Helping or Hindering? The trouble with solving all our kids problems
I’ve started wondering…is helping my kids actually helping my kids? Or am I just teaching them how to NEED others to solve their problems for them?
Moms I think we’ve been over helping our kids, and it’s hindering them. I know we want to run to their aid, we want to show them we’ll always be there for them, that they can trust us & lean on us for anything. But I’m starting to see that letting them figure things out for themselves might be what they really need in order to develop important life skills.
I’ve been noticing my kids have become dependent on Mom to solve all their problems, even the not so critical ones. While of course, I want to help them navigate difficult situations, I don’t think “I can’t find it” (while sitting on the bed, not looking for anything) qualifies as something that I have to jump up and figure out for them.
I know our intentions are good, we want to make sure our kids know they can always count on us. But Mom’s, I think it’s time to let go a bit and teach our kids to problem solve on their own, to use the smarts God gave them. Below are a 2 major hindrances I’ve noticed starting to happen.
Hindrance: Not allowing them to practice problem solving & gain confidence
When problem solving isn’t practiced, it isn’t learned. Simple right? We won’t always be there to solve their problems. So when they stumble and fall, they may not know how to get back up and try again.
They need to learn how to maneuver, get around the walls they’ll hit, find other solutions until they’ve solved their problem. If we keep running to them for all things great & small, they’ll become so used to it that they won’t even try to figure things out for themselves and become defeated. They won’t know where to start, & they’ll give up before they even begin. While we still have our arms somewhat around them, we should allow them to practice falling so they can start learning how to assess a problem and correct it. This is going to build their problem solving confidence.
Hindrance: Not allowing them to exercise their brain
We’ve got to let our kids work through it. I know we get impatient, or we want to help, or often we just need to hurry and get past this issue so we can move on to other things. But as many times as we have the opportunity, we need to let them struggle through until they come up with a solution. There’s tremendous value in it, even if they don’t get it right away, thoughts develop, ideas flow, connections are made. They come to the realization that they have to try again a different way. These are skills they need to develop for life. Give them the freedom to fail, rethink, & retry.
Ways to encourage problem solving & creative process
OK, so now that we’ve established the need to allow our kids to problem solve and exercise their thinking skills, I’ve got a few ideas that will help them get started on the problem solving process.
- Ask them questions and let them figure out the answers on their own. This will allow them to not only be creative in finding answers (kind of like putting together the pieces of the puzzle), but will also help them to organize & process their thoughts in a safe setting. Remember, this has to be one-way, you have to let them do this on their own.
- Show them how to do something (ex. put away the dishes, tie their shoes) a few times, then give them the space and freedom to fail, and rethink until they find a way that works for them. This lesson will help them develop processes and since finding a solution isn’t tine sensitive, so they can take their time.
- Let little ones have chores (like organizing toys, or sorting laundry in two different color piles) that will help them create a process and follow through with the execution of it. Be sure to keep them accountable for an extended period of time so they can learn to be consistent. They’ll begin to learn what works and how to tweak the process if it’s not working for them.
- Chores are also a good way to teach older kids to how benefit from accurate and completed work. Right now, they’ll be earning privileges like TV time or an allowance, but later in life it’s a lesson they’ll draw on to benefit them in their careers. It shows them that seeing things through to the end can come come with rewards. Oh, and the quality of work determines the quality of the reward, double lesson!
Running to solve their every need is not actually helping them in every situation. As they (and I grow), I’m learning that my parenting also has to grow. I pray this is something you’re also realizing, and these tips will help you on your parenting journey. Moms, of course we love them dearly, and I’m beginning to realize that sometimes loving them looks different that I imagined it would. Sometimes it looks like stern corrections, punishments, or letting them struggle through lessons, but their future depends on these lessons of today.
Much love, tons of giggles & continued grace,