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Reader’s Question: Other parents in my family say that I should not get involved when our children have problems, because they believe that kids should be left to just work it out on their own. What do you think?

Kidpower Answer:  Until they have the skills to manage problems on their own, children need adult supervision. Most adults will not let children work things out for themselves with cars, fires, knives, or lakes because someone might get hurt. Most adults will not stand by if a child starts throwing blocks through the window or smashing food into the carpet, because this behavior is destructive even if no one is about to get hurt. So why would adults abandon children by expecting them to work things out for themselves when dealing with problems with people?

As adults, we are responsible for creating cultures of caring, respect, and safety for the young people in our lives.

For younger children, positive simple interventions can be very effective in teaching children how to speak up for themselves and to listen to others. For older children, adults can model powerful positive leadership by stepping in to discuss what is going on, stating the values, asking questions to explore whether these values are being met, and exploring options so that everyone can have a good time.

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Published: March 9, 2012   |   Last Updated: June 20, 2016

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.