Guiding Kids to Own and Solve Their Problems

If children are going to survive and thrive in tomorrow’s complex world, they need practice solving as many problems as possible… today! The following process is designed to get kids thinking more about their problems than we do.
Step 1: Provide a strong and sincere dose of empathy.
Empathy allows the child to stay calm enough to solve the problem… and learn from it. Experiment with saying something like:
Oh no. This is a problem. I bet that’s really upsetting.
Step 2: Hand the problem back.
After you have proven that you care, ask:
What do you think you might do to solve this problem?
Don’t be shocked if the child mumbles, “I don’t know.”
Step 3: Ask permission to share what “some kids” have tried.
Avoid giving suggestions until you have asked:
Would you like to hear what some other kids have tried?
Step 4: Provide two or three alternatives for solving the problem.
Remember to avoid resistance by saying:
Some kids decide to _______________________________________.
How would that work for you?
Step 5: Allow the child to solve or not to solve the problem.
Resist the urge to tell the child which alternative to pick.
End the session by showing your faith in the child:
Good luck! Let me know how this turns out.
Learn more about this technique in the audio, Four Steps to Responsibility.
Dr. Charles Fay