Family Communications Tightrope

10 Ways to Better Problem Solving

All families experience problems at some time. No matter how strong a family unit is or how positive our relationships, siblings will still argue, parents may be stressed over finances, bedtime routines may be difficult to establish.  The demands of daily life can be challenging and problems can easily arise. If a recurring problem is not addressed, over time it can become a major issue and affect the quality of life and relationships at home for every member of the family. It is essential to recognise and address problems to help prevent this happening. Our ’10 Ways to Better Problem Solving’ can be useful in solving challenging family problems.

  1. Name the issue, identify the problem. Work on the easier issues first of all. Working out the smaller stuff gives you the confidence to address the bigger issues.
  2. Try to figure out how strongly everyone feels on the issue at hand by asking, on a scale of 1 to 10, how strongly do you feel about your point? 1 is not very strong and 10 is very strong.
  3. Do not attempt to start talking about a solution until you can truly re-state each person’s point to their satisfaction and understand it, and have established what, if any, common ground there is.
  4. Communicate about the problem with each other using the four-step method for clear and direct communication:
    • Observations | Be factual. Don’t judge or evaluate. State the problem clearly.
    • Feelings | Talk about what this observation makes you feel. Ask other family members what their feelings are about it.
    • Needs | Talk about the needs that cause these feelings.
    • Requests | Be clear, ask for – not demand – what you want. Other family members should have the option to say no and come up with alternatives.
  5. Come up with some solutions – ask everyone in the family for them.
  6. Select a solution.
  7. Act on the solution. Divide out responsibility amongst the members of the family.
  8. Appoint someone to monitor the action. For less serious issues, children can be responsible monitors too.
  9. Evaluate the whole thing, and within a reasonable time, ask if the solution is working? If not, pick another one to try. Talk about what you all learnt from the situation.
  10. Remember that is not your job as the parent to ‘fix’ life. Empower your children to make decisions and be responsible.

Having read these tips, you may also find our 10 Ways to Run a Family Meeting helpful.

If you would like support, information or advice in relation to the topic above, contact our lo-call askonefamily helpline on 1890 66 22 12 / One Family offers a range of training options to help parents and guardians to build on their parenting skills which you can find out about here. These include our upcoming Summer School of Parenting Skills Workshops in July.

This week’s ’10 Ways to …’ is adapted by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly, from our Family Communications training programme.

Coming soon: 10 Ways to Develop Family Rituals and 10 Ways to Develop Coping Skills in Your Family.