Problems always seem to arise more frequently during holiday seasons and these invariably create stress for everyone involved. Kids often present many more problems to their parents during this time, adding to the holiday stress syndrome.
At Love and Logic, we believe that times like these are opportunities for teaching life’s lessons to kids. To paraphrase an old saying about fishing: Solve a problem for your children and you give them a solution, teach your children how to solve problems and give them solutions for a lifetime.
If children are going to survive and thrive in our increasingly complex world, they need practice solving as many problems as possible—today! The following steps are designed to get kids thinking more about their problems than we do.
Step 1: Provide a strong and sincere dose of empathy.
Empathy allows the child to stay calm enough to solve the problem and learn from solving it on their own. Experiment with saying something like:
Oh no. This is a problem. I bet that’s really upsetting.
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 suggestions until you have asked:
Would you like to hear what some other kids have tried?
Step 4: Provide two or three alternatives for solving the problem.
Remember to avoid resistance by saying:
Some kids decide to ____________. 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:
Good luck! Let me know how this turns out.
We hope that you enjoy this holiday season and can find opportunities to teach your kids how to solve their own problems. For tips for helping parents remain calm during stressful times, listen to our audio, Keeping Cool When Parenting Heats Up.
Thanks for reading!