Imagining a preferred future
Helping children to describe a future where their problem behaviours are reduced or absent is central to the solution focused approach to mentoring. Asking the child about their preferred future encourages them to imagine various possibilities and helps to make these feel much more achievable.
PREFERRED FUTURE passport
It may be easier for the child to talk about their preferred future through puppets, action figures or while dressed up as a superhero.
Children know in their own terms what they want. These desires may be as simple as ‘have more friends’ or ‘be in less trouble at school’ or ‘be more confident’. Acknowledging the child’s view helps the child to realise that they hold the key to their own success.
How you can help the child to explore his/her best hopes:
Ask the child to draw a picture of their best hopes.
The child can make a collage of the best hopes they have for their mentoring year.
Ask the child their favourite song or TV programme. By discussing why particluar lyrics or story lines are important to the child you can help them to identify their best hopes.
BEST HOPES dice
The Tomorrow Question
Another technique that can help a child to imagine a future without their difficulties is called the tomorrow question.
This involves asking the child to think about how they would act or feel differently in their new future and what differences other people, such as their teacher or their family members would notice. The mentor helps the child to build up a detailed, verbal picture of this scenario.
Imagining the future in detail helps to create a sense of possibility for the child. Having talked about positive situations that could happen, that other people could realistically notice, the child may feel it more possible for them to actually try some of these things out.
‘What would happen at school tomorrow if things were going well?’
‘My teacher would give me a green form’
‘What might you have done to get the green form?’
‘I would have been listening to the teacher when she was talking and sitting quietly doing my work’
Time travel THE TOMORROW QUESTION
You could ask the child to write a letter to himself from his imagined future.
You can ask the child:
What advice does this future self want to give to you in the present?
What’s different at home and school in this imagined future?
What strengths and qualities did your future self use to get to this imagined future?
The Great Instead
When the child tells you the things they would like to see less of, such as ‘I want to get into less trouble at school’ it can be difficult to know how to help the child think about ways of solving their difficulties in a solution focused way. A very helpful question is: ‘What would you like to see instead?’, the child can then name concrete things that they would like to happen, making it easier for them to work on solution building.