Sunday, September 5, 2010

Problem Solving

I used to think this 'problem solving' was so lame and that parents who let their kids discipline themselves were giving up their authority. My, how I've changed my tune. It's called independent thinking D -- learning to solve your own problems rather than relying on someone else to tell you what to do. Yes, I am almost 40 and still haven't completely mastered it myself!

Here's how How To Talk So Kids will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk suggests going about it:

1. Talk about the child's feelings and needs
2. Talk about your feelings and needs
3. Brainstorm together to find a mutually agreeable solution
4. Write down all the ideas, without evaluating
5. Decide which suggestions you like, don't like and which you plan to follow through on.

We're not so formal in our approach at home. Writing things down? Evaluating them? Of course, I do this at work all the time -- but not because I am truly evaluating alternatives, but because I am trying to justify my gut-instinct decision :-) So will this problem solving approach work at home if I am not really sincere? My kids will see through that. Maybe it's worth a shot, especially since we're approaching the school-age years.

One thing that's helping all of us at home is ending the Blame Game. I didn't realize how much we did it until I stopped to listen -- "you never ...". Now when one of us starts in that way, we just ask each other to tell us what they feel without blaming someone else and emphasize that we're trying to focus on a solution for the future rather than blaming anyone. That doesn't mean that you're not allowed to express your disappointment towards someone else, it's just more likely to be constructive if phrased as a good 'ol "I statement". "You never ..." or "Why do you ..." always invoke defensiveness.

I think I'm ready to tackle problem solving. Right now we tell the kids to work out their own problems, but I don't think they really know what it means, so they go back to hitting each other until they're both crying. Problem solving might be the way to go.


  1. You're not allowed to say "almost 40" even if it's true *denial denial denial*

    I think I'll get that book, you've mentioned it a couple of times and it seems really interesting.

    Speaking of parenting books, we have a book on shy kids that has really helped us with Holden's shyness. He's still shy in new situations (totally normally), but he relaxes much quicker now that John and I have some tools to help him through it.

    I don't know what made me think of that, it's totally random and unrelated :)

  2. I'm officiall closer to 40 than 35 (and in less than a week, you'll be the same!). But you're right -- denial. Let me know the name of the book you found helpful, or any book you like for that matter. I'm not reading anything now and watching too much bloody TV.