their lunches due to the stress.
What became evident to Bob and Marge in the SOAR process was that the problem was not Emily and her shoes. The overriding problem Bob and Marge discovered was that the peace and love within their family were being eroded.
Bob and Marge’s next step was to call a family meeting to problem solve with Tim and Emily using a five-step format.
Step 1. Recognizing that you have a problem.
Step 2. Identifying the problem.
Marge and Bob recognized and identified a problem using SOAR. Bob and Marge started the family meeting with a simple statement: ”We think we have a problem that needs some solving. This is how we see the problem. We want our mornings to be peaceful and loving so that we all leave for school and work without feeling edgy and upset. Do you see this as a problem too? How can we make our mornings more peaceful?”
Step 3. Brainstorming for solutions. The Deckers came up with ideas such as getting up 10 minutes earlier, putting out clothes the night before, going to bed earlier, banning practical jokes in the morning and being committed to calm mornings.
Step 4. Choosing the best solution. The Deckers decided that most of their headaches were due to clothing issues, so they decided to work on getting clothes ready the night before.
Step 5. Is it working? Each day the Deckers recorded on their calendar a ”P” for Peaceful or a ”T” for Tense. After a week the Deckers could see that their plan was working and made refinements as needed.
The Deckers didn’t let a bad situation get them down. They SOARed by looking at the situation, obstacles, actions and results they had already obtained to help them discover a larger problem. Bob and Marge included their children in problem solving, brainstorming to find solutions, choosing the best solution as a family and then implementing and monitoring their solution.