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Education Overview

The Problem Diary

SDM FAQSample Activity From the SDM Self-Control Lessons*

"The Problem Diary" is an example of a worksheet activity from a Self Control topic entitled "Resisting Provocations." This is one of the first in a series of tools designed to encourage children to be self-reflective, thoughtful, and responsible about their behaviors.

1. Briefly describe a difficult trigger situation that you were involved in this week. What happened?Description:

Who with:

2. How did you feel?

3. What did you say or do?

4. What happened in the end?

5. What did you like about what you did?

6. What didn't you like about what you did?

7. What is something else you could have done to handle the situation?

Before this is introduced, the children have already been taught a self-calming breathing technique and the importance of attending to tone of voice, eye contact, speech, and appropriate body posture in their interpersonal communications.

Students track their experience by responding to questions about what happened, where, with whom, etc., as a beginning effort at problem definition.

Students are prompted to think about their own contribution to interpersonal encounters: "What did you say and do?" and to do some consequential thinking by answering the question "What happened in the end?"

By rating themselves on a scale from one to five in answer to the questions "How calm and under control were you before you said or did something?" and "How satisfied were you with what you did?" the students are reminded to use skills they have been taught such as the "Keep Calm" breathing technique, and to consider what they need to do to maintain control in difficult situations.

While the Problem Diary is more a tool for self-reflection than problem solving, it does begin to anticipate the emphasis on a step-by-step social decision making strategy taught in the next phase of the curriculum.

*From Elias, M. and Clabby, J. (1989, 1997). Social decision making skills: A curriculum guide for the elementary grades. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers Center for Applied Psychology.