■ Skills in solution-focused thinking
Christine, or Chrissie as her friends called her, was a good student. She might not have been top of her class but she was a long way from the bottom, and had always really enjoyed going to school. Therefore, it came as a surprise to her parents when she started to say that she didn't want to go to school any more. She was too young to leave school, and her parents had high hopes that she might go on to get a college degree. Certainly, she was smart enough. But Chrissie began to sleep in longer, she dawdled while getting ready to go to school, and her parents felt they had to be on her back more and more. Of course, the more they were, the less she wanted to go.
"What's going on?" her mother eventually asked.
Chrissie confessed, "Some of the kids are constantly picking on me. They're either on my case all the time, or they just ignore me completely. They keep teasing me about the braces I got on my teeth last vacation. They're saying that I suck up to the teachers. I've had enough," she said angrily.
"Perhaps I should go and see the principal," said her mother, "to see if we can put a stop to it."
Chrissie objected. She was horrified. "That would just make it worse. Then the kids would really have something to tease me about." She knew it wouldn't stop them doing what they did behind the teachers' backs, anyway.
Chrissie's mom had to acknowledge that Chrissie was probably right. It wouldn't stop it and they might even give Chrissie a harder time. Wondering what else she could do, she went and got a sheet of paper and a pen and brought it back to Chrissie, saying, "Write down the list of the names of all of the pupils in your class."
"You aren't going to make me write down all the bullies and then take it to the principal, are you?" asked Chrissie suspiciously.
"No," said her mother, "I promise you I won't. Just write out the list of everyone's names and then I'll explain what we do next."
Chrissie was both curious and cautious, but she wrote out the list as her mother requested. Her mother then handed her a yellow highlighter and said, "Now, I want you to go through the list and highlight the names of every student that does not bully you."
Soon Chrissie had every name highlighted with the exception of three or four.
"Good," said her mom, "now here is a red pen. I want you to go back and circle the names of all those students who are usually good or kind to you."
From where her mother was sitting it looked as though Chrissie had circled about ten or twelve. Chrissie's mother didn't need to interpret what Chrissie had done and Chrissie didn't need a lecture about what it meant. The next morning she was up on time, chatted jovially over breakfast, and was waiting at the bus stop with plenty of time for the bus to arrive.
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