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Kids Do Well if They Can

While diving into my inquiry process at TCICP, one of the first things I learned about was Dr. Ross Greene’s philosophy: “Kids do well if they can.” Greene is an American clinical child psychologist. He is the author of The Explosive Child and Lost At School. He also founded the non-profit organization Lives in the Balance. His research is focused on “collaborative problem solving” with children and adolescents in juvenile detention centers and schools, as well as inpatient, outpatient, and residential settings.
Dr. Greene’s philosophy makes much sense to me. What happens if we believe that kids can only do well if they want to? This makes for a rough year for any student and teacher relationship. If kids only do well if they want to, what do we expect from a child who really wants to do well, but does not posses the skills needed to do just that? Such a philosophy leaves a child hopeless and frustrated and this is what leads to behavior problems and aggression. I am reminded of teachers I had in school who would say to kids “What’s the matter with you?  Why are you doing that?” I believe that a child exhibits negative behavior for two reasons:
  1. They were not taught social and emotional learning and coping skills and/or
  2. They have a disability that leads to or inhibits certain behaviors.  
This is why Dr. Greene believes kids do well if they can. I agree with his philosophy whole-heartedly. If we just taught our children the skills needed to function in society like respect, self-control, self-regulation, and different ways of coping, we would have less outbursts in the upper grades. This is one of the reasons why I decided to teach kindergarten. I take stock in the the saying, “Everything you need to know in life, you learned in kindergarten.” When a child enters school at the age of five, they are about to enter into the next stage of development, the concrete operational stage. This stage is when they learn logical reasoning skills but are still confused about abstract ideas. My students know it is wrong to hit, but it is hard for them to express why it is wrong. In this inquiry, you'll read how I created ways and spaces for the Boys Club to express these abstract ideas and feelings.