More than anything we want our children to be able to solve their own problems, to be good problem-solvers. We want to make sure that when we leave this world, our children are fully capable of making good decisions. How do we effectively teach our children good problem-solving skills?
And how can we be sure that we have raised problem-solving children?
Why is problem-solving important?
Being able to solve problems on their own is an important skill-set for children. They will be happier, more confident and more independent; they will not feel frustrated or disheartened in their inefficiency. So it’s important we begin teaching children problem-solving skills from an early age.
When a child has this important skill set, they will be able to use these problem-solving skills in new social situations as well as apply them to in school. A child with good problem-solving skills will be able to use their initiative and be able to weigh up actions and consequences to guide their decisions throughout their day. They will not be overwhelmed or brought down by new tasks or have any self-doubt that these new tasks can be completed, but instead, they will have the self-belief and confidence that they need to take on new tasks.
Here are Ten Ways to Help Build Good Problem-Solving Skills:
1. Don’t fix or solve their problems for them automatically.
Children sometimes want to tackle the task themselves, and at times they are asking for support, not solutions.
2. Help them to find their own answers and solutions.
By offering support instead of solutions, you are helping to empower them to feel confident in their own abilities and self-efficacy.
3. Teach your child how they can “survive” difficult or unpleasant feelings.
While frustration, anger, disappointment, sadness, and regret may not make them feel good, your child needs to learn that they can manage these feelings when they inevitably arise.
This helps to build resilience and will help them to cope in difficult situations.
4. Don’t make it about you!
Parents like to bring up past stories of how they dealt with similar problems, but this takes the importance and the uniqueness away from your child’s situation. It can sometimes make them feel like their circumstances are being dismissed.
Instead just try listening and offering support in other ways.
5. Children feel better when they feel understood. https://www.melbournechildpsychology.com.au/blog/10-ways-to-help-your-child-solve-problems-without-lecturing-them/
Children will value feeling understood more than simply being handed a solution.
Here are some comments that might help:
- “It sounds like this has been very difficult for you”
- “I can see you are having a hard time”
- “I would like to help you — perhaps together we can try to think of strategies and ways to make it better?”
- “I trust that you have the skills to find a way to manage this. I support you and am here for you”
6. Timing is KEY!
Give your child some time to relax, unwind, and get situated after their day, before trying to get information out of them.
Instead, why not establish a set time at home that is dedicated to having a few minutes’ chat?
7. Encourage your child to think, plan, and reassess before acting.
You are helping them develop an important life-skill by teaching them that problem-solving is an ongoing process rather than an instant fix.
They might also benefit from jotting thoughts down in a journal or talking it through with someone.
8. Make sure that they learn to ask for help!
Your child needs to know that asking for help is NOT a weakness. It’s a skill set that, if learned well, and at a young age, is extremely valuable!
9. Celebrate your child’s strengths and celebrate their positive outcomes.
Show them that you are genuinely proud of their efforts and also proud of their attempts to work through difficult situations.
10. Encourage your child to have a circle of people that they can count on for support.
This includes other adults, family members, teachers, and friends.
MISC. Tips that also may help!
1. Encourage creative play.
2. Make problem-solving a fun part of the culture of your home.
3. Read problem-solving stories together.
This will help children know that problem-solving is normal and that everyone has to solve problems.
4. Allow children to experience their own failures.
Because this does happen in life, and they will need to learn how to cope.
5. Routinely ask your kids for help.
It’s important that children know that even adults need help sometimes.