Whether it’s in the classroom, at home, or on the sports field, kids face various problems every day. However, many children are approaching these problems without the skills to solve them. The good news is, problem-solving is not a fixed skill. It can be learned, practiced, and perfected! Here are five steps to help develop problem-solving skills in kids:
Identify the Problem
Facing a problem can be frustrating without the proper tools to solve it, discouraging many children from trying to solve the problem on their own. While they’ve identified the emotion of defeat by the task at hand, oftentimes, they are unable to pinpoint which part of the problem is giving them trouble. When developing good problem-solving skills, a child must first be able to identify the problem in order to find a solution.
Help your child come up with at least five solutions to their problem. If they’re struggling to come up with ideas, emphasize that not all ideas will be the best way to solve the problem – but all ideas are a step closer to the solution! Even if an idea is far-fetched, it’s good practice and lays the foundation for these skills to develop in the future.
Identify Pros and Cons of Each Solution
Once some solutions are on the table, talk through the pros and cons of each idea with your child. This helps kids to identify the best solution using the process of elimination. As an adult, the best solution may be obvious – but let your child choose! Allowing your kid to struggle, and sometimes even fail, allows them to grow and practice solving problems on their own.
Pick a Solution
Now that your child has identified both the positive and negative possibilities of each action, encourage them to choose a solution. Asking open-ended questions will guide your child through the thought process behind problem-solving.
Test it Out
Finally, allow your child to test out their solution. If the solution didn’t work, discuss why and encourage them to try another solution. Practicing these steps will help your child come up with ideas to solve problems efficiently and independently – consistency is key!
Practice Problem-Solving in Your Daily Life
Eventually, this process will become second nature to your child, allowing them to solve problems using the same model for years to come. Encourage your child to face their problems rather than avoiding them. Talking through your own problems out loud and allowing your child to assist in the problem-solving process will show them that solving problems is a skill even their parents, teachers, and coaches face as well.