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Friday, February 12, 2016

Re-Encountering God Using Greene’s Notion of Plan B

by Shawn Tucker:

I just finished Ross Greene’s fabulous book The Explosive Child. An “explosive” child, according to Greene, is one who is often seen as attention-seeking, manipulative, disrespectful, and as displaying other behaviors that adults and even other children find challenging. Yet Greene puts forward some amazing ideas, including the notions that all kids do well if they can and that the vast majority of challenging behaviors occur because kids lack the skills needed to respond successfully to certain frustrating situations. In that respect, no kids are “evil;” they merely display their lagging skills in their poor responses to various situations.

In addition to the fundamental idea that all kids do well if they can or if they have the necessary skills, Greene describes three approaches or “plans” that adults employ for dealing with challenging behaviors. Plan A is where the adults set, or better put, impose behavioral norms on kids and demand compliance. This approach actually works with children who possess the skills necessary to meet those imposed standards. Plan B is when an adult genuinely listens to a child and then equally genuinely invites the child to collaborate with the adult on solving problems that they both recognize. Working as partners, the adult and child develop practical, realistic solutions that satisfy both parties. Plan C is when adults judiciously and temporarily set aside some challenging behaviors in order to focus efforts on challenges that have a higher priority.

This is the most general overview of Greene’s insights, yet while I encourage those interested to read this book, this should be a sufficient summary to explore some insights about God that Greene’s work might reveal. Greene does not talk about God at all in this book, but what if one’s relationship with one’s parents impacted one’s view of God? What if, for instance, you lived in a home where parents used Plan A exclusively or almost exclusively? You may grow up to see God as Someone who imposes upon humans norms and standards and then demands compliance. The righteous are those who have the skills to meet those demands, while the wicked cannot.

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