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Developing problem-solving skills in children helps them become more productive, confident adults. Children can gain these skills through activities that engage their minds and develop their creativity, flexibility, and perseverance. It's essential to recognize that not all children will develop their problem-solving skills at the same rate or possess the same set of abilities; however, parents can nurture these qualities by regularly participating in meaningful activities with their children. This article provides tips on developing problem-solving skills in children through play, physical activity, and family game nights.
Identify The Problem
The first step in solving a problem is understanding what it is. One of my favorite quotes about problem-solving is that if you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there. If we don't know what we are trying to solve, it doesn't matter how long we work on a solution because our results will be random. One way to identify a problem is by brainstorming possible solutions or questioning your assumptions; then, determine what variables can affect each answer and analyze each one. Once that has been done, try listing the pros and cons for each solution until you find one which produces desired results with fewer adverse effects than others.
Develop At Least Five Possible Solutions
A good problem solver understands that there are no wrong answers, only wrong directions. If you have trouble devising solutions to problems, try approaching them from a different angle. Instead of coming up with just one solution, come up with at least five. From there, pick your favorite three and move forward on those. A lousy problem solver determines only one answer because they don't have more on hand. That's okay if it works, but what if it doesn't? It could mean costly delays in getting back on track and deliverables falling behind schedule.
Identify The Pros and Cons of Each Solution
By looking at both solutions, you'll be able to figure out which one is better for your child. For example, if your child doesn't like taking a bath but does like playing outside, it would be best to put off taking a bath and go out with them instead. You can even see if there are ways to give your child some independence: maybe there's a specific time of day that works well for baths, and they could choose when they want to do it. It might sound odd at first—how is giving them an option making things fairer? Children don't always understand why something has to happen; sometimes, they just need help figuring out how it will benefit them.
Pick A Solution
Your child can't problem-solve if they don't know what to do. If they can't think of a solution, point out a few possibilities. You might say something like, well, maybe you could talk with your teacher to see if there are extra worksheets you could have for extra practice. Or I could help you practice after school today if it would help. How about we pick one and try it? Solving a problem is much easier when we have a plan in place! And having a fail-safe plan in place will help them take risks and learn from their mistakes.
Test It Out
Before implementing a problem-solving strategy, please have your child try to solve a few problems independently. Doing so will help them see that they can find solutions and will give you insight into what skills your child needs to practice (or you need to work on!). Then, step back and offer support. You want your child to feel like they are doing it all by themselves—but don't be afraid to offer guidance if they start struggling.