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Let’s become Super Heroes

14 January 2019

And when the Evil Hero gets back ... Dadda daddaaaaa ... The Super Hero appears with his super stellar net and says, "Enough is enough! Prepare to pay back for what you have done. I will do anything to protect my city. "
How many times we sit back and wonder, if our children will be able to judge what is right and wrong, when to choose something and when not and how we will show them ways to be able to resolve their daily problems without the need of an adult's intervention. We commonly wonder how to reinforce those appropriate elements in the personality of our children that will make them act like Super Heroes with pretty good solutions at the time they will need them.

By teaching our children how to approach and solve their own problems early in life, we stimulate their self-esteem and at the same time built those essential social skills they will need in order to engage in and maintain interpersonal and friendly relationships.

There are three core things to keep in mind when trying to encourage your child to enhance their problem-solving skills:
1. You are and always will be your child’s primary Super Hero: Your child imitates and grows based on what you are displaying in your everyday life. For this reason, you should be modeling your own problem-solving skills in the problems you have to face every day. Discuss as openly as possible about what the problem is, which are your thoughts and your decision on how to resolve it. Show that even when we have a wrong decision or a mistake you should never give up, but rather try out a different solution.
2. Make Your Kids Super Hero Assistants: Ask your child’s help to brainstorm in different solutions for hour household / family problems. Listen to their opinion and try them out when possible. Doing so, will make children feel that their opinion counts and their voice heard, so they are capable and worthy of making decisions.
3. Do not be a telltale: As hard as it can be to have to be patient while our children think and try to find a solution to something that is solved by us in seconds, do not be tempted to give the answer. Let them experiment, get into trouble, even make mistakes, as the experiences are the ones that build their knowledge.
Depending on the age of the children, the things that we need to focus on and expect from them are different.
Up to the age of five:
In order for your children to have the problem-solving skills needed to find solutions on their own, it is important to be able to manage their feelings. First of all, it is important, even from the first and second year of their lives to speak openly to your children about their feelings and the feelings of the people around them. Naming and showing full acceptance to all the feelings is really important. There is no “bad” feeling. All feelings, even those that are negative and difficult, are there to help us learn something. The important thing is to focus on how to react and manage every emotion. Till the age of five, the role of adults in children’s lives is more active, but under no circumstances should it be authoritarian and intrusive, since this will reduce children's self-confidence.
When problems arise, it is the adults’ role to begin to bury the seeds of problem – solving skills following the steps above:
Naming and validating emotions: Help your children process the way that the resulting problem makes them feel.
Processing emotions: Help your children learn to calm down, either by breathing, leaving far from the stimuli, or by making beautiful thoughts so that they will be able to think and judge will logic.
Problem – solving: Think with your children about all the different possible solutions, letting them do the speaking while you get the listener’s position. Play (free play, puzzles, blocks, role plays) and the use of fairy tales (connect the heroes' problems and deeds to those of your children or use the dialectical narrative by asking the child to think about how would he/she continue the fairy tale) are two very constructive ways to help children understand different problems, while giving them the space and time needed to experiment freely with possible solutions. Eventually, over time, children will begin to use everything they have thought and tested in the symbolic world of play and tales in their real interpersonal relationships in order to resolve their everyday problems.
The phrases we often use to empower children to solve a problem for themselves are: "So you are telling me that … made you feel ...", "There must be some way to fix it ...", "You can definitely think about something to do about ... "," You are very good in finding new ideas, let’s give a minute and think about what you want to do about it!".

Children between five and seven years of age:
When our children have reached the age of seven or are even older, we can teach them an easy problem-solving process that they can use as a pathway when they come across a problem. The most common and easy to understand process is:
1. What am I feeling? Help your children understand that if they understand early enough how the situation makes them feel it is going to be easier to manage the emotions and the entire situation
2. What is the problem? Help your children learn to focus on the problem and how it affects them, not to blame or complain about others
3. What are the possible solutions? Encourage your children to think as many solutions as possible (ideally over two) without judging whether they are good or functional
4. What would happen if (what are positive and negative)? Help your children learn how to evaluate their problem – solving ideas they come up with by considering both how they are going to feel as well as how other will be affected by their choice
5. Which one should I try? Boost your children to try one of the solutions they thought. Encourage them to keep trying different ideas until the problem is solved without frustration or resignation
Problem solving is not about memorizing events, like names of colors or shapes or the letters of the alphabet. Instead, it is the use of two very important skills - the ability to think reasonably and the ability to think creatively when thinking and applying different ideas for problem solving. For children, to be able to use those problem – solving skills is vital. Children grow up with greater faith in their judgment and their abilities in making decisions, in the distinction good from evil. To be able to understand the world around them and what could be more important!
Let's give our Super Heroes yet another strength!
Marilou Kountria
Psychologist – Play Therapist

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