When problems arise with children, blame is sometimes the first reaction parents have. However, a more effective strategy is focusing on solving the problem and working to prevent it in the future. Even in tense or challenging moments, there are a few things that parents can do to proactively help their child overcome the difficulty and reduce the chances that it will happen again.

The first step with this strategy is to be goal oriented and focus on the possible solutions for the problem. Parents need to be careful not to react and place blame on the child. This can actually sometimes just make the situation worse, and make it less likely that a positive solution can be reached. Parents should take a few minutes, or even more if warranted, to calm themselves and make sure they are in a teaching mode instead of a blaming mode.

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The most effective scenarios are ones where the parents encourage their children to think of solutions for the problem. The opportunity for the child to lead this effort teaches him or her about cause and effect, problem solving, and clear communication. Parents can facilitate the learning process by discussing the problem with the child to make sure that everyone understands the dynamics of it the same way. For parents with younger children they can ask them how they think a better ending to the situation would have looked or sounded. Together parents and children can brainstorm lists of possible solutions, with the children leading the way as much as possible.

Once some options for solutions have been discussed, the child can choose the one he or she thinks will solve the problem best. In some situations the solution could be tried for a week or so, then the parents and children can reevaluate whether or not the solution is working. If it is not, then another one from the brainstorm list can be chosen and tried.

An example of how this might work is when a child forgets to put his bike away, and then Dad runs into it in the driveway with the car. Together father and son sit down and list ways this problem can be avoided. The son chooses to hang a picture of himself riding the bike on the back door to remind him to always put it away before coming into the house. He also agrees with Dad that if he forgets to do this, he will lose his bike privilege for a week. At the end of the week the father and son talk about how sometimes the son forgot to put the bike away, but as soon as he saw the picture he ran back and parked it safely. This taught the son responsibility for his possession, as well as the importance of consequences.

Focusing on blaming children when problems arise does not help solve the problems or help to make sure they won’t be repeated in the future. Proactively searching out ways to solve the problem will get better, long-lasting results. Children should also be given the opportunity to lead the process of finding solutions. When this strategy is used, not only will difficult challenges improve, but the relationships between parents and their children will improve as well.

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