The importance of letting kids solve their own problems

Apr 28, 2014, 8:35 PM | Updated: 8:35 pm

Part of life is growing up from a child into an adult. It's a process in which we learn from our mistakes and work through our problems to get the skills necessary for the next part of our lives. Because of this, it is important that we, as parents, allow our children to solve their own problems rather than rescuing them at every setback.

Solving problems prepares children for life. If a child never learns how to walk because she is carried around all the time, she will never learn how to jump, climb stairs or ride a bike. Developmentally, it's important to take things one step at a time. But, if you never learn to take steps, it's near impossible to do more difficult things later.

The same goes for problems. If a child doesn't learn how to solve 2-year-old problems, they won't be adequately prepared to handle 3-year-old problems. Similarly, if they aren't able to find solutions to problems in their teens because a parent always bails them out of difficult situations, they will struggle as adults as they face challenges. By not teaching children to solve their own problems, the potential for drug and alcohol abuse, criminal activity or having your adult children live with you into their forties are increased risks.

Learning to deal with problems cultivates independence. From newborn to 18-years old, parents only have those 18 years before their child becomes a legal adult. At this point, there are more responsibilities upon their shoulders. By allowing and teaching them to solve their own problems, they will gain independence and be able to get along in the world without your watchful eye or constant guidance. They will need to get a job, go to college, pay bills and rent, do their own laundry, cook their own meals and maintain a vehicle. These are all adult situations that are more easily handled if they previously had the opportunity to figure out problems on their own.

Solving their life problems helps them to think and understand. As children deal with problems, they will learn to navigate life. The perspectives they gain can teach them sympathy for others, gain an understanding of how the world works and how to get along with others. They will need guidance but parents can't, and shouldn't, always hand them solutions on a silver platter. To thrive in life, we have struggles to make us stronger and teach us valuable lessons.

For instance, learning to solve problems in their young friendships will be valuable later in life. If they can learn to get along with other personalities while they are young, they are more likely to be able to handle work relationships, work in groups of people, know how to compromise and ultimately get along with others in various social and professional situations.

By finding their own solutions, children will gain confidence and self-esteem. We can all remember a time when we finally overcame a problem we had struggled with and the proud feeling we had, as a result. Learning to tie shoes, ride a bike, read a book alone, cook a meal or drive a car are all great experiences that can build confidence and self-esteem. As children accomplish milestones and achievements on their own, they will believe in themselves and understand that they can do hard things.

Going through experiences and trials are a part of life. As our children learn to cope with these on their own, they will learn, grow and become stronger and more independent people. It is necessary for their growth and development to learn how to handle hard things on their own. If we try to “protect” them from hard times, we will actually do more harm than good.

Email Wendy Jessen at

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The importance of letting kids solve their own problems