Helping your child become a problem solver
Guide your child in what it takes to consider conflict to be a good problem solver.
When your child was a baby, you and other caregivers solved all their problems. As infants become toddlers and develop necessary communication skills, caregivers can begin to include their child in the problem solving process. Around age two, children’s sense of self increases. They can appear to be stubborn or inflexible; however, they are attempting to express their desires and opinion. By allowing them to give their input and listening to their requests, they can become more flexible and can begin to learn how to solve problems.
Just like walking and talking, children learn and practice problem solving. Some problems will have simple and quick solutions, while other issues will be more complicated and may have more than one solution. Michigan State University Extension says that it’s important to give your child solutions that you can live with. However, in situations where your child’s safety is at stake, you should not allow your child to participate in problem solving. Also when children are in the midst of a tantrum, parents should attempt to calm the situation before involving them in problem solving. When children are very angry or frustrated, they may not be able to respond to even a simple choice.
Here are four tips for teaching children how to problem solve:
- State the problem to your child in a calm way. Ask them if they understand. Ask if they will help you solve it. If they are willing you can move forward. If they are not ready, try again later with another problem.
- Discuss only two or three possible ways to solve the problem. Tell them the possible outcomes of each solution and keep it simple.
- If the solution will happen over time, make a plan for reminding them and yourself to follow through. Be consistent in following your plan.
- Have a back-up plan if the first solution doesn’t work. Tell your child about the decision to change your approach.
Remember you are your child’s first and most important role model, and when you approach problems with a positive attitude, they will learn to do it too.