William Glasser’s Choice Theory of Basic Needs
Last week I attended an evening presentation by Diane Gossen, sponsored by Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School. For twenty years, Diane trained with Glasser. She gave an inspiring talk covering Choice Theory and Restitution in the classroom and at home. According to Glasser, we all have basic survival needs as well as a need for:
- Belonging/Love: Friendship, Caring, Involvement
- Power: Importance, Recognition, Skill, Competence
- Fun: Pleasure, Enjoyment, Learning, Laughter
- Freedom: Choice, Independence, Liberty, Autonomy
However, there’s a different intensity for the needs, according to each individual. Which one hurts the most when you don’t get it? Which need is most important to each member of your family?
It’s important to know your children’s needs. If children can’t meet their needs in a socially appropriate way, they’ll meet their needs in a socially inappropriate way. For example, high-energy children need more choices and more freedom to be creative. If you know their needs, then you can create the opportunity for more options and outlets versus backing them into a corner. This model adds another piece to the nine traits of temperament that I’ve discussed in the last couple of months.
Diane Gossen also discussed the stages of Restitution and the Five Positions of Control.
|Restitution is about ‘making it right.’ It is an approach to discipline which recognizes that young people will make mistakes and that these situations provide opportunities for students to take responsibility, choose effective behaviors and create positive solutions.||”|
|—Diane Chelsom Gossen, Restitution: Restructuring School Discipline|
Restitution is a model for classroom management developed by Diane Chelsom Gossen based on Dr. William Glasser’s concepts of Control Theory and Quality Schools. Self-discipline is the goal of Restitution. When children are engaged in Restitution, their self-esteem increases as they evaluate what they can do to fix the mistake, take part in repairing the mistake and acknowledge their beliefs and values about how we should treat each other.
- Acknowledging that everyone makes a mistake. “It’s okay to make a mistake. When we make a mistake we fix it.”
- Validate the need. There was a reason for the behaviour. Move the discussion off the problem and onto the solution.
- Seek the belief/person. What kind of person do you want to be? What do you believe? If you believe it, do you want to fix it? If you fix it, what does it say about you?
The Five Positions of Control When One Has Authority Over Others
(from the work of Diane Chelsom Gossen)
The Punisher: this person may use anger, humiliation, criticism, physical punishment etc. Child says “I don’t care” and repeats offense.
The Guilter: this person gives the silent treatment, withdraws, makes guilting remarks “Why didn’t you do what you should have done? I’m disappointed in you”. Child says “I’m sorry” and has low self-esteem.
The Buddy: this person uses friendship and humor to influence the child and makes excuses for him/her. The child becomes dependent on the “buddy” and feels confused and betrayed when the “buddy” has to set limits. The child says “I thought you were my friend” and becomes weak.
The Monitor: this person uses external behaviour management strategies such as positive and negative consequences. The child says “How high? How far?” and understands limits but starts to find ways to get around the system, or gets bored of the rewards or negative consequences. The child becomes consequence oriented (both positive and negative).
The Manager: this person focuses on restitution first, and on consequences second. The child is asked “What’s your plan to fix it? What does it say about you?” The child feels strength in reflecting inward to come up with a solution and decide what kind of person to be in this situation. The child is then able to practice self-restitution and be intrinsically motivated.
* When you make a mistake and someone helps you solve it, you feel grateful, vs. being punished which leaves you feeling shut-down and resentful.
If you make a mistake, remember to model for your children that it’s okay to make a mistake and how you plan to fix it. If they make a mistake, consider it an opportunity for growth. As Diane says, instead of going “head to toe” with your child, focus on being “shoulder to shoulder”.
Have a wonderful week!
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