Be the Problem-Finder

“Don’t go looking for problems that don’t exist.”

“Don’t make a mountain out of mole hill.”

How many times have we been told in our lives to not make an issue bigger than it needs to be? And sure, this is great when you’re working through a challenge, you’re stuck in a rut or you’re just working through big emotions. The reminder that a specific event doesn’t need to be your mountain to climb can help you get through it.

But consider this: the problem-finders are often the greatest innovators in the world.

I read an article recently that highlighted that the combination of technology, innovators and the coronavirus has created a seismic shift in the way we work, learn and live. We were challenged to finding ways to work from home, to learn from home and to navigate challenges of life all at the same time.

And we found a way.

This is because, at our core, we can all be problem solvers.

The people, however, who take this to the next level, who seek out the problems waiting to happen, are the innovators.

So let’s imagine that instead of telling our children to stop looking for problems, to stop asking questions or to stop looking for trouble, what if we let them do it? What if we encouraged our kids to not only call out a problem, but learn to be accountable to at least start to solve it? Stop and notice what is going on in your world, consider what could improve it, then act to make it better.

I bet we’d inspire a new generation of problem-finders and problem solvers – some call these entrepreneurs – ready to create a product or service for something we never knew we needed but now can’t live without.

What if we encouraged our kids to find that mountain to climb and challenged them to keep asking questions?

Imagine what a world this could be.

Take Action
The next time you find yourself helping your kid(s) find a solution to a problem, ask yourself why. Are you doing it because they are struggling? Or is it because they’re taking too long?

If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably find the answer is that they are taking too long. Give them space and time to seek out their own answers and they’ll most likely surprise you with what they come up with. It helps them develop their self-belief, a skill that will serve them well throughout life.

Try doing this for yourself, too. Don’t get frustrated when you can’t figure something out. Try various mindful practices. Go for a walk. Journal. Shift your brain entirely. When you aren’t forcing a solution to show up in a specific amount of time, you just might find the game changer.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading How to Solve Any Challenge You Face (Really!)

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Why Presence Really Matters Most This Year

Have you asked your kids what they want for Christmas yet? I admit, I started asking before Halloween. A part of me doesn’t want to worry about not getting something in time. But a big part of me used it as a distraction. When that Amazon holiday wish book arrived, I told my boys “Santa’s magazine is here!” and set them off to circle the things they wanted. It gave me 30 minutes of quiet without leaning on screen time.

Though they may have a wish list that is about 10 pages long, they know that Santa will only be able to bring them one thing. To my (honest) surprise, my boys didn’t argue or get upset. They sat quietly for a minute flipping through the pages, picked up a different color marker and circled one or two toys saying, “I’ll give mine to my brother instead… I think he’ll like this the best.”

Queue the proud mom moment.

I share this story with you because I think it illustrates a very important concept: presence is more valuable than presents.

This year, I think a lot of parents and grandparents and caregivers will feel a little guilty for not spending enough time with their kids. Trying to juggle all the responsibilities of life while also playing primary caregiver 24/7 is exhausting and, honestly, impossible. It’s hard not to feel like you haven’t done enough in some area of life as you finally lay down at night. So, I think people will spend big this year, giving kids exactly what they’ve asked for and then some. It will alleviate some of the guilt we feel that life has been so weird this year. So unpredictable. So, different.

But instead of worrying about the money, or worrying about buying the exact right gift, what if, instead, you created a gift of presence? Maybe it’s a movie night and you wrap a box of popcorn and a new DVD (or a picture of a new digital version of the movie). Maybe it’s a family campout and you wrap up the ingredients for smores. Maybe it’s a sleepover night and you create a pillow / blanket fort to sleep in.

In each of these gifts, you’re giving the gift of [your] presence. To be fully and completely tuned in to your kids. Whether it’s a group event or a single event for each kid to experience your presence individually, these are the things they’ll remember. They won’t remember the toy that broke on Christmas Day night, or the toys that didn’t have the batteries they needed when they unwrapped them.

They will remember how you showed up in a big way to make it the best holiday ever.

So how will you give the gift of presence this year?

Take Action
As you’re scouring the wish lists from your kids, try getting a little creative. If they ask for movies or books, how could you make it something you can do together? For example, if they ask for books, maybe you write and illustrate one together.

And get others involved! Ask friends and family members for their ideas to find ways to be more engaged and present in your kids’ lives without giving more toys and stuff.

Remember where the memories are made and traditions start.

By Kristin Allaben

Consider reading I’m Thankful For…

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