Solutions Based Parenting: To Develop Your Child's Strengths, Begin with The End in Mind

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

We are all looking for solutions now more than ever-especially with the complexities of educating children during Covid-19. This is especially true when educating the child with special needs. These are difficult times but they are also not impossible problems. A solution focused approach can be effective even during times of great disruption. As we look at a Solutions focused approach, remember that the habits and strategies your child learns today will have a long lasting positive impact on her future happiness and success. Building on the strengths of your child enables greater self confidence, improved relationships and self management skills with the potential for a long lasting impact.

If you are a parent struggling to manage your child's new home learning environment, and the chaos of everyone living in close quarters, you're not alone. Many parents are balancing the demands of their work life and their child's home school needs having little past experience to draw on. For example, suppose that your child is struggling with managing attention with the on-line learning platforms or missing assignments that the teacher is unable to grade. Solution focused parenting is the perfect tool to use because it capitalizes on your child's strengths and together you might be surprised at what you can accomplish.

The first problem to address is the work space the child is using. To see if this is the reason your child is struggling to maintain attention, grab your notepad app and jot down your observations. To start, ask your child and check the environment: are there distractions that enable off task behavior? Are there toys, or unnecessary devices available? Is it too loud? How's the seating? Ask your child what he thinks is causing him to be distracted. What does she think might help her to focus better?

Writing everything down along with your child creates a team approach, and shows your child his power to improve the situation, as well as how seriously you take his learning, and that you are there to help. Including your child in the process helps her to understand how an organized home space works to her advantage and can give a sense of ownership. In the future, these same strategies may be used to make her college or career space more conducive to work. He will be able to independently identify and create comfortable work zones. Share your observations with the teacher or school counselor so that you might gain insights and collaborate with school. If your child has an I.E.P. or 504 plan, be sure to reread the document section entitled, "accommodations." This includes information about what school does to enable your child's success in the classroom setting.

Another challenge may be missing or incomplete assignments. This may frustrate you as you try to identify what is missing and how to help your child get it done; it may cause difficulty for the teacher as she can't accurately evaluate your child's progress; and your child may feel embarrassed or upset when told they are not meeting class expectations. A solution focused approach can help in this situation too.

Start by talking with your child. Does your child have a system for tracking what's been assigned and when it is due? Does your child understand how to get started? what materials are needed? Does he understand how to read and re-read directions in order to get clear on what's expected? These are significant skills necessary in learning and later on in adult life too. They are also areas where many children stumble.

Solutions for these self starting problems can include helping your child to create a written agenda of items due, with due dates listed that you review with her daily. At first, a structured daily meeting may be strange but stick with it, and praise your child for any effort in the right direction; regular reinforcements build strong habits. If the child is keeping the agenda in a specific location, and knows where to find it easily-notice this out loud in his presence and encourage more of the same behavior! If your child completes or attempts an assignment, notice and strongly encourage with words like, "Way to go, you are really trying!!" and a pat on the back, or a high-five.

Pro-tip: Did you know that research supports touch as an extremely powerful positive reinforcement tool for most people?? So a seemingly small gesture like gentle pat or quick hug goes a long way in building your child's self confidence AND your relationship. Be generous with this kind of positive attention and see your child flourish!

encourage your child to read directions out loud at least twice to make sure they completely understand what's required. Then, let them take the lead on getting work done by asking them what's required. This lets you know if he understands how to get started without micro managing his work. You can further empower your child by enlisting them as keeper of the office supplies- in charge of sharpened pencils, a designated spot for materials to be stored when not in use and being sure electronic devices are charged and ready.

Many children benefit from visual lists kept in an easy to see spot (ask your child to pick the location). By creating or downloading a checklist for how to start, complete and turn in assignments, they can develop self sufficiency in these areas. They may initially need reminders at the daily meeting but eventually it will become a habit that will aid her for years to come.

Pro Tip: Consider using a plastic sleeve protector and a clipboard to preserve the cleanliness and usability of the document, with a dry erase marker secured to the top of the clipboard for ease of use.

These solution focused approaches will improve your current situation, and teach your child how to organize, start projects and see them through to completion. While developing and building on these skills may feel tedious at first, keep reminding yourself and your child that everything gets easier with practice. These critical skills are necessary for almost every aspect of life, from applying to jobs to being successful at work and in the home. The benefits far outweigh the challenges with regard to your child's future independence.

Solution focused techniques can have a long lasting effect on your child, when designed with the end in mind, and with your child's best interest at heart. As always, before putting these into place, reach out to your child's teacher to learn from her what's been effective in the past. Parents and schools working together are the ideal team for helping your child be happy and successful as they navigate virtual learning and typical school days.

Thanks for reading and I hope I answered some questions about why Solution focused approaches are an optimal choice when helping your child. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

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