Reading Recommendations: A new lens on behavior

Are you looking for a great book to add to your summer reading list? How about a book for a book study for your parent’s group or school team? Here are a few of our favorite books at the Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint. These are all books that provide helpful information and strategies that can not only change your perspective but your life.

The School Discipline Fix: Changing Behavior Using the Collaborative Problem Solving Approach

J. Stuart Ablon and Alisha R. Pollastri (2018)
Amazon | Audible | AASR Live

Traditional school discipline is ineffective and often damaging, relying heavily on punishments and motivational procedures aimed at giving students the incentive to behave better. There is a better way.

Dr. Ablon and his co-author Dr. Pollastri have been working with schools throughout the world to refine the Collaborative Problem-Solving (CPS) approach, creating a step-by-step program for educators based on the recognition―from research in neuroscience―that challenging classroom behaviors are due to a deficit of skill, not will. This book provides everything needed to implement the program, including reproducible assessment tools to pinpoint skill deficits in areas like frustration tolerance and flexibility that are at the root of students’ challenging behaviors.

Whether you are a teacher, counselor, coach, or administrator, the CPS approach to school discipline will provide you with a new mindset, an assessment process, and an effective intervention plan for each of your challenging students. You will walk away with strategies that are immediately actionable with the students in your life.

Building a Trauma-Informed Restorative School

Joe Brummer with Margaret Thorsborne (2020)
Amazon | AASR Live

Covering both theory and practice, this book will teach educators everything they need to know about developing restorative practices in their education settings, in a way that is also trauma-informed.

The first part of the book addresses the theory and philosophy of restorative approaches, and of trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive schools. The second part outlines the five restorative skills (mindfulness, honest expression, empathy, the art of asking questions and the art of requests), what they look like in practice (including using circles, respect agreements and restorative dialogue), and how to implement them. Every strategy is clearly explained and adapted to be appropriate for children and adults who have experienced trauma.

Everything the book discusses has been especially designed to be adapted for different school settings and their particular challenges.

Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges

Mona Delahooke Ph.D. (2019)
Amazon | Audible | AASR Live

In Beyond Behaviors, internationally known pediatric psychologist, Dr. Mona Delahooke describes behaviors as the tip of the iceberg, important signals that we should address by seeking to understand a child’s individual differences in the context of relational safety.

Featuring impactful worksheets and charts, this accessible book offers professionals, educators and parents tools and techniques to reduce behavioral challenges and promote psychological resilience and satisfying, secure relationships.

Connections Over Compliance: Rewiring Our Perceptions of Discipline

Lori L. Desautels Ph.D. (2020)
Amazon | Audible | AASR Live

The developing brains of our children need to “feel” safe. 

Children who carry chronic behavioral challenges are often met with 
reactive and punitive practices that can potentially reactivate the developing stress response systems. 

This book deeply addresses the need for co-regulatory  and relational touch point practices, shifting student-focused behavior management protocols to adult regulated brain and body states which are brain aligned, preventive, and relational discipline protocols. This new lens for discipline benefits all students by reaching for sustainable behavioral changes through brain state awareness rather than compliance and obedience.   

Punished By Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise, and Other Bribes

Alfie Kohn (1999)
Amazon | Audible

Since its publication in 1993, this groundbreaking book has persuaded countless parents, teachers, and managers that attempts to manipulate people with incentives may seem to work in the short run, but they ultimately fail and even do lasting harm. Drawing from hundreds of studies, Kohn demonstrates that we actually do inferior work when we are enticed with money, grades, or other incentives—and are apt to lose interest in whatever we were bribed to do.

Promising goodies to children for good behavior, meanwhile, can never produce anything more than temporary obedience. Even praise can become a verbal bribe that gets kids hooked on our approval.

Rewards and punishments are two sides of the same coin—and the coin doesn’t buy much. What is needed, Kohn explains, is an alternative to both ways of controlling people. Hence, he offers practical strategies for parents, teachers, and managers to replace carrots and sticks.

What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing

Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey (2021)
Amazon | Audible

Have you ever wondered “Why did I do that?” or “Why can’t I just control my behavior?” Others may judge our reactions and think, “What’s wrong with that person?” When questioning our emotions, it’s easy to place the blame on ourselves; holding ourselves and those around us to an impossible standard. It’s time we started asking a different question.

Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”

Here, Winfrey shares stories from her own past, understanding through experience the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma and adversity at a young age. In conversation throughout the book, she and Dr. Perry focus on understanding people, behavior, and ourselves. It’s a subtle but profound shift in our approach to trauma, and it’s one that allows us to understand our pasts in order to clear a path to our future―opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way.

Self-Reg: How to Help Your Child (and You) Break the Stress Cycle and Successfully Engage with Life 

Dr. Stuart Shanker (2017)
Amazon | Audible | AASR Live

Self-Reg is a groundbreaking book that presents an entirely new understanding of your child’s emotions and behavior and a practical guide for parents to help their kids engage calmly and successfully in learning and life. Grounded in decades of research and working with children and parents by Dr. Shanker, Self-Reg realigns the power of the parent-child relationship for positive change. Self-regulation is the nervous system’s way of responding to stress. We are seeing a generation of children and teens with excessively high levels of stress, and, as a result, an explosion of emotional, social, learning, behavior, and physical health problems. But few parents recognize the “hidden stressors” that their children are struggling with: physiological as well as social and emotional. An entrenched view of child rearing sees our children as lacking self-control or willpower, but the real basis for these problems lies in excessive stress.

Talk to Me: What educators (and others) can learn about de-escalation from hostage negotiators

Emma Van Der Klift (2019)
Amazon | AASR Live

Student disruption at school can take up an enormous amount of time, energy, and even financial resources. Confrontations can result not only in personal stress for both students and teachers, but in conflicts that involve families and the larger community. However, it’s not always easy to know what to do or how to respond.In this original and highly engaging book, Emma Van der Klift suggests that “cross-pollination” – applying the lenses of one field to the issues faced by another – can generate unexpected insights and open new ways to think and act. Based on a year’s worth of fascinating interviews with hostage negotiators from all over North America, this book shows how crisis negotiators de-escalate distraught individuals through communication. Instead of relying on either punishment, reward or directives – something commonly done in education – hostage negotiators rely on listening and support and are successful in resolving more than 90 percent of the issues they are called upon to negotiate without loss of life, injury, or the use of coercion. This book offers a wealth of suggestions and advice from negotiators, and is not only about how we can help someone to de-escalate when they are in crisis, but also, and perhaps most importantly, about how we can learn to effectively de-escalate ourselves during difficult interchanges.

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