Thoughtful parenting youth

Thoughtful parenting youth |

Thoughtful Parenting: Allow children to solve their own problems


As parents, we all want what is best for our children. Whether it is the best education, best friends, best soccer gear, best outfit, we want them to feel good, to feel like they are special. Yet, we are not allowing them to ever feel bad. We are quick to intervene if they have a teacher they do not like or problems with friends at school, always ensuring that they feel good.

Thoughtful Parenting: Youth Services

This weekly column about parenting issues is written by area youth-serving professionals. It publishes on Mondays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

Consequently, as the fix-it parent, we send the message that they cannot handle the challenges in front of them. They never get to know what it feels like to succeed. They have never had to experience the dark depths of hardship and to know the euphoric feeling of overcoming and solving their own problems.

So what are we to do? We let them fail, and hopefully, we let them fail as much as they possibly can before they reach 18. So, by the time they are out of your house, they know what it feels like to have to overcome failures. This is one of the hardest concepts for most parents to grasp, but one of the most important recipes for success.

For example, if your child comes home from school discouraged about how his or her friend was treating them, we offer this suggestion: Always provide a sympathetic response to their situation to let them know you care: “I’m sorry Susie was mean, that must feel awful!”

Next, ask them what they are going to do about it. This gives them ownership of the problem, as it is their problem, not yours. Then, we ask them if they would like help solving the situation. This sets up your position as a consultant parent and eliminates telling them what to do, specifically.

We usually offer three or four suggestions about what might help the situation and encourage parents to offer the worst possible suggestion first: “Maybe you should be just as mean to Susie and she was to you!” Kids usually know this is a bad decision and suggesting it allows them to think through the consequence.

Then, your other two or three suggestions should be ones they might choose. Don’t be surprised if they are extremely frustrated and don’t want to hear any suggestions. This is OK, too. Just remember to continually repeat the phrase, “I’m sorry you’re having to go through that. Let me know if there is anything I can do.”

After they have made their decision, which may not be the one you chose, kindly tell them, “Good luck with that.” (This usually makes parents cringe.) Understand it may take several days or even weeks for a child to work out his or her problems, just as it does for many adults.

Recognize that, when your child is truly involved in a dangerous situation, you have to intervene. Yet, most situations will be common problems, and by taking a consulting parent role, you will help them gain more self-confidence and life skills by allowing them to solve their own problems.

Beth Wendler and Heather Martyn have stated the Parent2 Partner training series, which offers the “Parenting the Love and Logic Way” workshop. On Jan. 17, their next five week series will be offered from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. Thursdays. The workshop is for parents of children birth to age 6. For more information, email


Scott Wedel 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"Always provide a sympathetic response to their situation to let them know you care: “I’m sorry Susie was mean, that must feel awful!” "

And thus raise your own mini Trumpster where everything is about them. I think the better first question is to think about whether the other kids were being mean or not doing what you wanted. Friends deciding to play Monopoly when you want to play Clue are not being mean. But breaking the rules so that only you don't get $200 for passing Go is being mean.

Personally, I think the best advice is to help identify what is daily drama vs an important issue. The daily drama stuff should be for kids to handle themselves. Sometimes important issues need explanation of the ethical situation and that different people have put you into a conflicted situation in which you have have a responsibility to try to cause the least harm or hurt feelings.


Dan Kuechenmeister 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"Thus raise your own mini Trumpster where every thing is about them". Will be fun to compare the number of times Trump uses the word I vs. the number of times The current POTUS used the term I in his speeches eh Scott.


Scott Wedel 3 months, 2 weeks ago

I think Trump's tweets show he is more self absorbed than most parents wish for their children.

I don't know if Obama using "I" more often than Trump, but his speeches are far less about himself than about people working together.

Nor was I suggesting that Trump will be awful as President. A whole lot of relatively successful Presidents were not "reasonably well adjusted".


Dan Kuechenmeister 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Scott, I think most politicians are more self absorbed then most parents wish for their children. If you ask parents what their hopes are for their children's future I am thinking 'politician' is not near the the top of their list.

Here is a short paragraph regards Obama referencing himself in a few of his speeches. The 119 times mentioned was in his campaign speech for HRC this year.

As Grabien chronicled, those 119 self-references surpass the 76 times he referenced himself in his 33-minute gun control speech on Jan 5, 2016, the 28 times he brought himself up in a 12-minute speech following a mass shooting Oct 1, 2015, and just barely edges the incredible 118 times he talked about ol' Barry in a 33-minute speech in India on Jan. 27, 2015.


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