When your child/teen has a problem they want to solve, embrace the supporter parenting role so you can help them develop their thinking in their prefrontal cortex.
Here is an example of a parent following the first 3 steps of the 5 Step Problem Solving Process.
Step 1: Stop blocking communication
Step 2: Listen Openly
Step 3: Discuss ideas together
Do you know how to support or do you have a tendency to take control and have kids that reject your help? Look at the end of the article for more help with this common parenting problem.
|Step 1: Stop blocking communicationChild: Comes home from school looking unhappy yet says nothing.
Adult: Doesn’t ask questions. Looks at child’s body language for cues of what the child might be feeling. Remembers to first connect with feelings not logic. Refrains from interrogating or psychologizing to “get to the bottom of it.” Stays in a support mode.
|Step 2: Listen openly with empathetic responsesAdult: You seem upset.
Child: I’m fine.
Adult: Pause and stay close. I don’t know but it looks like something might have happened at school today.
Child: Sighs. I had an argument with Max today.
Adult: Refrain from interrogating. This sounds like the child’s problem not yours. Make space for feelings to emerge.
It looks like you are feeling bad about what happened.
Child: I was mad and said some things I wish I hadn’t.
Adult: I can see why you are so upset.
Child: I don’t know what to do. I’m afraid Max won’t speak to me again. (starts crying softly)
Parent Put you arm around your child if allowed. Stay quiet and listening for a while. Control the impulse to make it better because of your possible discomfort with your child’s suffering.
That would be really sad for you.
Child: After crying lets up. I need to figure out what to do. I want to stay friends.
|Step 3: Discuss ideas togetherParent: It sounds like maybe you’re ready to reach out to Max.
Child: I could call but what if Max doesn’t answer. Then what?
Parent: It’s scary to think he might ignore you. Pause What if he does answer?
Child: I would tell him I’m sorry and want to still be friends. Maybe he’ll listen.
Parent: That would feel great. What else could you try?
Child: I could try Facebook or email.
Parent: Yes you could. How do you think it would go using the internet to apologize?
Child: It seems a lot easier. I’d put in the subject that I’m sorry. That way Max will see I’m sorry and talk to me.
Parent: That idea seems to be less scary to you. So you’re saying you would still call him to talk with him after the email?
Parent: Any other ideas or will you try one of these?
Child: I’m going to first send an email then see how he responds.
Parent: Do you want to talk about what to say in the email or figure it out on your own?
Child: I’ll try first and ask for help if I get stuck.
Parent: I’m here if you need me. I know you can work it out.
Child: Thanks for listening.
To learn how to decide what parenting role to embrace, read my article