Part of teaching our children how to problem solve for themselves brings lots of laughs, along with maybe a little frustration. We want them to make the right decisions immediately ... and we discover this usually isn't what happens.
As parents we need to have a process of confrontation that builds trust, that builds a safe place, that empowers them. A way of handling problems that communicate 'We believe in you, we trust you, and we think you can figure it out.' When we don't have a process we usually resort back to control. ex: "I have to make you do it and if you don't then I have to introduce pain and suffering to make you sorry that you didn't do what you were supposed to do."
Putting a process in place for when Lydia comes home from 2nd grade with not the best grades, and if things don't change she will be repeating the grade, can save us as parents a lot of frustration. Ex: We see Lydia's report card and the not so good grades. We want to scream and tell her how she should be doing her homework, she is smarter, and maybe we even punish her for not getting good grades. Another option would be to help her see the consequences of her actions - with a spirit of genteelness that builds the relationship with your child in a positive way. So instead of yelling and getting angry, we begin to ask questions to stimulate her thinking. Lydia, why are your grades low? Do you know what happens if you don't get better grades? [explaining in love that she will have to repeat the same grade while her friends move ahead] Is there a way mom and dad can help you do better? Asking if she wants to be the oldest child in the class if she does have to repeat the grade. Letting her see that not only is she smarter than the effort she is putting forth, but helping her to realize the consequences of her actions [low grades].
Sample questions to have in your tool kit:
"I'm wondering if....?"
"What are you going to do?" [little sammy left his lunch at home, what will he do?]
"How is this working for you?"
"Do you want any help with this?"
" .... did it?"
The goal of parenting isn't to control them until we can turn them loose. It's to teach, love, build, and pour ourselves into. When we don't allow our kids to problem solve, and aid them in growing up mentally and physically we haven't done our job. But more importantly - to love our kids on pupose. To be parents that beam with love and gentleness in the face of the greatest challenges with our kids. Not to explode with anger, but to be controlled and to love them fully.