It’s an inevitable part of being human – challenges, problems, and set-backs are bound to happen. But, how we address these problems is what helps to shape us. Of course, the ability to solve problems is a skill, and skills require lots and lots of practice! Here are a few tips you can use when you’re helping to teach your child to problem solve.
1. Help your child to identify the problem.
When problems arise, it’s not uncommon for a child to become upset. They may become overwhelmed, and that means that they may be temporarily unable to think their way clearly through the issue.
One thing that you can do to help direct your child’s thinking is to make sure that you, and your child, understand the problem. For example, if you’re at the playground and your child appears upset, you can state the problem by saying, “It looks as though you don’t have anybody to play with.” Once the problem has been established, you and your child get set to work solving it!
2. Think about solutions with your child.
The next step is to begin to think about solutions to the issue that has arisen. Now, your little one may come up with all sorts of ideas, and some of them may be far-fetched. That’s okay! The point of the exercise is to teach your child that the first ingredient to solving any problem is a dash of creativity.
3. Evaluate the pros and the cons.
So now you have a list of possible solutions to the problem. The next step is to evaluate the good aspects and the not-so-good aspects of each option. For example, back at the playground, your child may have decided that if they got a puppy they’d always have someone to play with! The pro? It’s a great long-term solution and a very good point. The con? You and your child only have limited time to play at the playground before you have to go home for lunch. That’s not enough time to go and get a puppy. (Not to mention, puppies need a lot of preparation and care).
As you help your child to walk through the pros and cons of each possible solution, you may find that they reach a good conclusion all on their own!
4. Select a solution.
As we’ve mentioned before, sometimes younger children have a bit of difficulty making a decision. That’s okay! Feel free to help your child choose which solution seems to be a good option.
5. Try it out!
Next, you get to watch as your child begins to solve their problem using the solution you found together. Most things in life take a little bit of trial and error, so if the first solution isn’t the answer, just choose the next one from the list that you came up with together. Soon, the issue will be a thing of the past and you can carry on about your day knowing that your child has acquired some more valuable tools that they can carry with them throughout their lives.
Until next time,