How to Solve All of Your Problems
In the last blog post, What a Unicorn Can Teach You About Problem Solving. I talked about a problem solving process
I use EMPOWER to remember the problem solving process. I like the acronym EMPOWER, because having good problem solving skills is very empowering. And without them our children have very little power to be the stars in their own life.
To review the previous post focused on POW. Define the
PROBLEM, identify the OPTION you are going to try,
choose WHICH option. I usually start with POW, because it
is easy for kids to remember and gives them a sense of
power. Today we will focus on the rest of the process
especially the EM. EM stands for empathy. Empathy is
especially important when we have a problem that involves
another person. The other person needs to feel heard. We
need to hear both the content and emotion that the other person is expressing.
If You Win You Lose
In order to have a lasting solution we need a win-win
solution. When we are in a long term relationship with
someone a win-lose solution is a lose-lose solution. It is
important to remember this. No one wants to lose all the
time, so keep in mind with your kids or your spouse your
options in relational problems are win-win or lose-lose.
Win-lose solutions breed resentment, secret keeping and
passive aggressive behavior. All of this contributes to anger,
anxiety and is very time consuming. I am all about
efficiency wether you are a one parent home, have a blended
family or are in what we think of as a traditional nuclear
family. Especially in the situation where you are parenting a
two home kid we really want win-win solutions. We just do
not have time for the fall out from a win-lose solution.
The first step to a win-win solution is understanding the
other person’s point of view and letting them know we
understand their concerns. So if a teen wants to solve the
problem of what to feed her unicorn , and I
want to review problem solving skills I have options. One
option is to get frustrated and insist she come up with a real
problem (knowing she has a number of them we could
address). Or I can keep in mind that my problem is that I am
not sure wether or not she remembers the problem solving
process I taught her and I want to review it. I also want this
to be meaningful to her and her mother. So I empathize with
her by saying, “Wow that really is a problem. I don’ t know
what to feed the unicorn who lives behind your house either.
Let’s figure this out together.”.
By empathizing I come up with a problem definition we both agree to.
I have an opportunity to review the skill and she gets to talk about the
neighborhood unicorn. The person or people you share the
problem with need to feel heard. After they are heard state
your concerns and make sure they hear you. Then proceed to
POW, PROBLEM definition, identify OPTIONS and choose
Once you have chosen an option to try set, a time to do E,
EVALUATE the option and R, REVISE if necessary. It is
important to set a time to evaluate the option to find out if it
is working or not. If it is working you are good to go. If it is
not working then it is necessary to revise the option. Use the
EMPOWER system again to decide if you revise the current
solution, try one of your other solutions or start over thinking
of new solutions. If you decide to revise the solution use the
EMPOWER system to decide what to keep and what to
change about the solution you tried.
For review her are the 6 steps to teaching problem solving.
P–define the Problem
O–identify Options for the solution
W–choose Which solution to try
E–Evaluate the solution
R–Revise if necessary
I challenge you to try EMPOWER and tell us how it went. Or do you have another problem solving process that you are willing to share.