One of the most heartbreaking parts of parenting is seeing our kids struggle and knowing we can’t “fix” it. We can counsel. We can support. We can be a shoulder. But we can’t FIX it. At least, we “shouldn’t” fix it because everything we fix for our kids they will be unable to fix for themselves.
Moving with school-age kids causes them to struggle. There’s just no way around it. Change and transition are hard on everyone and our natural instinct is make it all go away. We must remember this: “If we’re unwilling to see our children fail at a task, then we’re unwilling for our children to learn” is Number 9 on the All-Pro Dad list about teaching your kids problem solving skills. (click here for the full article)
Moving is not only a time of great struggle, it is a time of great opportunity for teaching problem solving skills. The reality is the family is moving. That is not going to change or “fix” itself. So, how can our kids identify what the problem is and take the steps to solve it (with some assistance, of course.)
A first step is to help your children understand the emotions they are feeling. They could be frustrated about leaving a friend, school or team/activity. They might be excited about the move but feeling guilty because their friends are so sad to see them go. They could be afraid – afraid that a prized possession with get lost during the move, afraid they won’t find any friends or afraid of bullies. The challenges associated with each emotion might require different problem-solving strategies.
Once those emotions have been identified, find out what they’re willing and able to do. Assess any deficits as a deficit of skill or a deficit of will. If the deficit is skill, identify small steps they can take to solve their problem. These can take the form of helping them find the words to talk with their friends about their excitement while empathizing with their friends’ feelings of sadness; identify extracurricular opportunities in their new location so they can continue their passion; or identify strategies to keep prized possessions close and safe during the move.
Give your children a chance to choose to “solve” or “not solve” at the moment. Some kids need a little more thinking time to get into the problem solving frame of mind. Just remember to circle back around and get them thinking about the steps they want to take to solve their own problems.
And because it is sooooo hard to step back and let our kids figure these hard things out, here’s a 14 Day Problem Solver Challenge for Parents from imom.com.
No parent should move without getting some help with their own problem solving skills. Visit the Moving Families Initiative® website at www.movingfamiliesinitiative.com to find out more.