The world is full of problems and there aren’t enough solvers. Somewhere down the line, we have digressed into becoming problem-oriented rather than solution-oriented, and we need to change that. If we talk about kids, they face problems on a day-to-day basis. Whether it’s a toy-related problem, math equations or some kind of negative peer pressure, kids of all ages are constantly facing these rough challenges.
Parents and teachers can’t be physically and emotionally available at all times to solve the kids’ problems, but what needs to be done is to instil problem-solving skills in kids so they can overcome these hurdles themselves. Those who find a way to deal with their problems become robust, confident and independent individuals.
A 2010 study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy found that kids who lack problem-solving skills may be at a higher risk of depression and suicidality. Additionally, the researchers found that teaching a child problem-solving skills can improve mental health.
At such an age, it is easier for kids to avoid an issue rather than taking it head-on. They can easily get annoyed when they face a challenge. Kids who lack problem-solving skills may avoid taking action when faced with a problem. Some kids even make impulsive decisions that may create even bigger problems in the long run.
Problem-solving is a fundamental element to a child’s learning capacity. For parents, it’s important to understand that whatever age your kids are, allow them to make mistakes and teach them how to move forward. You don’t need to do something extraordinary to facilitate your child’s growth, but rather a responsive, acceptive attitude will help foster your child’s ability.
Perhaps, don’t think of yourself as a mentor, teacher or a parent. Think of yourself as an observer, supporter, facilitator, interacting as a questioning partner, and sharing with children how you solve problems.
So, how can we actually teach children these problem-solving skills? Well, the cognitive ability usually differs from child to child and the gravity of the challenges they face also evolve over time and with age.
Try these strategies to teach your kid problem-solving skills and learn how you can develop a solution-focused mindset from the early age.
- Model Effective Problem-Solving
To start with, make your child feel comfortable about making mistakes. Everyone faces trouble and it’s okay to make mistakes. Now, when you face a real-world challenge, do a “think aloud” for your child and model the same problem-solving skills that you’re undergoing for them to implement in their lives.
When you model problem-solving and deal with situations outside of yourself, things sometimes get out of control and solutions don’t work and it’s important to tell your child just that. One should focus on what can be controlled.
- Identify the Problem
When you form a clear image of your problem and learn about its roots, your work is almost half done. Help your children by stating their problem out loudly. A lot of times they feel confused and stuck as to what is bothering them. A sense of clarity is hugely beneficial to problem-solving.
- Ask for Advice
It’s not just kids who face problems, all of us do. Sometimes what we can do as parents is turn to our kids for solutions of our own problems. Firstly, it tells them that anybody can make mistakes. Secondly, it gives them the opportunity to be in someone else’s shoe and practice problem-solving. Moreover, if they do provide genuine, sensible solutions that you, later on, implement in your life, it’d give them immense confidence and boost to solve their own problems without a hassle.
- Don’t Just Simply Provide “The Answer”
It is very natural for parents to reach out to their child if they see them struggling in any way, but sometimes you need to allow them to undergo important changes while they struggle. You must allow your child to fail and learn from the experiences and the consequences. By not providing a solution, you are helping them to strengthen their mental muscles to come up with their ideas. Sometimes, the problem is too big for them to understand on their own. In such situations, break the problem into smaller steps, help them understand and ask questions that may incite a solution.
- Encourage Creative Play
There are a lot of fun-learning, STEM activities going around that encourage creative play as well as problem-solving skills. Why not make construction sites from toys? How about saving a city in turmoil from available material?
Kids of all ages learn most in the context of the play. This type of play involves challenges and requires imagination. Eventually, problem-solving becomes its own reward.
- Stay Open-Minded
A healthy relationship is an important element for the exchange of problem-solving. At times you might have different views and a plan of action towards a certain problem, but if you share a good bond, you would be able to inculcate disparate views into a single solution. Children should be able to take on a new perspective.
- Emotion Coaching
There is a great emotional burden that we all carry within ourselves. First of all, it is important for you to tell your child that all their emotions are absolutely valid and acceptable. Once they learn to manage their emotions, only then they’ll be able to consider logical solutions. All emotions are valid and should never be discarded, what matters is how we respond to these emotions.
- Allow Natural Consequences
Sometimes, you should just allow natural consequences to take charge of a situation and give vital lessons to your child. If they’re in a troublesome circumstance, let the situation unfold and take them where it wants to take them and see how they respond. Just make sure it is safe to do so. Consider these natural consequences as a teachable moment to help work together on problem-solving.
- Go Out and Play
According to research, problems get solved during play. Sometimes, simply sitting and constantly banging your head over a problem doesn’t provide anything. If that’s the case, probably one should go out and play. Do activities that take your child’s mind off of the problem so they can refuel and approach things from a fresh perspective. Sometimes, solutions arrive when we’re not seeking them.
- Allow Failure to Happen
If we’re too worried and massively unwilling to see our children fail in life, then we’re holding back our children from learning. Failure is a part of life just like anything else and it should not be seen in a bad light. Allow the failures to come and pass. Meanwhile, make sure your children are moving towards a growth mindset.
Have more suggestions or ideas on how you can make your child a problem solver? Comment below and let us know.