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2 min read

Some days my heart feels like it's going to explode with love for my children. Even when they drive me crazy, the second they're in bed, I'm looking at videos and photos of them.

I want nothing more than to protect them, fix everything, and give them a perfect, beautiful life.

But I also know, deep down, this would be doing them a true disservice.

Eventually a day will come when I'm not there and a decision needs to be made, a problem needs to be solved, or sunglasses need to be found :)

I want to empower them and give them the skills they need to flourish in the world.

It's hard though.

I have to fight my mom brain every day to give them the space to problem-solve, only stepping in only when asked or necessary.

One way that I've learned help my children problem-solve is by offering suggestions in question form.

So rather than jumping in and trying to fix everything, I ask questions to help them think through the problem and come to a solution on their own.

This fantastic idea came from book Montessori for Every Family, where Tim Seldin and Lorna McGrath outline how to do this in 4 steps:

1. Listen WITHOUT offering solutions.

Stop what you're doing, get down on their level, and connect. Making them feel heard.

This builds trust and connection. It tells your child that you feel what they're saying is important.

2. Acknowledge their feelings.

Problems that might seem small to us, like a scraped knee, can feel very big to a young child. Acknowledge that you understand how frustrated/hurt/angry/sad they feel. You can even say something like, "Ouch! That looks like it hurt" or "I can see why you're frustrated".

3. Thank them for coming to you.

This is not from the book Montessori for Every Family but a tip I learned from psychologist Dr. Becky Kennedy and is more appropriate for older children.

When children come to you with a problem, it can help to reinforce that you are a trusted confidant. You can say something like, "Thank you for trusting me with this".

This works with school age children as they begin to navigate more complicated social situations. It builds trust in the younger years with the goal that your child continues to trust you as they get older.

4. If they ask for advice, offer suggestions in question form.

Rather than jumping in with advice, start by offering thoughtful questions that will help your child reach the answer on their own. For example, I wonder what would happen if you did X?

This can be used in even simple situations, like a disagreement about weather-appropriate clothing. Rather than "You can't wear shorts because it's too cold", try "Why don't you put the shorts on and stand outside to see how that feels?"

Why This Approach Works

When children make their own decisions, it builds their problem-solving skills and helps to make them feel more confident.

Getting it wrong is ok too. Making their own mistakes is just a different way to learn.

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