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ERIC Number: EJ895353
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-1089-5701
Missing Data: Discovering the Private Logic of Adult-Wary Youth
Seita, John
Reclaiming Children and Youth, v19 n2 p51-54 2010
In his classic book, "The Problem Child," Alfred Adler (1930) noted that if educators do not understand the "private logic" and goals of a young person, their interventions may do more harm than good. But it is not a natural process to empathize with persons who fight their well-intended efforts to help. Adults and young people are often pitted as adversaries both in real life struggles and in fictional accounts, each seeking some measure of control, independence, and power (Brown & Seita, 2010). But being adversarial is counterproductive; there is a better way to reclaim youth than engaging in tit for tat conflict cycles (Long, 1995). One approach is to skillfully and intentionally hear the voices of young people as a source of empowerment and a window into their private logic. While there are many potential stumbling blocks to promoting youth voices, the author describes two that are worth considering. One impediment to connecting is the adaptive approach by youth who draw upon years of honed "private logic" to outwit their perceived adversary (Seita & Brendtro, 2005). A second stumbling block to connecting is not intentional but rather is a survival "brain amygdala" reaction to protect against any perceived threat (Brendtro, Mitchell, & McCall, 2009). The author concludes that realistic empathy is not soft-hearted sympathy. It is possible to have realistic empathy even when a conflict is intense. But it requires reading two sets of private logic: seeing ourselves as others see us as well as seeing how others interpret our intentions and actions. So equipped, we can turn conflict into collaboration.
Reclaiming Children and Youth. PO Box 57 104 N Main Street, Lennox, SD 57039. Tel: 605-647-2532; Fax: 605-647-5212; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A