When our children struggle we often want to try and fix things for them
However doing this all the time can undermine our child’s belief in their own ability to make decisions and confidence in their problem solving skills. The ability to problem solve and make decisions is paramount in life as humans are constantly faced with choices and challenges. The ability to solve their own problems is a huge part of resilience for kids.
When your child is faced with a problem, listen to their perspective on the issue and let them know you are willing to help and support them before looking for solutions.
Problem solving involves a few basic steps that you can help your child to learn and implement:
- Define the problem – it is very difficult to manage an issue if your child (or you) are unclear as to what the problem actually is. Also consider whether your child needs or wants to do anything about this problem
- Brainstorm ideas to deal with this problem – write down any ideas no matter how silly they seem.
- Look at each idea and discuss what might happen if your child did each idea.
- Encourage your child to choose which ideas he or she may like to try out. Support your child in picking out a few ideas.
- Encourage your child to put their chosen ideas into practice – try the first idea, see if it works. If not, try the second idea (and so on).
The fact is that kids learn to make decisions by making decisions, not by following directions~ Alfie Kohn
If your child seems stuck on choosing poor ideas, offer gentle guidance by helping them to think about the potential consequences of their actions. As your child practices these problem solving steps, he or she will become more confident in making decisions for themselves, and willing to try out their ideas knowing that they have backup plans if things don’t turn out as expected. And that fosters resilience as they know they can try things another way.
Read more: How to regulate a child’s emotions and behaviour