Advice on Giving Advice? This seems so ‘Meta’!


One Home Visitor asks a question on a topic that many of us struggle to manage…”What can I do to avoid giving advice to my families?” This is a bit of a tricky one…we wondered…can one of our GGK trainers answer this without actually giving advice?? Hmmm…

 Shawna Thomerson, one of our Master Trainers stepped up to the plate. She asks, I wonder what would happen if you made Problem Talk your ‘Home Visitor BFF’? She goes on to explain that

Many home visitors, have found that this strategy keeps them from giving advice.  If a parent asks a question, they have discovered that giving it back to the parent by asking a Problem Talk question in return gets the parent into that critical thinking part of their brain.

The strategy includes questions like:

  •  What have you already tried?
  • How are you feeling about this?
  • When did this begin?
  • What do you suppose led to this happening?
  • Where do you suppose we could find that information?
  • Who has given you advice…What did they suggest?
  • What do you think your best options are for turning this around?
  • Where might you go for assistance?
  • What GGK or GGF module could we do today to help you resolve this situation?

And in closing, Shawna asks, “Have you discovered the Problem Talk module in the 2014 Growing Great Families manual? Now you can work on mastering your own Problem Talk skills while you’re teaching your families to “Problem Talk” with each other…How perfect is THAT?!”

Sounds very “Meta” Shawna…well done…you have managed to get us into the analytical part of our own brains while gaining a better understanding of how we might help parents get into that same analytical part of their brains!

Your ability to avoid giving advice to us on not giving advice demonstrates clearly for us how to remain strength-based and solution-focused in our work with families. The Home Visitor-Parent relationship is strengthened so much when we work together as partners, isn’t it?

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