Five Simple Steps to Help Kids Solve Their Own Problems

Five Simple Steps to Help Kids Solve Their Own Problems

Too many kids grow up being unable to confront life’s problems and they end up making poor decisions. As parents and teachers, we want our kids to grow into adults who can solve problems and make good decisions. Love and Logic helps parents and teachers guide their kids to be accountable for the problems they create—and guide them in a way that increases the love and respect their kids feel for them.

When a child causes a problem, Love and Logic teaches that the adult should hand the problem back to the child in loving ways. This can be done in five simple steps.

Step 1: Provide a strong and sincere dose of empathy.

This is the most important step because without empathy, the child cannot stay calm enough to solve the problem and learn from it. Experiment by saying things like:

“Oh no. This is a problem. I bet that’s really upsetting.”

“How sad.”

Step 2: Hand the problem back.

After you have proven that you care, ask:

“What do you think you might do to solve this problem?”

Don’t be shocked if the child mumbles, “I don’t know.”

Step 3: Ask permission to share what “some kids” have tried.

Avoid giving these suggestions until you have asked:

“Would you like to hear what some other kids have tried?”

At this point, offer a variety of choices that range from poor to good. It’s usually best to start out with the poor choices—kids will often dismiss the first choices regardless of their merit.

Step 4: Suggest two or three alternatives for solving the problem.

As you suggest alternatives, remember to avoid creating resistance by saying:

“Some kids decide to __________________________________.”

As they consider each choice, you can ask:

“How would that work for you?”

Step 5: Allow the child to solve or not to solve the problem.

Resist the urge to tell the child which alternative to pick. End the session by showing your faith in the child and say:

“Good luck! Let me know how this turns out!”

Have no fear if it turns out that the child makes a poor choice. Making mistakes is part of learning how to make good decisions!

This process can also be used effectively with disagreements between siblings. Our Sibling Rivalry audio has additional tips to help parents navigate sibling disagreements and bickering.


Thanks for reading!

Jim Fay and Charles Fay, Ph.D.

angry siblings staring at each other

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