“Letting Go” When You Don’t Own The Problem

I hear many parents’ frustration in feeling as if every problem that their child is experiencing is something that the parent has to solve.

“I have a science project due tomorrow and I haven’t started it yet!”
“I got suspended from school.”

“He grabbed my toy from me! I want it back now!”

Any of these sound familiar? Your natural instincts might have you asking yourself “What am I going to do about this?!”

With the Behavior Window and Problem Ownership in mind,you get to let go of the responsibility of most (if not all) of these sorts of problems that your children are experiencing – not to say that you can’t still help them!

In P.E.T., parents are urged to recognize that their children often experience problems that belong to the child alone. These “child-owned” problems may not affect the parent in a concrete or tangible way. However, the parent can still be very concerned and want to help the child resolve the problem.

P.E.T. suggests that when children own such problems that the parent respond by: Attending, Accepting, Active Listening.

Active Listening works because it helps the child discharge strong feelings and think through a problem to get some kind of resolution.

When practicing Active Listening with a problem that your child owns, it is very important to keep these two especially important things in mind: (1) the importance of staying current (not rushing ahead or lagging behind) and (2) how tempting it is to want to analyze and interpret motives and how ineffective and even damaging this can be.

Try it! You owe it to yourself to release your grasp from problems that you don’t own and are not responsible for. Think about it like this: the solution to their problem is out of your control.