One of the things I love about the NVR methodology for helping children to thrive, is that it is so realistic. This methodology doesn’t put pressure on you, the parent to resolve 101 issues in one go. In fact, the NVR training gives us a technique for prioritising them. Using this method to work out where to start is vital, because you can’t deal with everything in one go. It’s not possible.

The NVR prioritisation method is called ‘The Basket System’. It’s a brilliantly simple way to make sure that you are dealing with the most serious and dangerous behaviours first.

how to prioritise your concerns using the basket technique

Sit down with a piece of paper and draw three baskets: a large basket, a medium basket and a small basket. Then, underneath write a list of all your issues and concerns about your child. This could be anything from most minor infringements, such as eating with their mouth open, all the way up to seriously aggressive behaviour like trashing your house. On the way you might include things like not blowing their nose properly, or failing to do their homework, truanting from school, shouting, self-harming, etc, etc.

Then you take your list and prioritise the items honestly. In the small basket you put the most critical things that need to be dealt with. The idea of using the small basket for this, is that you can only fit one or two things in at a time. In the medium basket, you put all the issues that are the next things that you want to deal with. In the big basket, put all the things that are less concerning. They may still be serious, but they aren’t as urgent to deal with.

An interesting result of this process is that you have to accept that some of the things you find really, really irritating, just aren’t important enough to put in your small basket. And, you’ll have to put up with them for the time being and deal with them at a later date.  By giving context to your issues you can start to see that one source of irritation is just not as urgent as a serious problem in another area.

Start working on the things in your smallest basket first. Use the NVR techniques that I’ve outlined in past blogs to apply every method you can to that one problem. What you might find as you work through the NVR pillars, is that even though you are focusing on a specific, serious issue from your small basket, other problems just naturally disappear as you build a stronger relationship with your child.

For example, when I first did this with my son, I was upset about the way that he was shouting at me in a rude and aggressive manner. But, I knew that this didn’t belong in the small basket. I had to prioritise working on the violence first. But, as our relationship developed and the violence stopped it had a knock-on effect on the shouting and that stopped too (most of the time).

When you start to see some success and you’ve eliminated the issues in your smallest basket, reprioritise and move things up to the small basket from the medium basket. This, rather than trying to tackle everything at once, is a much more effective way to make progress in all areas


Once piece of advice that I give my clients when they do this prioritisation, is that violence always goes in the small basket. Even when parents say something like: “oh no, the violence isn’t the most serious thing, I’ve just got to get him off the drugs.” I will suggest that they rethink this approach. Violence is unacceptable. If you aren’t making it your top priority, this requires thought and time spent trying to identify why this might be the case.


Get in touch if you need help in this area. Prioritising your concerns can be tricky, but once you have done it, the path to a happy, harmonious home is much more straightforward.

Or, if you’d like some one-to-one help, get in touch via email, I’d be happy to chat this through with you.

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