How many times have you rescued your child when they were presented with a difficulty? How many times have you brought a lunch or homework to school because they forgot? Have you ever fixed something just so they would quit crying?
If you do, you are not alone. Have you bought into the idea that it is your job as a parent to keep your child from having struggles, difficulties or what we often call problems? How realistic is that?
Do you live a life that is without difficulty or struggle? Did your parents prepare you with the skills to handle situations as they came about?
Part of being alive in today's world is to encounter challenges, which I am going to refer to as situations from this point forward. This is true for your children too. What if your role as a parent is to give them the tools to be able to handle situations as they arise? This is what empowered parents do to raise empowered children.
When a situation presents itself, empowered kids with use tools to manage their emotions, ask questions, be creative, and never give up until they figure out what will work best.
Teaching these skills effectively, is best done when the adult that is teaching them has a good practice with the tools. Perhaps it is something you learn together.
When teaching these skills to young children, only do so as is realistic to the child’s development and ability.
Kids best learn by example, so as you do, they will follow.
Avoid telling your child they are a problem solver. Once a person defines themselves as a problem solver, they will go about creating problems to solve so that they can prove how good of a problem solver they are. The skills will be there for them to use as life situations become present, without the need to define it as a problem, struggle or difficulty. We can acknowledge that, “I like how I handled that situation.” Or “I wonder how I could have handled that differently?”
Skills for Handling Situations
Have your child tell you what happened. Acknowledge what has occurred. You can reply with, “I hear you saying… Is that correct?” “What do you know about this?”
Encourage your child to come up with possible ways of handling the situation along with what result that might offer as well. You might say, “I wonder what you can do to make this better?” You can add some ideas by saying, “What do you think of this idea?” This might also be a good time to offer, “I wonder if there is someone who can be of help in this situation?” This reminds them that they don’t have to handle every situation alone. Asking for assistance is a valuable tool.
Going through the list of ideas of possibilities and asking questions will allow the child to get a sense of what might work best. “Which choice feels the best?” This question allows a child to connect to their own intuition and awareness. If a choice feels heavy and uncomfortable it may not be the best choice. However, if it feels light and expansive, there is value to that choice, which may not make sense. Continuing along that mindset, questions like, “What might happen if you do this idea?” “Does this feel like a safe idea?” “Will this idea hurt or help other people?” “What might happen afterward?” can also bring more awareness.
This is an important step. A child can be informed that with each choice made, one can learn more about making choices. It may take more than one idea to handle a situation. Let the child know that is a possibility and to keep asking questions. “Now what can I choose?” “What’s next?”
Following up after a choice with questions like, “How did that work for you and others?” “What would you do different next time?” “Was that easy or hard for you?”
When children see you take these steps in making choices, it not only gives you the practice, but it allows them to see you using the skills. Being willing to allow your children to witness you making choices that don’t work out so well and how you handle that can be very beneficial. It shows the child persistence and not getting hard on themselves with heavy judgments. Just keep using the skills.
Consider the next situation you and your child can make together using these skills. Involving your children in situations that affect them will create more ease and cooperation on their part. Maybe it is making a choice about what to make for dinner, or an outing to go on, or how to handle a bedtime situation. Those issues that you face each day that cause you feel frustrated regarding your children can be handled with these skills as well.