Solving Problems Together – part 2
Once you’ve exhausted the ideas (remember to write every idea down even if you don’t like it), then you look at them together and you deselect the ones you don’t like. You might say, “I’m not willing to get 15 minutes less sleep. I can’t get up any earlier, so number 1 is no good.” Your child might say, “ I don’t want you to ring a bell when it’s time to go; that’s too much like school! Number 5 is a no go for me.” With that you draw a line through each deselected one. You will end up with perhaps only one that doesn’t have a line in it, and that’s your solution. Or there might be two that you both like. So now you have formulated a plan that you both are willing to try tomorrow morning. This is the first step. It doesn’t mean that your problem is solved because we don’t know if this plan will be followed yet! But we’re hopeful.
Now you say to your child, “Thank you so much for helping me. I feel so relieved. I am feeling like I’ll be able to get to work tomorrow morning on time, and I’m also thinking that I’ll be able to do it without yelling. I’m going to be calm because of the plan you helped me create. Thank you! I really appreciate your help and your great ideas.”
When it’s time for bed, you again reflect on your problem-solving experience, again show your appreciation for his time and efforts, and ask your child if there is anything that needs to be done in preparation for tomorrow morning’s on-time departure. He may say, “Oh, don’t worry, I already put my clothes out for tomorrow!” Or, “I already set my new alarm clock!” Or he might say, “Mom, have you put your shoes out by the front door?”
Probably tomorrow will work. You and your child will get out of the house in a timely manner. When you get in the car with your child, you heave a huge sigh and you say, “Oh, I feel so calm. I am rested and ready to take you to school and me to work. And I’m so grateful for your help. I just love working on problems with you! You had such great ideas!”
On the other hand, in case it didn’t work, you try not to yell and you say, “ I wonder what went wrong today that kept our plan from working?” Your child might say, “ I guess I forgot to put my shoes by the door last night and I didn’t have enough time to find them this morning.” You’d say, “ Well, how could you change that for tomorrow morning?” He says, “I’ll remind myself right after my bath to put my shoes by the door.” You say, “Great idea, I bet that will work. We’ll try again tomorrow. I think we can make it!”
The ideas that you need to plant in your head are that children want to be cooperative, that children want to be asked for their assistance in solving problems, that children never do well when they are yelled at, criticized, belittled, or punished, and that children become who they think you think they are! Just because you’re bigger than they are doesn’t mean you have all the answers. Enlist your child’s cooperation in a kind way, with a loving voice, a smile on your face, and compassion in you heart. Good things will come for all of you.
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Director/Elementary 1 Teacher