Luckily, it’s easy to reverse this pattern. Here’s a problem-solving model, compliments of Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom, that you can use whenever your first grader gets stuck:
- Instead of directing your child to do something, sit her down and ask her to brainstorm different solutions. This encourages her to be creative and flexible in her thinking. For example, if your son and daughter are fighting over who gets to pick what TV show to watch, have them come up with as many TV-sharing ideas as they can. Write them all down, no matter how silly or outlandish they seem. (Sometimes the silly ideas are the ones that eventually inspire the best solutions down the road!)
- Talk over all the ideas, and choose two that seem fair to all parties.
- Put each idea on its own piece of paper and evaluate the pros and cons of each.
- After looking at all sides of the issue, ask each child his/her opinion on which option is best – and why. If your children don’t agree – it’s bound to happen! – don’t panic. Instead, ask nuanced questions to get them thinking. This will help them make a decision that everyone can be satisfied with.