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Help your child to be more resourceful

Tips on how to get your child to more often solve problems.

By Marty Nemko

Published: Wed 31 Mar 2021, 11:40 PM

“Mom, I can’t do this!”

How do you get your child to more often solve problems? Some or all of the following should help.

Of course, depending on your child’s age and ability, you may need to do some of the following things rather than insist your child do them, but if you can muster the patience, err on the side of letting your child try. That increases self-reliance and the likelihood of learning from mistakes.

1. When your child is stuck, say something like, “So, this is hard but you’re smart. Take another moment to think: What could you do to solve this, even if it’s just a baby step toward solving it?”

2. If your child is still stuck, ask, “Should you try Google? And if so, what’s the best search term?” Look at the first few search results. Often those results’ thumbnails suggest a link that’s on-target. Or perhaps you’ll see a better search term.

3. Still stuck? “Should we look on Amazon or the library’s online catalog to see if it’s worth getting a book?”

4. Still stuck? Ask your child, “Is there anyone you think you should ask for help?”

5. “What should you ask?”

6. “Should you reach out by phone, email, text, or in-person?”

7. If your child is reluctant to reach out, say something like, “Most people like to help. Plus, it speaks well of you that you tried to do it on your own but recognize when you need help. We can do a lot on our own but not everything.”

The parent’s philosophy

Especially as their child gets older, some parents believe in sink-or-swim, But I’ve too often seen that result in drowning. Even when the child is an adult, wise parents stay moderately involved while nudging their child toward self-reliance.

Conversely, some parents get too involved for fear the student’s grade will be lower and perhaps that their child’s failure to keep up with the Joneses will reflect poorly on themselves. Easier said than done, but the wise parent stays only moderately involved both for the child’s benefit and their own. You deserve a life too.

Success in today’s and especially tomorrow’s world isn’t getting easier. Among the more important things a parent can do to prepare their child for success is helping them get better at solving problems. — Project Syndicate

Marty Nemko is a career and personal coach based in California, US.

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