Problem-solving skills will help your child much more than lecturing or sermonizing. In fact, parenting sermonettes rarely communicate lasting truths and will not help your children learn how to solve their own problems.
Helping them solve their own problems starts with you asking your kids questions that will help them think through the problem and then listening, asking some more, and listening some more. Basically, this is what a life coach does–it’s sometimes what I do as a parenting coach.
Listening is key for a couple of reasons. Often, when your kids verbalize things and are forced to think out loud, they can understand the issue better and may even come up with their own solutions. Listening is also important because your kids are much more inclined to listen to you after they have been listened to.
In order to get your kids to talk so you CAN listen to them, you must ask the right questions. Often, a child’s initial response, decision or problem may not actually be the real feeling, thought, attitude or problem that they are facing. Your questions can help sort it all out.
When you ask:
- Take time to ask the questions 2-3 times.
- Listen to your child’s response.
- Don’t interrupt.
- Paraphrase back what your child is saying.
- Reflect back their feelings to be certain you understand.
What to ask:
Ask your child:
What do you want for you?
What are you feeling?
What are you doing about it?
After going through these questions once, ask your child to answer them a couple more times, with a different set of answers each time.
Continue to help your child explore positive possibilities by having them ask themselves these questions:
What do I think is the right thing for me to do? (It may not be the same as what they want, asked above.)
What do I feel about doing that right thing?
What am I going to do then?
This questioning, this dialogue, takes time and emotional energy, but the seed you sow in listening, and counseling a child to solve their own problems will bear a harvest of maturity and wise decision-making in the future.
As you ask and listen, there will be an opportunity to share your perspective and wisdom. The problem is that many parents give all the answers to their kids before they give them a chance to answer them on their own. That parenting strategy enables children but does not empower them. Your job as a parent is not to help them to cope, but to help them learn to solve.
Are you looking for some answers to parenting problems? Please let me help. Schedule a free call here.