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October 10, 2013
Allow Life to Be the Teacher
When children experience problems in life, some whine and complain or have bad attitudes. But problems and decisions make great opportunities to teach children to face life’s challenges.
Wanting to spare their children frustration in life, parents sometimes step in unnecessarily, but by rescuing kids they may be robbing them of learning opportunities. Frustration often provides motivation to children, and a parent’s patient coaching can help children experience the success of accomplishing a goal or overcoming a roadblock. In order for this to take place, however, parents must sometimes give up the role of problem solver and take on the role of coach or counselor as life teaches a valuable lesson.
Developing good decision-making skills gives children the ability to define a problem, look at consequences of various alternatives, and then choose the best solution among the options. Allowing children to solve some problems for themselves communicates an important message to them. It says, “I believe in you. You have what it takes.” It’s a great confidence builder.
Don’t be too quick to solve a problem or make a decision for your kids. When possible, involve the child in the process, not just in the final product. Much of the day-to- day problem solving and decision-making in family life can demonstrate cooperation and teamwork as parents and children work together. Cooperative decision-making teaches children valuable skills of negotiation, compromise, communication, and creating alternatives.
You might even take a problem-solving approach to a relational problem such as an angry response when asked to leave the video game to come to dinner. “Son, we have a problem. I’ve noticed that you have a tendency to be angry and grunt at me when I tell you to leave the video game and do something else. That’s a problem. I’ll know you’re mature enough to play video games if you have a good response when interrupted. Before you start playing the video game today, I’d like you to develop a plan for when I interrupt you that’s more gracious. I’d like to know what you’re going to say to yourself and then what you’re going to say to me.”
By getting the child involved in the solution, children are more apt to process the issues on a heart level.
This parenting tip comes from the the book, The Christian Parenting Handbook by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.