Are You a Bad Mom When You Allow Your Kids to Struggle?

child_thinking.141200543Isn’t our goal as parents to help develop problem solving skills in our children? I think as busy moms, we often forget and take the easy road and solve problems for our kids. By repeating this habit of giving answers to our children instead of allowing them the opportunity to figure something out on their own we are really creating MORE dependent children rather than creating self-reliant adults. Another way to think about this reminds me of what ScreamFree Parenting author Hal Runkel says, “Everywhere you see reference to parents raising kids…..but really, aren’t we in the process of raising adults – not kids?” I tend to keep that little tid-bit of reference tucked into my mom tool belt to help remind me of the situations that I want my kids to work through and solve on their own. Allowing your children to struggle and solve problems is a true gift, you cannot develop problem solving skills by reading about them, it is all in the experience.

In the rush of everyday living we are hurried, impatient and quick to solve problems for our kids because that is the easiest thing to do. I have found myself allowing my children to solve as many problems on their own will in fact be the easiest thing in the END! I want my kids to work towards being self-reliant and independent; to live a life where they don’t need me constantly telling them what to do or how to do it.

Lately, I have been trying to throw questions back at my kids to get them more involved in the solving. If one of my kids comes up to me and asks me a question, I will throw it back into their hands. For example, my son decides he has a lot of tasks that need completed before he is allowed to do another activity. He asks, “How will I get all this done before I leave for ____________?” Instead of me jumping in and arranging his time for him, I instead say, “Well, how do you think you will arrange your tasks to get them done in time?” Typically this allows him a space to open a conversation to solve his problem rather than me just jumping in with my idea. I have found that when kids are actively involved in solving rather than just being told, they remember so much better.

This works so well in most any situation, even when I am posed with a question about something I know little about, like science. I get a lot of curious questions, some I know the answer to some I do not. But I nearly always throw the question back at them and it engages them in conversation rather than getting the answer and ending the conversation. Often times we end up doing the work together to find out answers to some of those questions that I truly don’t know the answer to!

I encourage you to try to find opportunities today to throw those questions back into the hands of the ones we are trying so hard to help grow into competent adults. If you continue to answer questions and solve problems for your kids, what is it that you are really teaching them?

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Tags: discipline, independence, moms, self-directed

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