Too often, I see children struggling with feelings that are hard for adults to watch. When children are sad, mad, disappointed, or scared, it can be hard not to rescue them with our own suggestions and ideas to make it better fast. (My heart and brain can fight at times when I see my children miserable.)
In these moments, teaching problem solving builds children’s self esteem, frustration tolerance, and social skills. When we ask questions and help guide kids to their own choice in the matter, we teach our children their strength and abilities in making choices and ownership of their feelings and actions.
Here are 4 steps in coaching to solve problems:
1. Identify the Problem. An example, your child says kids are mean to him or her at school.
2. Possible Solutions. Your job is to ask him or her what are options to deal with this problem. It can be helpful for them or you to write down their ideas. The urge to share your own suggestions may be strong here, however, it is important for their self-esteem to come up with the solutions (even if a few of them seems a bit unrealistic i.e. I would ship them off to the moon).
3. Pros and Cons of Solutions. Now that a list has been compiled, help your child find the choice they want to use. For example, how would this choice work? How might it not work?
4. Create a plan. Lastly, ask your child to create a plan using their favorite choice from the list.
Please keep in mind the first couple of times the process of coaching may take a bit longer than you like. The goal is for them to be able to strengthening this brain muscle so it becomes second nature.