It doesn’t take many years for human beings to learn that this life is not an easy one. As a child psychiatrist and mother, and someone who’s dealt with anxiety since I was a child, I have experienced and heard so many stories of internal and external struggles that afflict children and their caregivers. These struggles continue, and many of us would say, intensify or become more frequent as we age.
Teaching kids to navigate life’s struggles is left to their family’s judgement, as these skills are not yet formally taught in schools. Yet most of us would agree that these are foundational life skills we all benefit from once they are learned. Promoting a growth mindset to solve our struggles, dialectical behavioral therapy offers a framework for learning to CHOOSE how to address problems, challenges, symptoms, or whatever it is you are dealing with in the moment.
Here are three choices to consider when you’re deciding how to navigate a problem:
The first option you could choose is to do nothing…just let the problem be what it is and allow it to continue impacting your life. The fact that you are labeling it a “struggle” or “problem” means that it is impacting your life. Sometimes our circumstances cause us to feel like there is nothing we can do and sometimes it is an act of self-preservation to do nothing at that moment.
Doing nothing today, right now, does not mean you will never do anything to resolve this problem. It just means this is your decision today.
The second choice is that you could accept the problem, allowing it to “just be” and accept what comes with it. Problems in our lives often involve more than one human being. Sometimes, not all involved parties are ready to solve the problem together or the way you wish to solve it. Sometimes we just have to accept what is. BUT even when you accept what is, you often have choices that follow…more on that later.
The third option is for you to attempt to solve the problem, to make things better. In this situation, you may need to change your approach to solving the problem or perhaps your expectations of the other person. Sometimes you have to make a request from the other person, which you may fear could result in further conflict.
Sometimes, in trying to solve the problem, we find opportunities to “meet each other halfway,” finding a more peaceful middle ground.
Understanding that 1) struggles WILL happen, 2) you have choices on how to navigate these struggles and 3) how these three choices manifest in your current family life’s struggles is of great importance if you wish to improve your own, your child’s or your overall family’s mental health. Healthy relationships are the foundation to a happy and healthy life.
Our parenting course addresses these choices and the tools you may need to effectively navigate the conflict that naturally arises in our lives, especially in our families.