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Collaborative Problem Solving

Collaborative Problem Solving - By: Ross Greene, Ph.D.


This collaborative problem solving approach, by Ross Greene, supports teens and gives them the skills to problem solve constructively.  With this approach, adults use empathy and reassurance to help their teenager identify the problem, understand the concerns of both sides, and work together to achieve a mutual solution.  This technique improves communication skills, gives teens a voice, and teaches them a skill that can be used at home, in school, and in the community.  Although the following scripts can help reduce the likelihood of challenging behaviors, this intervention requires both practice and commitment from parent and teen to be successful.   Also, during the school year, staff will be teaching, modeling and using this strategy in the classroom to help students solve problems effectively. 



           Collaborative Problem Solving Script Parent


1.      Empathy + Reassurance

“I have noticed”  “What’s up?”   “I want to understand what is going on”

Reflective listening and paraphrasing of child's concerns/feelings

“I hear you saying…..”  “It sounds to me like….”

2.      Define Problem

·        Ask son/daughter to share their concern

“What are your concerns?”

·        Share with your son/daughter your concerns

      “My concerns are.......”

·        Recap both concerns

3.      Invitation

“What would be helpful to you?”  “Let’s think of how we can work that out”

“Let’s see if we can solve that problem”  “How can we take care of this?”

“Do you have any ideas?”

4.      If student can not identify a solution make a suggestion

“Would you be alright with……?”  “How does this sound…..”

“Would you be in agreement with …..?”   “What if we…..”



                       Collaborative Problem Solving - Son/Daughter


1.  Share your concerns/problem with your parent

·        Use appropriate words/actions

·        Share your feelings about problem/situation  “I am upset/angry/frustrated  because….”

2.      Listen to the parent’s concerns

·        Use appropriate eye contact/body language

3.      Share how you think problem can be solved

·        Use appropriate words/actions  “We can……”; “What about….”