Teaching kids how to solve problems at home can help them build healthy, positive family relationships.
Using real-life problems is the best way to teach problem-solving skills. They’ll be more likely to use these skills later in life when making choices or facing conflicts with others.
Teach kids to come up with solutions by brainstorming possible ways to fix the problem. They can also evaluate potential positive and negative consequences before selecting a solution.
1. Ask yourself what the problem is.
Problems are a part of life, but they can be overwhelming. Learning to solve problems is an essential skill that most people need, from children who can’t find their math homework to adults who have trouble with finances or a relationship.
Many of these problems can be solved by following a simple step-by-step process. For example, when deciding whether to obey the alarm clock or sleep in an extra 10 minutes, most of us automatically consider the risks and benefits of both choices and make a decision.
Teach your kids the process of solving problems by discussing examples and using role play. Reading books like Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, which tells the story of a teen who survives in the wilderness by keeping his wits about him, is another good way to demonstrate how to solve problems. Reinforce the skills by rewarding children with praise and encouragement when they do a good job. This will encourage them to continue to practice and develop their problem-solving abilities. It will also help them learn to handle difficulties in their own lives with positive attitudes.
2. Ask your child.
It is a common parental role to be a problem solver for their children. But it is essential that kids learn how to deal with challenges constructively and independently. This helps them to deescalate tense situations, think more clearly under pressure, and develop creative solutions.
Start by helping them identify the problem. Then brainstorm solutions together. When they have a few ideas, help them rate the pros and cons of each one. Then they should choose a solution to try. It may take several tries to get it right, but that’s okay. It’s important to teach that not all solutions will work and to keep trying until they find one that does.
Make solving problems a family culture. For example, when the children disagree about a book to read during bedtime, or if they forget their soccer cleats for practice, encourage them to use their problem-solving skills to come up with a way to resolve it. Also, share problem-solving stories with your children. For example, the classic young adult novel Hatchet by Gary Paulsen tells the story of a teen who survives in the wilderness by staying calm and using his problem-solving skills.
3. Ask others.
In problem-solving, we need to understand others’ perspectives and listen carefully to them in order to create solutions that are mutually beneficial. This requires effective listening skills, and it’s a skill that can be taught and developed.
To practice these skills, give kids real-life problems that they can solve and encourage them to ask questions to help find a solution. This can include anything from asking their friends to help find something they lost, to letting them know that the person sitting behind them in class is tapping on their chair too much.
Once they’ve figured out what the problem is, have them look for solutions with a friend or in their community. This can be done through interviews, emails, or even a group brainstorm. Once they’ve found some potential solutions, let them analyze them and make a decision.
It’s important to remember that there is always a benefit to solving the problem, and even if it’s hard, tackling it can reduce stress or give them a sense of accomplishment. This may help them feel more confident and able to tackle other challenges in life.
4. Make a list.
The process of solving problems often starts with creating a list of potential solutions. It’s important to be creative and not worry about how good or bad the solutions are at this stage. By generating as many solutions as possible, you can eliminate less desirable options and come up with more effective ones.
The next step in problem-solving is evaluating the pros and cons of each solution. This helps you determine if it will solve the problem in a safe, positive way. It’s also a good idea to think about what might happen if you choose not to implement the solution, as this can influence your decision.
You and your child can practice problem-solving skills by identifying issues in everyday life. For example, if your child can’t find one of their favorite toys and gets frustrated, you can help them use words to describe the problem and then think of ways to solve it (or try to). You can also ask for your child’s perspective when watching TV or reading stories together and encourage them to practice “putting themselves in someone else’s shoes” by considering how that character would respond to a situation.
5. Try it.
Teaching children problem-solving skills is a great way to help them succeed in school, in work, and in life. Having good problem-solving skills means being able to come up with creative solutions, think through possibilities, and make plans or pathways for getting around obstacles. It also means not giving up when faced with a tough challenge, and having the ability to try different approaches until finding one that works.
It’s important to clearly define a problem before beginning the solution-finding process. It’s hard to solve a nebulous problem, and no workplace is perfect, so there are often a number of interrelated problems that need to be addressed at the same time.
Having good problem-solving skills can help kids feel confident in the classroom and in their careers, and can also boost their self-esteem. It’s a skill that can be learned at any age, and starting early in childhood is the best way to help kids learn it. For example, you could give your child a difficult math problem, and encourage them to discuss it with their peers or teachers.