Parents . . . “Play your cards right [with your children] and the terrible twos can be a time of tremendous growth, learning and exploration. The same can be said for the tumultuous threes. And the fearsome fours. And everything that comes after.”

Speaking of everything that “comes after,” renowned child psychologist and bestselling author Ross W. Greene offers a “game plan” for success in raising human beings. In fact, he’s written the book!

Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child follows in the footsteps of his previous books, The Explosive Child (first published in 1998), Lost at School and Lost & Found. All four books explore a model of parental and educational guidance that’s come to be known as Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS).

“Children do well when they can.”  -Dr. Ross W. Greene

To date, the premise of Greene’s work – that children do well when they can – and the model he has developed and describes in his books have been implemented by countless families, schools, clinics and residential  facilities throughout the world. CPS has been researched and validated as a scientifically proven intervention. As the model continues to evolve, it also has become a practical guide for parents, teachers, grandparents – anyone and everyone with the challenge of raising humans today.

“There has never been a better time in human evolution to understand and help behaviorally challenging kids…because we’ve never known as much as we do right now about why and when they’re challenging and how to help them.  -Dr. Ross W. Greene

An Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech, Greene is the Founding Director of the non-profit Lives in the Balance, an online resource with a “boatload of free information” to help and inspire parents, teachers and clinicians to think collaboratively in solving problems with their children and teens.

What a Life in the Balance looks like for parents and their children

canoeIn case you’re wondering what’s up with the canoe on this page, Greene explains how he uses the canoe as a symbol of adult-child collaboration. According to Greene, “The CPS model has its roots in the treatment of kids with social, emotional and behavioral challenges…in other words, kids who are already in very treacherous waters. When it comes to helping these kids move in the right direction, many adults have a tendency to take control of the canoe and paddle alone. The problem, of course, is that challenging kids aren’t the type to sit idly by while the adult takes charge. They often respond to “control” strategies in ways that increase the likelihood that the canoe will tip. By contrast, CPS is a process by which adults and kids resolve problems together. When they approach problems collaboratively and work together toward solutions that are mutually satisfactory, things head in a positive direction.”

According to Greene, all children have the same crucial work to do: to figure out who they are, to discover their skills, preferences, beliefs, values, personality traits, goals and direction. Kids need to get comfortable with the person they are and then pursue and live their lives accordingly.

And likewise, parents have an important task as well: to figure out who their children are, get comfortable with each as individuals, and then help them live life to their fullest potential. As Greene describes, 0ur task as parents is not to helicopter and model our children into the form we envision – but to partner with our children, solve problems collaboratively with respect, dignity and compassion.

Of course, as parents we all have expectations and demands, as does the world. Green explains: For toddlers, the world starts demanding that they sit still and pay attention for longer periods of time, that they demonstrate greater flexibility and adaptability. As kids grow, we expect that they exhibit increasingly sophisticated, nuanced social skills, self-regulation and resilience – a whole constellation of skills related to an ability to solve problems, master schoolwork and homework, participate in sports, make and keep friends, handle frustration, settle disagreements adaptively, make decisions, plan, control impulses, and succeed in their life’s pursuits.

Parenting is a journey. Invariably problems arise. But as Dr. Greene attests, solving problems collaboratively with our children leads to improved communication, better relationships and fostering the lifetime skills we all need to succeed in the world.

What kids (and the rest of us) need to know now

On Sunday, November 20, 2016, at Congregation Shaarey Zedek  Dr. Ross W. Greene presents Helping Behaviorally Challenging Children and Teens (And While You’re at It, All the Others)  – a program of  Federation’s Opening the Doors Annual Anita Naftaly Family Circle Conference for educators, parents and mental health professionals. 12:30 pm Registration and Resource Fair, 1:30 pm Presentation followed by a Parent Session. To register, visit online or call Shoshana Baruch at 248-205-2549

About Opening the Doors

Since 1995, Federation’s Opening the Doors (OTD) Partnership Program has been committed to supporting students with learning, behavioral and social challenges and abilities to ensure that they receive a meaningful Jewish education along with their peers. Responding to critical needs in the community while collaborating with schools and congregations, the program has increased 400% since its inception and now provides a range of services and resources to educate, engage and inspire 1,160 students annually in 26 early childhood programs and Jewish congregational and day schools.

Got questions or a need to learn more?

There are more special needs of those living in our community than hours in the day and dollars in our budget to answer the calls. But every positive action counts. So step up, share this article, tweet and read more, volunteer, make a new friend: support Opening the Doors. For more information, call Ellen Maiseloff, Federation’s Director of Opening the Doors Special Education, 248-205-2533 or email