Sam is becoming quite the problem solver! About 6 months ago, I started asking her to try to think of solutions to her problems on her own, instead of suggesting everything for her. For example, she might whine and complain that I would not allow her to wear her sandals in freezing weather. My old strategy was offering choices such as, "It's too cold to wear sandals outside today, but you can wear your sandals in the house when we get home, or you can put on 2 pairs of socks under the sandals if you really want to wear them to school." But I started interjecting the occasional, "Do you have any ideas about how to solve this problem?" She would occasionally come up with something in the easy cases, and sometimes she would just reiterate her original want: "I just want to wear my sandals!"
Lately, though, she has been coming up with really creative solutions. Sometimes she even comes up with ideas that would never have occured to me. I can think of two examples:
A few days ago, we were hanging out with the neighbors in our front yard and Sam and her friend C. were playing hopscotch and throwing a ball around. C. took off her shoes and I remembered that the lawn people had put chemicals on the grass that morning, so I warned C.'s parents that they might want to have her keep her shoes on. Of course, as they were talking to C. about it, Sam started taking her shoes off, too. I asked her if she had heard what I said about the chemicals. (She knows all about not getting chemicals on her skin.) I told her that she would need to keep her shoes on today. She said, "How 'bout I just stay on the sidewalk?" Of course, that solved the problem, and I told her it was fine and complimented her on her idea. (She only forgot and stepped in the grass once - not bad!)
On Sunday, we were planning out our family time for the day. When we have a lot of little things to accomplish on the weekends, I often suggest that we make a list and write everybody's wants down, and then decide what to do in what order, to make sure everyone gets to do at least one thing that is important to them. On this particular day, I wanted to go to Best Buy, Adam wanted to install some light switches, Sam wanted to go to the playground, and we all wanted to go to the dog park. It was 10am and, trust me, it's hard to accomplish all that if you don't start at the crack of dawn. I was thinking out loud about how we might get it all done and said, "and at some point before nap time, we need to have lunch." Sam piped up: "How 'bout we have lunch at the playground?" That solved the entire logistical problem. We first went to Best Buy, picked up some fast food, and then brought it to the playground, so that we got all of that done before nap time.
Those are just two examples that occur to me at the moment, but Sammy is full of ideas like this, and she's been showing fewer signs of frustration lately too. Choices are still an important part of my parenting toolbox, but now I don't have to come up with all of them!