Three Little Words

Michelle Kinder shares three little words that get a ton of play in her household. You'll love this simple strategy, or rather, Jedi mind trick!

By Michelle Kinder | May 08, 2015

Today's post is from our Executive Director, Michelle Kinder. 
We have three little words that get tons of play at the Kinder household.  We started saying it when my daughters were pre-verbal and they are now 13 and 8.  Three little words.  No, not those three little words -- although we do say “I love you” all the time!
The three little words are, ‘We’re problem solvers.’
That’s it. Any time we have any sort of challenge, we say, ‘We’re problem solvers.’
My daughter can’t find her shoes and we’re running late for her game -- “I don’t know where your shoes are. But I know we’re problem solvers. And we’ve solved way bigger problems – where should we start?”
Our family has a conflict and we’re stuck on what to do about it. ‘We’re not sure how to get out of this situation, but this family solves problems. We’re problem solvers. Let’s think about it.”
I watch my daughter stick with something—even through discomfort.  I try not to say anything about how smart she is – I say “I noticed you stuck with that and worked on it until you solved your problem.  I love problem solvers!”
Now keep in mind -- we get the eye roll as often as we get the enthusiasm.  But we have noticed a ‘baking in’ of that problem-solving mentality. We have done a 13 year long Jedi mind trick.  Telling them that they are problem solvers actually turned them into little problem-solving children.
Another benefit of having this constant chorus about problem solving in the background is it helps remind me to resist the temptation of solving all of their problems for them – plus I’m tired and busy -- that helps keep the over-functioning in check too :)
As parents we have amazing influence over what gets ‘baked into’ our children’s identities. What you pay attention to expands.  Where attention goes, energy flows…….and all those good sayings. 
When we encourage and expand on certain characteristics, we are showing them that we value that part of their identity.
So in our family’s case, the more we talk about being a family that solves problems, the more we actually become one of those families.
I don’t want to give my daughters false assurances that nothing bad will happen.
I want to give them a deep confidence that whatever happens they can handle it.
Because….we’re problem solvers.