Are you one of those parents who “hovers” over your child every time they complain or present a problem? When they come home from school, do you want to jump in and fix their problems? Call up a kid’s parents who was mean to them? Or call up the teacher who “lost” your child’s homework and made them do it again?
Children need to learn how to solve problems. Solving problems helps them feel competent and learn self-efficacy—one of the basic personal skills needed to be successful in life. Suppose your child comes home from school and says: “Mom/Dad, my teacher hates me.” Your first response should be to say, “I hear you’re really angry.” Don’t be afraid to use a feeling word. This shows that you empathize with them. Then ask them “What was it like in the classroom? What were the other kids doing when you felt that? What were you doing when you felt she disliked you?” Get your child to think about what happened. Then ask them: “What do you think will happen tomorrow? Will you act differently?” Provide them the opportunity to come up with the solution. If you immediately call the teacher—or the principal—your child will probably feel that he/she is disempowered. It will encourage them to come running whenever things go wrong. There will always be events in a child’s life when they truly need help in a situation. But if you jump in as a “hovering solution-provider”, you’re doing your child a disservice.