Solution-focused practice – A toolkit for children & young people (44 tools, games, activities, exercises)

The toolkit presents ideas for worksheets and activities developed by NSPCC practitioners to be used with children and young people aged 5-19 years old during solution-focused work.

Solution-focused practice concentrates on helping people move towards the future that they want and to learn what can be done differently by using their existing skills, strategies and ideas – rather than focusing on the problem. This approach treats the child or young person as the expert on their own life. Practitioners ask questions to help the young person begin moving towards the future they want and help them make positive changes in their lives. This toolkit is for practitioners who already have some training in solution-focused practice and are looking for resources to use when working with children and young people.

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  • Explaining the solution-focused approach to children

Exercises, games and activities to keep a child interested and engaged in the work at each step of the way.
Tools & activities explained/provided:

‘My journey’ overview
Ladders and tool bags
Jamie’s story

  • Problem-free talk

Ways to listen to children and acknowledge what they tell you, while listening out for ways that you can draw the conversation towards solutions.

Tools & activities explained/provided:

My likes and strengths
Strength cards
My strengths shield
Drawing and writing exercises
Outdoor activities

  • Establishing what is wanted: the destination of the work (best hopes)

Questions, tools and resources to ask the child or young person what they would like to achieve through your work together.
Tools & activities explained/provided:

Identifying the child’s best hopes
Crystal Ball
Which one do I want to be me?
Traffic lights
My hopes
Changing the channel
Talking through puppets
Using spider diagrams

  • Describing what is wanted in detail: the preferred future

Worksheets and activities to help the child or young person to envisage future, with their best hopes achieved, and to bring this to life as a possibility.

Tools & activities explained/provided:

Waving a magic wand
The miracle day part 1
The miracle day part 2
Drawing a time machine
Play-acting the child’s preferred future or using props
Using the sand tray
Writing a letter from the future

  • Working toward the preferred future: instances, exceptions and scaling questions

Instances, exceptions and scaling questions to identify behaviours and activities that are already helping a child to move towards their preferred future, and that can help them move closer still.

Tools & activities explained/provided:

Instances of my preferred future
Climbing a mountain
Climbing the ladder
Taking off…
Scaling with physical objects
Active scaling

  • The solution team

Identifying who in the child or young person’s life support them and will be able to help them towards achieving their best hopes.

Tools & activities explained/provided:

The helping hand
My solution team
Who is important to me
Drawing your solution team
Using buttons to describe the solution team

  • Building on success

Using homework and experiments for a child to practice after a session and using follow-up sessions to build on previous conversations.

Tools & activities explained/provided:

Check list
Paint the hand
Making an origami fortune teller
Making an achievement wall
Making a ‘moments of success’ scrap book
Salt jar strategies

  • Planning and working toward endings

Keeping a record of the strengths, coping skills and achievements a child has made, which they can keep after the work has ended.

Tools & activities explained/provided:

Cartoon strip
Making a vision board
Making a keepsake box
Creating affirmation cards
Designing a certificate

  • Further resources

Books and resources to support and extend this toolkit.

  • Appendix: tools to use with children and young people

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