We encounter big and small problems every day. As adults, we are vary of these life situations and, hopefully, many of us have figured ways to deal with problems (at least recurring ones). Problem-solving is undoubtedly a magnificent skill. The earlier children learn this, the better they get at it as they grow up. It encourages independence, creative thinking, and improves their ability to cope. Parents play a big role in helping their children develop problem-solving abilities. How you handle problems and how you respond to problems faced by children can make a difference. Here are some things you can do to encourage the skill. Ask The Child – If you have a concern that you feel they could help with, brainstorm together and ask them for advice. For example, if you are redecorating the house and get stuck not knowing what to do with a particular corner, ask the little one for input. You’ll be surprised how creative they can get.
Let Them Observe – As they say, children learn more through observation than from what we tell them. They are always watching what we do and how we behave. If you maintain a calm demeanor while strategically solving a problem, you will notice that the young minds will soon emulate the same behavior.
Do NOT Solve Their Problems – If you want to teach them a skill, make sure they have ample opportunities to apply it. For instance, if your toddler has a fight with another child in the park, don’t go rushing in to mediate, support or (worse) put the other child down. Allow your young one to figure out how to deal with the issue and observe from a distance. You can always give them feedback on their approach and how you may have handled it differently. Of course, certain aggressive cases call for parents to step in. But choose your timing wisely.
Here’s a fun way to introduce the concept of problem-solving to your child:
Step 1 - Assess Their Feelings
Oh, so they are stuck in a difficult situation. First, ask them what they are feeling. Are they upset or angry? Often the emotions associated with a problem are the bigger problem. So, remember to address those little feelings before moving on.
Step 2 – The Real Problem
Now, let’s get to the heart of the issue. What exactly happened? Ask the child if they are stuck with something, having a fight with someone, or what the actual matter is.
Step 3 – The Super Solution
Having determined the problem, it is only a matter of time before we can find a solution. Reassure your little one that there is always a solution. They only need to think about it with a calm mind.
Step 4 – Evaluate the Consequences
Sometimes the easy way out might not be the best way out. Make sure your child understands how their solution would affect others. Help them evaluate if the solution is safe, fair or if it would cause a problem to others. Thinking in this manner can help nurture empathetic problem solvers.
Now to the best part! While life will throw several problems for your little ones to solve, you can always get a head start and a fun one at that. Here are a few activities that children will love while putting their problem-solving abilities to use.
Mazes – This game involves strategic thinking. Have your little one start at the beginning and find a way to the end. If you want to make it more challenging, limit the number of chances they can take.
Puzzles – Want to see them churning their brains? Give them a puzzle to solve. You will never see children working with a problem in such a serene manner. Don’t forget to observe the joy on their faces when they manage to fix the entire puzzle.
Treasure Hunt – Your Sherlock Holmes is sure to love this game. In fact, it is more fun when you need to engage a group of children in a productive activity. Make sure the clues are age-appropriate and the hunt is within a limited space to ensure safety. And then, allow their little minds to solve the mystery!
Building Blocks – Playing with blocks is a great way to promote experimentation. As they grow, you will notice that their structures get progressively complex. But if you want them to get creative, you could perhaps ask them to build a bridge between two buildings and see how they employ their imagination.
The early years set the stage for a child’s entire life. Parents, caregivers, and educators alike should help children learn skills that will allow them to become conscious and pragmatic individuals. At Dibber, we know that the early years are crucial, which is why we encourage empathetic interaction as a major component in the developmental process.