Giving children and teenagers the tools to solve problems is vital if we want self aware and resilient kids. (Let’s face it, plenty of us adults need these tools too!)

According to DBT*, there are 4 ways to react to a problem:

1. Solve the problem: this could involve getting other people on board to help or be done on one’s own. Maybe you can change/avoid or leave the situation.
2. Feel better about the problem: change the way you are viewing the situation. Regulate your emotions, so the problem itself doesn’t change, but your reaction to it does. (As @gabbybernstein says, “obstacles are detours in the right direction”)
3. Tolerate the problem: if you can’t manage either of the first two, then maybe you can accept and tolerate the situation. This is called radical acceptance-it doesn’t mean you approve of the situation, you just stop fighting reality.
4. Stay miserable: don’t make any changes and possibly feel worse (!)

This might seem obvious but have you actually ever stopped to think about how you react to problems and the choices you have in those moments when problems arise? Have you ever talked through a problem with your teen or older child and used this kind of terminology?

I think by knowing that there are 4 ways to approach a problem you will already start to feel better about it and more in control (of your reactions).

Try thinking about the four options the next time you’re faced with a problem and let me know how it goes!

*Based on Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) which is an evidence-based psychotherapy