**This post wasn’t initiated by any one specific event. A note that I had written down a while ago was that anything we say at school won’t matter if the relationship at home isn’t one based on encouragement. I aim to break that down in this particular post. This can also apply to any relationship, not just parent-child.**
I believe I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you do nothing else, then encourage. If you can never figure anything else out from the Adlerian philosophy, then at the very least, encourage those in your life. That alone is not necessarily an easy task (nor will it make everything sunshine and roses at all times, but it will help you through the challenges). Encouraging someone is very different from praising. To encourage, you do need to be aware of the effort that was put in, and what the other person is looking to achieve. Praising is easy – and can become meaningless. Or, perhaps worse, can become a source of external motivation for someone to want to do something.
Regardless, the point is we want to encourage those around us. Encouraging someone helps build a positive relationship. Positive relationships then mean that you can problem solve in a constructive manner.
A situation we often see at school is a parent who comes to us with any number of issues going on at home, that they want our help on. (Not getting to bed on time, not cleaning up, talking back, etc, take your pick.) They may or may not have been to one of our Family Ed Nights (more often than not, they have not been to one), so they may or may not have a basic understanding of the philosophy. What they do want is a quick fix – and that is not something we can offer. The Adlerian theory is a way of life and a way of thinking – it is effective, but not efficient, and certainly not easy to maintain and remember, especially in the heat of the moment.
Some of the challenges at home run so deep that there are understandably short tempers surrounding the issue, and possibly leaking into other issues. Now at school, when there is a problem, we write it down in the agenda, and address it at a classroom meeting. However, this will not work if anyone involved is still angry about the situation, or easily upset by it; it will also not work if you don’t have a base of a positive relationship to start from.
Sometimes adults need to let things go (“do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” is a phrase we have often heard from Tim Evans), in order to build a relationship. The alternative of course is to create a gap (or create a larger gap) within the relationship.
Perhaps some questions to ask first are: am I encouraging the other person in this conflict? Am I encouraged? (Another favorite saying: You can’t pour from an empty cup. If you are feeling discouraged, that may need to be addressed first.) Can I sit down with this person and be helpful? (If the answer is “no” then we do NOT suggest having a family meeting.)
We have suggested in the past to parents to get into the routine of family meetings – having a set day, time, and procedure of a family meeting. BUT only doing encouragements and only planning fun family activities. No problems until the relationships are on more stable ground, and conversations can happen in a helpful way.
Another great website to reference: Alyson Schafer