Creative problem solving
Case in point, my son at the park this week. He grew up with dogs, so he obviously loves them. Here in the parks there are always people walking their dogs, sometimes with kids, mostly without any kids in tow. Shayan had this habit of running up to any dog he sees, after a lot of reminders, he’s now gotten hang of the fact that he needs to talk to the ‘master’ first and ask their permission to approach their dog. So he goes up to this man in the park with a collie mixed breed and says ‘hi’. Only the guy did not respond back. Shayan goes off in a huff, upset and hurt that his greetings were not returned. He even sulked and reminded me that I am his mother and I am supposed to solve his problem, in this case, help him to talk to this man. While I gently pointed out that maybe the man was enjoying his quiet day at the park and didn’t want to strike up conversation with anyone, Shayan was insisting that I must still help him to meet the dog. This was quite a funny conversation with a 7-year-old who is almost in tears.
It’s funny because of what he did next – he waved a loud ‘hi’ at the next dog people he met, went right up front, stuck out his hands and said ‘hi’. Now who can resist a child’s outstretched hands? So far none that I have seen this week. Since this strategy worked, he is currently sticking to it. He goes up with an out stretched hand, introduces himself with the handshake, asks the other person’s name, then their dogs (in that order) and then launches into a conversation about the dog in question. This week alone, we must have met and played with 100’s of dogs already and it is always him initiating the conversation.
Now this got me thinking, as parents and bosses, we are forever stepping in to solve problems. But what if we didn’t? What if this problem is exactly what our charges need to learn to solve? And can we even begin to guess at the creative ways that they might solve their problems? It took Shayan all of about 30 minutes to come up with a new strategy to meet more dog people and he completely changed the way he was approaching them. The change in his confidence level is amazing. I cannot help but marvel at people’s capacity to grow and learn, sometimes all on our own.