Teaching Your Children to Problem Solve
Parenting is a difficult job—-there is no manual for a specified set of issues, no easy button one can press when faced with having to make difficult choices. Finding the delicate balance between protecting them from negative influence and allowing them the freedom to experience the natural consequences of their own choices is one of the hardest things we do as parents.
Another job we have that is of grave importance as parents is to teach our children to successfully communicate and solve problems in a proactive way. The child who learns to navigate his/her world through successful communication is the adult who is happy, healthy, and well adjusted.
What can we do then, as parents, to ensure that we can solve issues with our kids–and help them to solve issues with others–in proactive ways? How can we teach them the skills that they need for successful problem-solving? Below are some helpful tips for solving issues with children.
1. Create A Positive Atmosphere Around Problem Solving
Teaching children that it is an exciting thing to find answers to their problems leaves them wanting resolution for themselves and for others. If you take a positive approach to problem-solving, kids will mimic your behavior and look for solutions when they are experiencing a problem as well.
2. Teach Children To Express Themselves Verbally
Quite often, when kids are in the throes of strong emotion, one of the first instincts they have is to lash out at those they are in conflict, verbally and physically. Teaching them to use simple words and phrases to express how they are feeling will do much to diffuse those strong feelings and allow for better communication.
3. Stay Calm
If horns are locked between you and your little ones, it can be hard to take a calm and positive approach to problem-solving, especially if they are illogically digging in their heels on an issue. Stay calm, keep direct conflict to a minimum and, above all else, let them know what is acceptable and what is not. Be prepared to deliver consequences for inappropriate behavior, and be firm but fair. You are modeling the type of behavior you want them to someday exemplify.
4. Ask Them For Suggestions On Solutions
Children want to feel heard and validated. They want to feel like they have choices, and they want to feel in control of certain aspects of their lives. Asking them what they want, then coming to agreement on acceptable terms for everyone, will ensure that next time they do have a conflict, they are coming to you for help and support.
5. Celebrate The Victories Together
You have had a conflict arise, you worked together to find a positive solution for all involved—congratulations! Praise your child for finding a solution to their problem! This is a self-esteem builder; children that have high self-esteem are less likely to get locked into self-destructive patterns and behaviors. Praise your child for successes, and proactively work together to solve additional issues as they arise.
Your work as a parent is never truly done; even after children have left your care, they are bound to have issues and conflict arise in their lives. Doing your best to proactively model effective problem solving while maintaining a positive outlook on your own life will teach them to value each and every stepping stone on the way to self-discovery, and this wild journey we call life.
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