Once I heard a radio program about why kids are losing the ability to be creative thinkers. This is not rocket science. We could all list 10+ things that have changed since we were young, things that have made our children’s lives easier and less challenging. And therein lies the rub!
When children, especially those with helicopter parents, do not have to deal with occasional problems as they go about their daily tasks of life, then they don’t learn how to solve them. For example, let’s say Susie and her brother Fred are squabbling over a toy, and Mom swoops in and says, “Fred, let Susie play with the toy for 15 minutes and then it will be your turn.” Since Mom solved the problem, the children have lost the opportunity to work it out themselves. Mom may have gotten some peace and quiet so she can focus on making dinner, but the kids have achieved nothing. They’ve learned to let Mom be the decision-maker.
Does this sound like you? As parents, we want our children to behave well, get along with others, avoid meltdowns, and be happy and well adjusted. But when we solve problems for our kids, we are not teaching them to take care of themselves, to develop problem-solving skills, to learn to work together.
Collaborating is an important part of being able to solve problems and think creatively, and these skills are becoming more essential in today’s modern world. As parents, we should let our kids have ownership of their problems and encourage them to come up with ways to solve them. So instead of telling Susie and Fred what to do, Mom should ask them to brainstorm solutions to the problem. This way kids learn their opinions matter, and they begin to realize that arguing never solves anything.
Wouldn’t it be nice if our world leaders would learn to collaborate and work together instead of squabbling all the time?
Our role as parents is so important. Spending quality time with our kids is an essential part of their development. So the next time your text signal goes off in the middle of a conversation or activity with your son or daughter, ignore it. Helping your child grow, achieve, succeed, and become a happy, healthy human being is your most important task, not checking text messages.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have a life, too. Just think of ways you and your child can enjoy each other’s company while accomplishing tasks or engaging in an enriching activity. Cook, color, hike, garden, attend an arts performance, ride a bike, give each other back rubs, make up a poem, do a puzzle, sing a silly song, look at the stars. There are so many ways to have fun and learn at the same time.
And when your child runs into a problem or a challenge or becomes frustrated when things don’t go her way, first let her calm down and then brainstorm ways to make things better. Trust me, your child will thank you one day for letting her figure things out on her own.
Have a mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful spring!
~ Love, Peggy