Problem solving is an everyday skill that as adults we possess. However, we did not simply wake up one morning with this skill. Problem solving is a skill that is learnt through years of practice, repetition, patience and acceptance. Newborn babies learn this skill the moment they enter this world. They learn really quickly that if they are hungry, they will cry, and then be fed. That being said, crying is not necessarily the way to solve the problem of cleaning up a glass of spilt milk. Problems and obstacles arise every day, and we learn different methods for dealing with different problems.
As parents, it is our job to help teach our children the many methods of solving problems, of all shapes and sizes. For example, our toddler is facing a very difficult problem: He cannot make the ball go into the square opening. Think about how you would solve this problem, and the thinking that your toddler would have in solving this problem. Will your toddler turn the box to find the round opening? Will your toddler push with all his might until the ball gets extremely stuck in the square opening? Will your toddler just give up?
As parents, we need to help our children succeed at learning this lifelong skill.
- Set a good example
- Play games that promote thinking
- Encourage your child to find answers
- Prompt your child to work at solving problems
- Congratulate your child when they solve a problem on their own
- Involve your child in family problem solving
Every problem we face will result in different tasks of solving. However, each problem is essentially dealt with in the same sequence – even though we do not necessarily think of this.
Below are the steps that we unconsciously follow to solve every day problems:
- Define the problem
- Come up with solutions
- Evaluate the options
- Decide on the best solution
- Put the plan into action
- Review how it worked and revise the plan if necessary
At the end of the day, you are your child’s first teacher. They will mimic your actions. If they see you solving daily dilemmas in a calm and effective manner, then they too will learn to solve problems in a calm and effective manner.