Positive Life Changes

Workbook 3: How Do I Solve Problems and Make Good Decisions?
(Packet of five)
Pages: 124
ISBN: 9780878226443
Item Number: 5572

$49.99You save $3.00 (5.66%)

The emphasis of this workbook is on helping participants learn a step-by-step method for making decisions and life choices that builds on their awareness of the present moment, highlights their strengths, is consistent with their goals, helps them solve problems, and has positive consequences.

Because adolescents are more likely to make impulsive and often risky decisions, the ability to reflect and think carefully before making a decision is one of the most critical skills they must learn and practice. The final workbook in the program teaches the Eight Steps to Personal Success—a structured decision-making and social problem solving framework that includes identifying problems, setting goals, generating solutions, evaluating consequences for self and others, and making effective decisions. The underlying premise is that participants will behave more responsibly if they learn to deal with everyday conflicts and problems more effectively.

Sold in packets of five, not available individually.

Resource Review

“School psychologists are always looking for new, research-based interventions and programs. . . . By teaching students empathy, the importance of belonging to positive social groups, and other skills, Positive Life Changes enhances social skills and life competencies. . . . The assessment materials included with the program allow data-based decisions to be made about the intervention and the individuals in the program.”

—Amanda Pike, MSPA Newsletter
Minnesota School Psychologists Association

  1. Thinking About Problems—This first lesson explores the universality of problems in order to help participants realize that no one is without problems and introduces the Eight Steps of Personal Success. Activities also provide participants an early opportunity to take the perspective of others and see the world from different points of view. The ideas of “scripts” and automatic thinking are presented.
  2. The Dire Consequences of Some Decisions—This lesson emphasizes the importance of recognizing decisions that can have life-altering consequences. The activities provide an opportunity to reflect on real-life stories in which people did not carefully consider the negative (and often dire) consequences of simple decisions. (If appropriate, you can substitute “dumb” decisions for “some” decisions.)
  3. Is There a Problem? (Step 1)—In this lesson, participants begin working on the first of the Eight Steps to Personal Success by practicing problem identification skills. These skills include (a) identifying stressful events and recognizing how they can contribute to problems, (b) recognizing feelings and thoughts that signal that a problem exists, and (c) identifying problems when they first occur and not when they have mushroomed into larger problems.
  4. Stop and Think (Step 2)—This lesson emphasizes mindfulness, impulse control, and verbal self-regulation. It builds on and integrates the concept of mindfulness with specific techniques and activities. Participants learn how to replace hot-headed thoughts with cool-headed thoughts to encourage calm and reasoned responding (rather than a fight-or-flight response).
  5. Get the Facts (Step 3)—This lesson emphasizes the importance of getting accurate information when solving problems—this involves both getting all of the facts and checking one’s own biases and beliefs that may influence one’s perceptions and therefore decision-making and problem-solving abilities.
  6. Identify Problem-Solving Goals (Step 4)—In this lesson, participants learn about perspective, or how people see things differently in any given situation. They will also learn about problem-solving goals, how to prioritize their own personal goals, and how to balance their own goals against other people’s interests.
  7. Think of Solutions (Step 5)—In the previous lesson, participants discussed how different perspectives can lead to different problem-solving goals and how it is also possible for the same person to have different (and sometimes competing) goals. In this lesson, participants learn how to think about different solutions to problems; consider the difference between passive, aggressive, and assertive solutions; and learn how to get better at assertive problem solving when being assertive is a good idea. They will also challenge their beliefs about good and bad solutions.
  8. Look at the Consequences (Step 6)—Although some would argue that solutions should not be labeled bad or good on the basis of their consequences, it is important for adolescents and young adults to realize that some solutions do have more costs (and more severe costs) than others. In this lesson, participants learn to identify costs and benefits of different problem-solving solutions. They think about their beliefs about consequences and how to create win-win solutions with positive consequences for everyone.
  9. Choose What to Do and ACT (Step 7)—This lesson emphasizes how to choose from among competing solutions and translate these decisions into action. Participants learn more about decision rules that may help (or interfere with) positive solutions, how to make decisions that include positive solutions, and how to improve their social skills for better problem solving.
  10. Evaluate Results (Step 8)—This final lesson focuses on choosing what to do, doing it, and evaluating the results. Participants learn how to deal with solutions that don’t work out—how to persist even when they fail. They also have a chance to review and practice the Eight Steps to Personal Success.

The Positive Life Changes program uses a strengths-based approach with a sound theoretical foundation. The program components are based on the identification of five core competencies that have been linked empirically to healthy development and prevention of multiple adolescent problem behaviors:

  • Positive Sense of Self
  • Self Control
  • Social Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Skills
  • Moral System of Belief
  • Prosocial Connectedness

Workbook 1 emphasizes positive sense of self and self control.

Workbook 2 emphasizes moral system of belief and prosocial connectedness.

Workbook 3 emphasizes problem solving and decision-making skills.

These relations have been documented in the author’s recent edited volume in New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development: Guerra, N. G., & Bradshaw, C. (Eds., 2008). Core competencies to prevent problem behaviors and promote positive youth development. New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development, 122. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

In addition, Workbook 3 is based on a previous publication, Viewpoints: A Guide to Conflict Resolution and Decision-Making for Adolescents, which has outcome data from earlier studies:

Guerra, N. G. & Slaby, R. G. (1990). Cognitive mediators of aggression in adolescent offenders: II. Intervention. Developmental Psychology, 26, 269-277.

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