Children Problem Solving

Problem solving is a very important life skill.  Those who can find ways to solve problems on their own are the most likely to have a high level of confidence in themselves and succeed in life.  Teaching children problem solving skills, starting at a young age, can really have positive impacts on their lives.  Children who can solve problems on their own or who know what people to ask or resources to use to solve problems are likely more confident, more independent, and more assertive than children who do not have problem solving skills. 

Teaching children to be problem solvers is really not all that difficult.  Problem solving lessons can be integrated right into everyday life situations rather easily.  For example, instead of doing things for your children, teach them how to do them and then have them complete the task according to the way you showed them.  When a child is able to do things on his or her own, he or she begins to feel a great deal more confident.  The more confident they are, the less overwhelmed they’ll be when faced with a problem. 

Letting children learn by doing and through trial and error are very important.  When they see that one way works and another way does not, they remember that and apply this knowledge to other situations.  Simply doing things for children that they claim they cannot do does not help them to become effective problem solvers at all. 

For example, when children cannot understand a homework problem, an adult should either show them how to do a similar problem or guide them to resources that might help them.  This way, the child does all of the actual problem solving work and learns this process so they can use it down the road to solve a wide variety of problems that come up in life. 

Another example would be if a child needs to be taken to a sports or activity practice at 6 P.M. and both of his/her parents are working at that time.  Have the child come up with some options of how he or she could get to practice on time and make a final decision together.  When children feel like they helped to solve a problem, they will have a better self-concept and a realization that they can solve problems with relying on themselves. 

The main objective in teaching problem solving skills is to realize they are more capable than most adults realize, in most cases.  Secondly, give children, especially older children and teens, the autonomy to make their own decisions (to a point) and solve their own problems.  The most important thing is to never continually do things for children and teenagers that they are capable of doing themselves.  It’s always a good idea to teach, support, and guide, but not to step in and totally do everything. Doing things for children and teens does not help them at all, it hinders them greatly. 

Another way for adults to help children become effective problem solvers is by letting them help when they have to solve a problem themselves, of course this shouldn’t be too major of a problem.  It should be a problem that is able to be solved through the use of the thought process and other assorted resources.