At some point in our lives, all of us will face challenges. It doesn’t matter what your gender, age or place of origin is. You will have challenges.
How Do You Respond to Challenge?
Challenge is universal, and research shows that there are two distinct groups that emerge based on how we respond in the face of challenge. One group of people responds well to challenge in their life. They use proactive means and become stronger through the challenge. On the other hand, we have a group of people that really gets stuck in the face of challenge. For whatever reason, they run into barriers, sometimes go backward and suffer quite a bit.
Behavior as a Skill vs. an Expectation
What does the first group have that the second group does not? What we’ve found is that managing one’s response to challenge is a skill set that can be taught and practiced. However, we have very little formal training on how to manage these challenges, especially social-emotional challenges.
Most of us don’t see behavior as a skill set. We see it as an expectation. We believe that people will just have appropriate behaviors at given ages. At 15, we expect an individual to behave a certain way. At 35, we expect him or her to respond another way to manage challenge effectively.
I spend time working with school districts and schools to introduce the self-regulation framework for teaching behavior. One of the first things I ask is, “How are you teaching behavioral skills now?” I typically hear a couple of answers. One is that they use behavior monitoring sheets. The other answer I get is that it’s a mix of ideas from previous leaders, recent training and an assortment of books on managing specific challenges.
What is clear is that most schools do not have a systematic approach for teaching behavioral skills. I often compare managing behavior to the skill of reading. How do we teach that? Educators typically have a robust, proven model of how they teach reading — or math or volleyball or whatever the skill is. When it comes to behavior, we’re not going about it in a way that makes sense and putting in the time and energy.
Self-Regulation is the Core
If we’re going to expect good behavior from students and if we’re going to reward and consequence it, a logical first step is to teach and practice behavior as a skill set. I have worked with many schools throughout my career to help them implement an organized, systematic way to teach behavioral skills, just like we do any other skills.
Bottom line is that self-regulation is at the core of how to improve your chances of success in the face of a challenge, and it’s a skill set that can be taught, learned and practiced. We have data to show that. Studies of over 5000 kids and adults who have been through the Self-Regulation Training System indicate significant improvements in self-regulation skills in just 12 sessions of teaching.
— Brad Chapin, LCP, MLP
Brad Chapin is a masters level psychologist and a recognized thought leader in the area of Self-Regulation. He is also Director of Clinical Services at a large regional medical center. The author of four books including Helping Young People Learn Self-Regulation, Brad is the creator of the Self-Regulation Training System. He is an international speaker, blogger and consultant on utilizing engaging, creative interventions from an evidence-based framework to help children and adults succeed.