The authors of this book met when John Seita was a 12-year-old boy removed from 15 failed placements—and Larry Brendtro was president of a residential treatment program where John was sent by the juvenile court. This book follows the story of John’s transformation to provide a roadmap for success with oppositional and resistant youth. Dr. John Seita is now a resilience researcher at Michigan State University and joins with his former mentor to author this treatise on reaching our most difficult youth. In Kids Who Outwit Adults, the authors disclose the private logic that adult-wary youths use to develop their four coping strategies: Fight, Flight, Fool, and Follow. Some believe they must hurt or be hurt and turn to Fight. Others use Flight to hide or be hurt. Those most clever use strategies to Fool to engage the adult as enemy. And, many find safety in numbers as they Follow an antisocial group. The authors provide strategies to connect with wary youth, using resilience science and practical insights to help youth develop the internal strengths and external supports to rebuild troubled lives.
Solution Tree (2005). 172 pages.
“This is a book about healing relationships. It is based on a fundamental belief that every young person has the capacity to find connection and meaning in life. It is about our potential to grow and change even under the worst of circumstances.”
—From the foreword by Matt Damon
“Kids who distrust adults are highly skilled at hiding their real nature and resisting change. Most adults shun such youths or get mired in conflict with them. Punitive get-tough practices as well as traditional flaw-fixing treatment are reactive strategies that often drive these youths further from adult bonds and reinforce oppositional and anti-social behavior. But these young people are far from hopeless, for they have remarkable resilience. This book explores the private logic of kids who battle adults and provides a blueprint and practical strategies for connecting with and reclaiming them.”