One of the most important life skills you can teach your children as they wander the lonely road of life, is how to solve life’s little problems on their own.
This baby is gonna be used and constantly evolved throughout their lives. It’ll help them figure out what they want or need in life, how to go about getting/achieving it and how to withstand the inevitable challenges that life will lob in their direction.
Like many other life skills, this bundle of fun is best learned gradually and the sooner your child’s Inner Imps start experiencing successes, the easier they’ll find it.
So where do you start?
“Small” is the answer and here are a few things you CANDo to help your child build a solid foundation from which this essential everyday life skill can grow and flourish.
It’s Difficult to Solve a Problem Until you Know What It Is?
One of the biggest tools your child’s Inner Imps are going to have in their problem-solving tool kit, is the ability to define a problem/situation on the basis of their feelings – be they physical or emotional – and be able to verbalise these feelings to themselves and those around them.
You can begin teaching them all this before they can even talk, by verbalising their feelings for them.
“I can see you’re tired, your eyelids are all droopy.” Or “I know, you’re sad you can’t stay and play longer.”
You can do this even if they are already talking, by putting a name to things and encouraging them to be the ones that describe any problem they are facing or emotion they’re feeling. Knowing how they feel and realising the problem/challenge that is facing them, is the first step towards finding a solution.
Let Them Decide
Of course, as a young child, your little one is going to be completely dependent on you taking responsibility for making choices and thus solving problems for them but, as they grow, you need to let go. Your aim, as Life Skill’s instructor, is to eke out how much responsibility they have for each and every decision they need to make and problem they face.
At first, make decisions easy by giving them a limited multiply-choice for everyday things. Do you want to wear the blue shirt or a red one? Do you want toast or cereals for breakfast?
Your aim here is to show your child that every decision/situation has a variety of potential answers/solutions and to get them thinking. By getting them to consider the advantages and disadvantages of all their options, you’re giving them the opportunity to put a little muscle on their own Inner Imp Reasoning.
It’s a common thing for parents to over-function for their children. We DO too much for them in the name of “love” or to make up for the fact that we don’t have as much time for them as we’d like. By doing things and making their decisions for them all the time, we’re denying them the ability to hone the muscles and skills of the Inner Imps that make up “Team Them”.
If you give them room to work, when faced with a decision/situation, your child is more likely to be able to come up with their own list of options and develop a Self-Esteem Imp with sufficient confidence to make the right choices.
Of course, you’re not going to be able to control how thick and fast problems surface for your little ones, but what you can do is control how much “responsibility” for solving situations you expose them to. Start off by letting them solve small problems in calm situations with very little emotional charge. With every success your child experiences – no matter how small – they’ll build confidence and their Self-Esteem will be increasingly able and confident to face and tackle the next, and probably more difficult, problem you let them face.
Remember Every Child is Individual
Just because little Johnny could solve a particular problem at a certain age, doesn’t mean your little Jane will be able to. Bear in mind that, every child is unique and will have their own aptitudes and levels of maturity. The level of responsibility you give needs to be individually determined. Ask yourself the simple question;
“What are the chances of my child succeeding in solving this problem alone.”
Judging on the answer, you can determine whether your child’s capable of resolving it and how much of your “help” they’ll need.
Try to avoid comparing your child too much with others. They really are all different.
Keep It Positive
CANDo attitude has an enormous impact on everyone’s ability to solve problems whether it’s you or your child.
When children are surrounded by positive talk, attitudes, approaches and get-up and go-go energy they’ll develop it.
Personally, I think the word “problem” should be re-labeled. It’s mere name reeks of negativity. I like to think of my “problems” as being situations or challenges that I can work towards resolving.
By modelling positive behaviour, emotions and approaches towards something society teaches us is a “negative” you’ll be teaching your children to take a positive approach towards resolving whatever crops up in their lives.
Teach them to Break It Down
Often, breaking a challenge down into smaller steps, makes the whole thing much less daunting. When you’re “solving” your child’s initial challenges, or helping/guiding them to resolve their part of it, be sure to show them your thought processes, write down/or draw options to help them learn how to analyse what’s going on.
Children with positive, practical problem solving life skills become adults with positive, practical problem solving skills. Armed with CANDo attitude and the ability to shepherd their Inner Imps emotions in useful directions, you’ll be helping them get ready to take on the world.
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