The second method/technique Glasser talk about is Experiential Recognition. I would like to take a look at this method in this post. Once again I will use Glasser's words often as I write. Experiential Recognition is where we use positive reflections to help instill values. We create, for the child, a picture of a current or recent event and frame it in a way that shows the child how a desirable value is or was reflected in that moment. Glasser uses examples from the first method, Active Recognition and adds the element of values...
"I see that you are using red, yellow and green yarn to make your weaving. You are sticking with it, even though it's taking a long time to finish. Great work! Great perseverance."
"I can hear that you and your other group members are collaborating on your homework project. You're being a valuable member of the team, showing cooperation. I appreciate that."
"I see that you're really frustrated right now. You're handling those tough feelings without lashing out or yelling at anyone. You are using great restraint and power and using good judgement."
So what are values exactly? Values are qualities of behavior, thought and character regarded by a society as intrinsically good; as having desirable results; and that are worthy of imitation by others. They are principles that govern behavior and reflect what is considered to be good or bad, or moral and immoral, in a culture. In essence they are attributes of the heart. Some are... patience, respect, tolerance, integrity, leadership, perseverance, confidence, courage... I listed some more at the end of my Part 2 post.
Glasser explains that we can talk and talk about these values to our children without really teaching them how to live those values. When we think about a typical "teaching moment" with our children they usually happen when the child is doing something wrong. We say things like, "That's not very considerate!" or "You need to be respectful!". We tell our children to stop doing the behavior we are observing and then we launch into a lecture about the values they should have...sharing their toys, waiting their turn or thinking of others' feelings. At this time our children are on the defensive. They are probably not going to leave that situation with an internal desire to be more considerate or respectful. Energetically we are rewarding the misbehavior. How much more powerful is it for us when we are acknowledged and praised when doing something good, instead of when we make mistakes? If that rings true for us, how much more does it relate to how our children respond?
Some tips Glasser gives when applying this method are 1. Start with Active Recognition and add a comment about how what the child is doing or has done is a reflection of a value you wish to instill. 2. Make an effort to apply this technique in moments when your child is behaving well. 3. Express your excitement about what you're seeing in the child. 4. Remember that every desirable quality has many ways of being expressed and observed.
Glasser goes on to say that Experiential Recognitions deepen children's growing sense of who they are as people of greatness - as having and honing the qualities that comprise a great human being. I know that in my own experiences in life, I have been in environments that have challenged me and built me up to be the person I am today. Mixed in with those environments were ones that really caused me to doubt myself and my abilities. I remember for my husband who spent 11 years doing youth ministry and is now a pastor, there was one experience that almost caused him to leave ministry and pursue a different vocation. That environment continually focused on what he was not doing and should be doing, instead of what he was doing and how he was valuable. When I think about how situations have influenced us, I am convinced that this approach can be life changing in our children, no matter what age they may be.
I will leave you with a few more examples of Experiential Recognition. I would also love to hear your stories about those people or environments that changed your life.
"James, you're showing a respectful attitude in the soccer game. Excellent sportsmanship!"
"I see that you are very focused and using a lot of concentration. That is super effort!"
"I heard you ask Alex to stop chasing you, and I see that you got really frustrated when he didn't listen. I like that you used your words first and then you chose to walk away. You used really good judgement and great inner strength."
"I want to praise you for the honesty you showed in this tough situation. That is not easy, and doing the right thing like this is a great quality."