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  • Dr. Marc Komori Stager

Who Owns the Problem?

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

Answering this question can help you relax.

The Hard: Your child is in trouble, and it is hard to let him figure it out on his own.

The Easy: You don't have to go into emergency-problem-solving mode. You can watch your child grow right before your eyes.

What to do: First off, you must decide if this is your problem or not. Does it bother you directly (for example: loud music or being woken up by a child coming home late)? If so, this blog entry is not the practical hint for this situation. If the problem only affects you indirectly (for example: poor grades, lousy friends, ruined clothing, lost teddy bear), then it is your child's direct problem.

Second, empathize. Let your child know you care, that you get how upsetting this is to them.

Third, pass the problem back to your child. "I'm curious to see how you work this out," "Let's agree that if I rip my jeans, I won't ask you to replace them," "I wonder what you will do next time she asks to borrow your phone?”

Imply in these messages that you believe your child can take care of their own consequences. You are saying, "You can handle this, sweetie." If your child needs a bit of support, a bit of scaffolding, you can ask questions about how they might deal with a concern, and you can invite your child to consult with you. By doing this, you will help your child discover for themselves that they can solve problems. However, be sure not to give firm answers, take over, solve, or give advice. Otherwise, your message will be, "You can't handle this."

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