Posts tagged “lead management

Impossible to Love and Control at Same Time

Terry Crews, actor, author, and former NFL player, recently appeared on The Daily Show and spoke about #MeToo, toxic masculinity and domestic abuse. In the short video clip included here, he describes how he used to believe in the male stereotype of being in control, but that he came to realize that the important people in his life were distancing themselves from him. Now he realizes that love is the answer and that –

“it is impossible to love someone and control them at the same time.”

Click on the video link below and be touched and inspired and reminded – reminded that hope is still all around us.


It seems that wherever and whenever good things are happening the principles of Choice Theory are close at hand. Terry said so much when he stated –

“You telling other people what to do does not make you the boss;
you doing what you told yourself to do makes you the boss.”


Schedule update – I have decided to cancel The Better Plan classes for this summer (2018) at Pacific Union College. Stay tuned next summer.

Being What We Want Our Students to Become

The sun was in my eyes. Not all pictures can be great pictures. The important thing is I got a shot in front of a place that's important to me.

The sun was in my eyes. What can I say? Not all pictures can be great pictures. The important thing is I got a shot in front of a place that’s important to me.

I was privileged this past Thursday and Friday (June 11-12) to provide a Better Plan in-service to the staff at Livingstone Adventist Academy in Salem, Oregon. This was especially meaningful to me as my choice theory journey and the Soul Shaper book came out of my experience at Livingstone 20 years ago. I was principal of the school from 93-96. While several teachers (I always refer to the team I worked with as the Original Soul Shapers) from the mid-90s continued at the school until very recently, only one remains now, that being Chris Sequeira, who teaches History and Bible there. I was very pleased that the new team at Livingstone wants to learn about choice theory principles and consider ways to apply them in a classroom setting.

Chris Sequeira (on the right) and me in his classroom after the in-service was over, and just before we bid farewell to each other - him to see his daughter graduate from Walla Walla and me to head to PUC for graduation weekend.

Chris Sequeira (on the right) and me in his classroom after the in-service was over, and just before we bid farewell to each other – him to see his daughter graduate from Walla Walla and me to head to PUC for graduation weekend.

With the in-service behind me now, like school teachers and workshop facilitators around the world, I am now in that place called reflection. How did the workshop really go? What did I do or what took place that worked? What could be improved? What needs to be tweaked to make it better the next time I do a two-day training? Reflection is the act of self-evaluating, and self-evaluation is a powerful part of choice theory. It’s not about beating myself up over not covering as much content as I wanted to, or not covering a concept as effectively as I would have liked. It’s about authentically (and compassionately) reviewing what took place and then modifying my lesson plan for the next go at it. I did the best I could; now I think maybe my best can be better.


The team at Livingstone seemed to resonate with the choice theory concepts. Most of them had read some or all of Soul Shapers before the in-service, so that helped. They had questions about some of the psychology pieces, but I didn’t pick up any “dealbreaker”responses. Their real questions, the tougher questions, had to do with how do you put these ideas into action? How, for instance, do you use choice theory with five-year-olds? How would choice theory affect classroom management in a high school classroom? What do you do with the kid who refuses to respond to reasonable choices or additional chances for success? These kinds of questions are similar to the challenges we all face. Choice theory sounds good, but how does it really work?

The title and subtitle on the syllabus I used at Livingstone read:

The Better Plan
Being What We Want Our Students to Become

The subtitle came to me as I was putting the finishing touches on the handouts, but the more I think about it the more I like it. There’s a lot contained in the phrase, “Being what we want our students to become.” For one thing, as teachers and parents we tend to focus on the behavior of our children or our students. In other words, we focus on what we want them to become. Choice theory reminds us, though, indeed thoroughly explains the importance of our first focusing on ourselves and what we bring to our homes and classrooms. Choice theory emphasizes the value of understanding our own being – our thoughts, our goals, our habits, and our beliefs. Only as I come into an appreciation of my own internal control design can I share the theory of that design with my students. Only as I come to see the sense of the axiom that the only person I can control is myself will I be better able to implement a classroom management plan that honors the internal control design of each of my students.


Our first focusing on our “being” as teachers does not mean that we cannot seek to guide and influence the behavior of our students. It is always interesting, though, when we consider how our own thinking and acting may have been a part of creating the problem we want changed. The clearer we see ourselves the better our management strategies will be.

Like Ellen White wrote over a hundred years ago –

“Let it never be forgotten that the teacher must be what he desires his pupils to become.”                Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 58


Not that I want to compete with Amazon, but I can beat (sounds competitive) the Amazon price when it comes to the Glasser biography – Champion of Choice. Amazon’s price right now for the book and shipping is $30.17. My price for the book and first class shipping is $26, plus I will sign the book if you request it. (Media Mail shipping would be less.) Get in touch with me to order your copy at Expedite the order by sending me a check for $26, along with shipping instructions, to P. O. Box 933, Angwin, CA 94508.

I can now sell for lower than Amazon. Get the book from me.

I can now sell for lower than Amazon. Let me know if you want one or several copies.

ASDASA and Leading the Quality School


I will be in Dallas, Texas, for much of this week attending the ASDASA Conference, a large event for Adventist school administrators from around North America. I was asked to present a breakout session on Leading the Quality School, which I will be doing on Monday and Tuesday.

Leading a quality school is a complex task, all the more so when you throw religion into the mix, yet I will attempt to share The What, The Why, and The How of it during the brief time scheduled for the breakout.


It’s impossible to talk about a school or district incorporating choice theory without talking about lead management. If choice theory provides the foundation, lead management is about actually building the structure on that foundation. If choice theory is the target; lead management is the arrow. Lead management is choice theory in action.

Glasser talked about two leadership styles – lead management based on choice theory and the idea of internal control, while boss management is based on behaviorism and the idea of external control. Boss management is very different from lead management, although there is overlap between the two. Some assume that boss management is the exact opposite of lead management, but this is not true. The opposite of boss management is laissez faire, which is basically a hands-off leadership style approximating no management.

Dr. William Glasser (1990)

Dr. William Glasser (1990)

As a slide from the presentation conveys, both boss managers and lead managers want results based on high expectations. They differ on how they manage toward good results, but they both have high goals in mind. They also both want good relationships with the people with whom they work. It’s too easy to assume that boss managers are mean and don’t care about people, but I don’t believe that. I have known some boss managers with good hearts who do care about the people or students with whom they work. It’s very hard for a boss manager to maintain positive relationships, due to the nature of external control, but in their heart of hearts they want to get along with people.

Lead managers and boss managers differ in key areas, though, as the graphic below suggests.

Screenshot 2015-02-13 17.19.30

Others role vs My role
Boss managers tend to be focused on the performance of others, what others are doing correctly or wrongly, and the external forces that need to be applied to improve their performance; while the lead manager recognizes that the only person he can control is himself; the lead manager sees that so much about management is about what is inside of him – the knowledge, the attitude, the extent to which his ego is involved.

Then he added, Son of man, let all my words sink into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself.   Ezekiel 3:10

Individual-focused vs. System-focused
Boss managers believe that poor performance is an individual’s problem, probably caused by lack of skill, lack of effort, lack of commitment, or poor judgment. In their minds, the situation would be better if the individual took it more seriously or tried harder. A lead manager believes that poor performance, by an individual or otherwise, often reflects systemic flaws. In a lead manager’s mind, individuals perform better when needed support is built into the system.

Accountability vs. Solutions
When mistakes are made, boss managers hone in on who made the mistake and establish the level of blame that is appropriate. They might not be comfortable with the word blame here, but basically it’s about blame. Lead managers are more concerned with problem-solving and solutions than assigning blame. What can be done to fix this or make it better? is the focus.

Provides rewards vs. Provides support
The boss manager sees it as her/his responsibility to make subordinates achieve success through the strategic application of incentives and sanctions. Rewards feel better than punishments, but they both are on the manipulative side of the coin. Lead managers seek to learn from their colleagues what they need to do their job well and try to supply that need. Lead managers offer affirmations and celebrations, but not as a carrot to manipulate performance.

Evaluates vs. Mirrors
The boss manager conducts evaluations and shares her/his findings with subordinates. These evaluations reflect the boss manager’s view of the employee’s performance, often with four commendations for every recommendation. Rather than judging an employee’s performance, the lead manager’s goal is to facilitate the employee self-evaluating his own performance. The lead manager becomes a mirror to the employee, and through well-worded questions assists the employee as he reviews his own performance and sets goals for the future.

School leadership is about creating the conditions for students and teachers to be successful, and in the process to become the best version of themselves!


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There is a lot of choice theory material you can easily access on The Better Plan site. At the top of the page, on the left hand side, you will see links that are titled Year At A Glance. Clicking on one of those links, either for 2013 or 2014, will give you the article titles from that entire year. Click on one of the titles and you instantly are able to check it out. Do some exploring and find posts that are of special interest to you.


Signed copies of Soul Shapers or Champion of Choice can be ordered from me. You can also quickly order them through Amazon using the links below. There is also a digital version link for those of you with iPads and Kindles.

 Soul Shapers: A Better Plan for Parents and Educators

Available new on Amazon from $14.76; used from $5.47.

Available new on Amazon from $14.76; used from $5.47.

William Glasser: Champion of Choice

Now priced at $18.57 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.57 on Amazon.

Click here for electronic version of Champion of Choice.

Good morning, Mr. Kinney

Chris Kinney, in his classroom at Lower Lake High School.

Chris Kinney, in his classroom at Lower Lake High School.

Chris Kinney, a former student of mine who is now teaching in the Clear Lake area of northern California, shares a great update on how choice theory is making a difference in his classroom and school. He also shares some good reminders for many of us in the process.

Hi Dr. Roy,

I received the your email and a request to join your Choice Theory Facebook Page on the same day and I thought it was a happy coincidence.  I have been successful in putting in place Choice Theory practices within my classroom and have received a great response about it, as evidenced in the email below.  Other than that I thought I would drop you and PUC a line about how I am doing at Lower Lake High.

The first year at LLHS I noticed the lack of effort by the students. There was a huge culture of failure.  I approached the principal about creating a new world history class geared towards students achieving a higher success, he agreed and I had 32 students take a Honors level class the following year.  The principal and superintendent took notice and I was placed on a committee to help improve the school on with a campus wide focus. The implementation was this year and already students have said how much they look forward to coming to school, instead of looking at it as just somewhere they have to be.

This year the honors class has grown to two periods with nearly 60 students in it. At first the students were standoffish about taking the class but once in it the use of CT techniques soon leads them to a path of success and enjoyment of the class.  LLHS has also seen an increase in test scores for World History of 25% shift from the bottom two CST levels towards the top three in the past two years.  This success has directly been related to my teaching, and prompted the principal to make me chair of the department and teaching the AP US History class, both of which came with a nice pay bump.

Thank you for helping teach me the use of Choice Theory while I was at PUC.


At the start of this school year Chris was really pleased to receive a letter from a parent helped to confirm his efforts.

Good Morning Mr. Kinney,

I just wanted to take a moment to contact you to let you know what an impact you had on Corrinne.  Prior to the first day of school she was the least excited about your History class and would exclaim that she “hated History”.  When I picked her up from school the first day, she was so excited about your class.  She went on and on about your expectations, your teaching style and she was suddenly so incredibly motivated.  She feels that you have challenged your students to get an A in your class and instead of begrudging it, she is excited to face your challenge.  She would be so perturbed and bothered if she knew I contacted you so please don’t tell her.  I just wanted to thank you for kick starting my sometimes procrastinating sophomore.

Hope you had a great start to your new school year!


When I asked Chris if I could share his email with others he said that would be fine, and went on to share a few more key points.

By all means feel free to share it. It was intended as an artifact that CT works, and can work very quickly in some cases, such as with this student. What I have been doing shows the effect that CT can have on a school, even if only one person is actively doing it. Other staff members are picking it up and asking questions about my classroom management.  I really don’t go out of my way to label what I am doing as the staff is very suspect of “fad teaching” and immediately resent anything that has a label.  What I do find is they see what I am doing as effective teaching regardless of what it is called.  It truly is an amazing transformation that is going on at this school.

Several things stand out for me in Chris’s emails. One is that I introduce candidates to choice theory during their credential classes at PUC, but because of the pressure of state requirements, I am not able to go into a deeper training mode. That Chris is having this kind of impact with an “orientation” level of choice theory is amazing! Imagine what he could do if he dived even more deeply into choice theory. The second thing that stands out for me is the label phenomena. I really agree with Chris that teachers can be highly suspect of something new, especially if it has a label. He is right to simply do what choice theory can do and let people see the results, rather than argue with some about the theory. Chris’s email made my day as one of his former teachers, but it was more than that. He is on the front lines of education in a placement that many would describe as difficult, yet he is thriving and helping his students to thrive, too. May Chris’s testimony be an encouragement to all of us!


Those of you in the northern California area may want to be a part of a Choice Theory study group that will be meeting on Sabbath afternoon, September 21, from 2:00-4:00 PM at Foothills Elementary in St. Helena. You might want to attend the wonderful new church format at The Haven (formerly the Elmshaven SDA Church) and hear Matthew Gamble preach the Word, enjoy the meal provided each week by The Haven, and then head the short distance to the school for the study group. Mark it in your calendar and make plans to join us.

Gentle Parenting (and thank you, Milo)

A great list for parents, but just as great for the rest of us, too!

A great list for parents, but just as great for the rest of us, too!

What a great poster from Little Hearts / Gentle Parenting Resources! It makes essential points in a very small amount of space. Some of you may have seen the poster on Facebook, but I wanted to share it with the rest of you who may not have seen it. I have done some exploring on the Little Hearts website, from whence the poster originated, and I am impressed with what is being said and how it is being said. For those of you who are parents, you can check out the website for yourself at –

The Little Hearts message is so choice theory, yet I didn’t see any evidence of a connection with Glasser or any of his material. For a second, I wondered how the site could be so choice theory, yet not have any choice theory background. Then, of course, I am reminded that effective ideas can be discovered from many angles, by many different people, in many different locations, and in many different ways. If a certain approach works better, that approach is likely to be found by those searching for a better way.

Glasser’s ideas are an example of this kind of “parallel development.” Even though he was an original thinker, not all of his ideas were original. There were other therapists that placed a high value on a positive, caring relationship with clients, for example, and there were other writers who tried to explain the fallacies of the commonly held views regarding mental illness. Each of them, Glasser included, came at their ideas from their own unique perspectives. The upcoming Glasser biography will say more about this kind of parallel development.



An aerial view of Milo Adventist Academy.

I did a Soul Shapers 1 workshop last week at Milo Adventist Academy in southern Oregon. Along with the staff from Milo there were teachers from four other schools in the Oregon Conference also in attendance. I was blessed by the experience in several ways. One of the blessings came from making new friends. Choice theory has a way of opening doors to deeper, more personal discussions, and while I didn’t know many of the staff before the week started, I feel that I made some very good friends by the time the week ended. Another blessing came in the form of their good questions. They truly wanted to understand how choice theory could be applied in their lives, personally and professionally. As a result, I have been thinking about some of those questions ever since. I hope to stay in touch with Milo over the coming school year. Maybe technology can help us with that.


The 2013/2014 school year is about to begin. (At least that is the schedule for schools located on west coast of the U.S., from where I am writing.) As a teacher your physical, emotional, and mental “clocks” are probably counting down to the first days of school. Some of you are literally in final countdown mode as you process how many hours you have left compared to the To-Do list of what you still need to accomplish. Even for veterans this can be an intense time as you try to get everything done that needs to be done.

For those wanting choice theory concepts to have a greater presence in their classrooms, just remember that “Structure is our friend.” The opposite of boss-management is not lead-management. The opposite of boss-management is laissez-faire, or the lack of structure or guidance at all. On this continuum, with over-control on one end and no control on the other end, lead-management comes somewhere in between. A lead manager very much wants elements of appropriate and helpful structure to be in place. It is especially helpful when classroom Procedures are identified, clearly described, and then rehearsed as a class. Procedures help classrooms run smoothly. It is also helpful when the classroom rules, the behaviors — e.g. – disrespect toward the teacher or classmates, bullying, dishonesty — that are never acceptable are also clearly outlined, along with a description of the natural consequences that come after breaking a rule. Too many people wrongly assume that choice theory means that kids can apparently do whatever they want. Not true at all. What is true is that lead-managers want to create need-satisfying classrooms in which discipline is not an issue. And if a rule is broken, lead-managers want to lovingly confront the behavior and help the student to make a plan for its correction.

Structure is our friend.

I would love to hear from you regarding ways in which you are keeping choice theory elements in mind for the coming school year – either as a teacher or a parent. Take a moment and share an example of how choice theory is going to affect your classroom or your home.

19 Ways to Lead, Rather Than Boss

Leadership Road Sign

Inspired by the “Boss vs. Leader” comparisons at the beginning of The Quality School, Dr. Ed Boyatt, one of my mentors, has worked to expand and refine a list that identifies the key traits of effective leaders. Ed has been a teacher, a principal, a superintendent, and recently retired as Dean of the School of Education at La Sierra University in Riverside, California.

Boyatt on Leadership
Based on the Leadership Principles of William Glasser
Traditional Management or New Leadership

Power through position or Power through expertise

Leadership from the top or Leadership from beside

Permanent leader and followers or Interchangeable ldrs and followers

Boss leadership or Servant leadership (Mt 20:25)

External control of employees or Internal control by employees

To and for employees or With employees

Tell and command or Ask and persuade

Mandate and coerce or Collaborate and guide

Other-assessment or Self-assessment

Compliance from force or Commitment from choice

Manage others or Manage yourself

Caution or Courage

Status quo or Change and renewal

High fear and low trust or High trust and low fear

Conflict avoidance or Conflict confrontation

Negative conflict or Positive conflict

Stimulus-response or Choice theory

Organizational needs only or Blended needs of person & organization

Adversarial relationships or Collaborative relationships

Glasser, W. (1990). The quality school: Managing students without coercion. New York: Harper Collins.

Glasser, W. (1998). Choice theory.  New York: Harper Collins.


Has this list inspired you to think of other key leadership traits? Just click on the Reply button and share your thoughts. I’m sure Ed would love to hear your ideas.


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What does a lead-manager sound like?

(Not the actual seagulls that Tim photographed. These gulls were willing to fill in as substitutes at the last second. A big thank you to them.

(Not the actual seagulls that Tim photographed. These gulls were willing to fill in as substitutes at the last second. A big thank you to them.)

Lead-management is based on persuasion, invitation, and reasonable guidelines with natural consequences; on the other hand boss-management is based on directing, demanding, and often arbitrary boundaries with reward and punishment applied when boundaries are broken. Capturing the tone of a lead-manager is an important step toward becoming a choice theory teacher or parent. Today’s blog comes to us courtesy of Tim Mitchell, Bible teacher at Mountain View Academy in Mountain View, California. Tim has been a successful pastor for many years, but last year he decided to teach Bible, rather than preach it, and made the switch to the classroom from the pulpit. After attending summer classes, including Soul Shapers 1 at PUC, Tim sent the following Facebook message to his students, a message that captures the tone and content of a lead-manager.

Just took this shot from my backyard where I am working on my summer homework. These birds were about 500 feet in the air and pass overhead regularly. Whenever they fly over I think of you, my students — I want you guys to soar!

My summer school classes are about giving students room to feel freedom and plot out the course of their education as a team. Most schooling is too confining. It’s worse than the average workplace. “Sit in your chair.” Don’t talk.” “Do the (irrelevant) work I tell you to do.” I hated school from 7th grade until about age 22 when I was getting my Masters Degree. And I can see the same in many of your eyes. Once I got interested in school again my grades shot back up.

Pray for me/us so that Bible class can be more relevant, free, team-oriented, humane, and FUN! (Fun is one of the basic human needs!) Let’s begin working in August to set up our procedures so they don’t get in the way of your natural human interest in learning and experiencing new things.


I really appreciate Tim’s message. Teaching Bible, teaching any subject for that matter, can be challenging and it’s not unusual for teachers to turn classroom interactions into struggles and battles when students act like, well students. As teachers, we may not want fights, but we tend to go into fight mode when students “ask for it.” Tim’s message “takes the fight out of the classroom” and is setting the tone for a fun, productive, enjoyable school year.


Do you have artifacts — letters, messages to parents, lesson plans, management strategies — that have helped to implement a choice theory approach? I would love to see them, and share them, when you send them on to me. Please take a moment and send me something that has worked for you, or even that you are working on.


Remember to click on the Follow link to become a part of the blog. Our goal is to strengthen and support the choice theory community. Let friends and colleagues know about the blog, too. Thanks.

Lead Management and Car Washing

From a fellow choice theorist in southern California —

The weather had been nice for awhile and when I got home from work the other day I decided to wash the car. My almost-three son, Jacob, was playing at his train table and on the way back to my bedroom to change clothes I asked him if he wanted to help me. He said that he would like to do that. By the time I changed, my wife and mother-in-law were getting ready to leave and take our three dogs for a walk, assuming that Jacob would be going with them. He declined though, and said he wanted to stay and work on the car project. I was kind of touched by that, although Jacob is a bit of a homebody at the moment.

The dog-walking group headed out and I proceeded to collect things for the car wash. I like to do things in a certain way. For instance, when washing the car I get all the supplies out–the sponges, the bucket, the soap, the ArmorAll, the rags, the vacuum cleaner, the vacuum attachments, and a small trash can. I like to thoroughly do the inside of the car first, and then finish with washing the outside. I start by getting everything out of the car, including the floor mats. I throw any trash items into the trash can and vacuum everything. I was basically going through this routine, getting the shop vac out from the garage, when Jacob, standing on the front porch, asked me if the vacuum was going to be noisy. I said that it would make some noise, but not too much. He said that he thought it would make a lot of noise and explained that he would probably go back inside the house. I wondered what to do at this point, as no one was home, and I was supposed to be supervising him. I continued plugging the shop vac in as he moved toward the front door. I asked him to leave the front door open, intending to check on him regularly.

I started vacuuming and noticed that he was back standing on the front porch. Apparently, the noise wasn’t too loud after all. After vacuuming one side of the car, I started to ArmorAll the dashboard area. It was about then that it hit me. Jacob had said he wanted to help me wash the car, but I was doing it in a way that eliminated him. At the rate I was going the dog-walkers would be back around the same time I was ready to wash the outside and Jacob would probably want to head into the house with them. I realized I needed to change the order in which I usually did things. So, I cleared away all the inside-the-car cleaning stuff from the driveway, and got out all of the outside-the-car cleaning stuff.

Jacob picked one of the sponges as I put some car washing soap into the bucket and began to fill it with water, creating overflowing foam in the process. He was joyful as the foam in the bucket grew and talked about his sponge and how he was going to wash the car. He lightly touched his sponge to the foamy bubbles, never submerging it down into the water beneath, and then moved to the car where he then just as lightly touched the bubbles to the headlight. “Look,” he said. “I’m cleaning the light!”

“Excellent,” I replied. “I really appreciate your help.” We continued “working” together, him often re-doing places I had just rinsed for the final time (I thought), until mom and grandma returned. Jacob actually didn’t head into the house with them when they got back, but instead stayed with car washing job. I liked having his company a lot!

“From what I understand, one of the traits of a lead-manager is that he will try to fit the work to the needs and abilities of the student, rather than forcing the student to fit the needs of the work.”

Later in the evening it struck me that, while I didn’t really do it intentionally, that maybe I had acted like a lead-manager when washing the car with Jacob. From what I understand, one of the traits of a lead-manager is that he will try to fit the work to the needs and abilities of the student, rather than forcing the student to fit the needs of the work. I guess that’s how you say it. I wasn’t thinking, ok, now what would a lead-manager do? It just hit me, what would be best for Jacob? Even though I had to change my usual practice and do things in a different order (gasp!), it wasn’t that big of a deal and it made a huge difference in Jacob’s involvement. I think lead-management has a lot to do with my own thinking and comfort zones, rather than on what I am doing to my students.

Another thing I realized was how sincere Jacob was in his desire to work and to help. He was doing his best and wanted to contribute. I suppose I could have criticized and scolded him for occasionally adding to my work, but to what end. (A Gary Larson cartoon comes to mind, which I have included below.) At two years of age I just wanted to affirm his desire to help and to make his car washing experience as positive as possible. As he developmentally matures, then my communication will change, too. For instance, I will coach on how to clean the wheels and tires and will offer tips on how to get sap off. Through it all, though, I will want to keep the principles of affirmation and appreciation in mind.

Dog mowing lawn cartoon

Choice theory can really begin at birth. It’s more than just giving kids choices. It has a lot to do with how I show up as the parent or the teacher. My expectations set the tone. To that end, I look forward to many more car washes with Jacob. I always want him to feel the same way.

Structure is my friend. Signed, Choice Theory

Number 6 on The 7 Worst Things list has to do with failing to give children structure. The idea of structure may seem in opposition to the ideas of choice theory, and indeed, some people get confused on how the two can go together. Let’s check #6 out together.

The 7 Worst Things Good Parents Do

1. Baby your child.

2. Put your marriage last.

3. Push your child into too many activities.

4. Ignore your emotional or spiritual life.

5. Be your child’s best friend.

6. Fail to give your child structure.

A few choice theory things come to mind regarding children’s need for structure (actually, it’s not just children that benefit from structure) –

Lead-management and the middle of the road

When asked what the opposite of boss-management is, people will quickly suggest that it’s lead-management, which, to their surprise, isn’t correct. The opposite of boss-management is actually a management approach called laissez-faire. Boss-management relies on rewards and punishments and tends to over-manage in the process; laissez-faire relies on kids to manage themselves and tends to under-manage. On a spectrum, with laissez-faire on one side and boss-management on the other, lead-management actually falls between them. Lead-management has boundaries and guidelines and rules; the uniqueness of lead-management lies not in the absence of boundaries, but in the way you apply them.

Structure is our friend

Choice theory affirms the need for structure in the form of clear expectations, detailed instructions, reasonable boundaries, and consistent rules. A lead manager develops expectations and boundaries from a spirit that acknowledges the internal motivation of her students. She doesn’t want to set up or perpetuate a power struggle. Expectations and boundaries are created to improve the enjoyment and the success of everyone involved. Whether it’s children at home, students in the classroom, or employees at work, all of them appreciate knowing how to achieve more and have fun in the process.

The difference is in the application

Prior to their understanding choice theory, I have heard a few people say, “Well, if you can’t make kids do what you want them to do, I guess you just let them do whatever they want.” Nothing could be further from the truth! Both boss-managers and lead-managers have expectations and boundaries. The difference lies in how they apply the boundaries. Rather than bribing certain behaviors and punishing others,  lead managers want to guide behavior, first by creating a need-satisfying environment, second by invitation and persuasion, and third by gently requiring that reasonable boundaries be respected.

Getting out of trouble

Even when there is a warm, engaging environment; even when teachers or parents are attempting to create need-satisfying experiences; and even when the expectations and boundaries are clear and reasonable, children will cross the line and get in trouble. True, it will happen much less often in such an environment, but it will occasionally happen. Students in a lead-managed classroom know that they will need to get themselves out of what they got themselves into. If they have behaved in a way that has harmed a relationship, then they need to come up with a way to restore the relationship and keep it from being harmed in the future. They know they are supported in this process. Anger, threats, disgust, or guilt will not be directed at them. Usually, children and students know what to do to fix what they have done and can develop a plan to prevent it from happening again. Sometimes, they aren’t sure where to begin and if this is the case, the lead-manager parent or teacher is happy to help. Instead of arbitrary punishments that appear to quickly deal with the problem, yet really don’t address the issue at all, lead-managers take the time (in many cases this does not take much time at all) to help students understand what they have done and plan for better thinking and acting in the future.

It might seem counterintuitive, but there is actually freedom in structure. When the motive and underpinnings of structure are unselfish and designed to help and support others, rather than control them, structure is really good.

(I feel like I’ve left something out when it comes to structure and choice theory. Any ideas on what it might be?)

On to #7 in the next blog.

7. Expect your child to fulfill your dreams.

Friel, J. and Friel, L. (1999). The 7 worst things good parents do. New York: Barnes & Noble.

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