I know I want my children to be independent, creative thinkers, and good problem solvers. In working with parents daily, I know this is your goal too. But how do we get there? How can we turn our daily interactions into opportunities for building these skills that they will need in their adolescence, their young adulthood, and in life?
We all love our children and want to give them a life that is comfortable and happy. But is our job really to create that much comfort? Shouldn’t we give our children opportunities to fail and try again while they are still under our roof?
Ask Questions; Answer a Question With a Question
When our children are younger, we give them much direction and tell them how to do things. As they get older, our job is to direct them, but not tell them how to do it. This is challenging, because I know I think, “This will be hard for him,” “It will take less time if I just do it for her,” or “I just don’t have time for the arguing or yelling.” But then where are the opportunities for our children to practice the skills they need?
Instead of saying, “Start your homework at 3:30 p.m.,” ask, “When will you start your homework?”
Instead of saying, “Start with your math homework; it’s the easiest,” ask, “Which homework assignment do you want to tackle first? Easiest or hardest?”
Instead of answering the question, “How do I start this paper?” ask, “What’s your thesis or theme?”
Instead of giving directives, ask questions. For teenagers, it gives them the perception of being in control, which is exactly what they want. Even though you are guiding the thought process to reach the conclusions, their perception is that they figured it out, which is great too!
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