How To Teach Your Child To Be A Problem Solver
Updated: Apr 5
Problem solving is foundational to a child’s learning capacity. Although many of us hate to admit it, it is the truth that as a parent, you can’t always be there to solve every problem for your children.
When they start to go to school, it will not be possible for you to be by their side all the time. So, eventually, you are going to have to teach them how to solve problems by themselves, with minimal help.
Did you know that you can and you should begin teaching basic problem-solving skills during your child’s early years?
Starting early will help your child sharpen their skills into their school years and beyond. Read on to learn how you can effectively teach your kids to be problem solvers!
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Ask any parent and they would naturally want to help their child when they are faced with problems and distress. Many of us do not enjoy and do not want to see our child struggle or feel stressed. Moreover, helping them to solve their problems seem to be the quicker way to handle any situation, because they may take a longer time trying to solve the problem themselves.
However, rather than jumping in immediately to rescue them, allowing them to experience a problem themselves is essential to building their problem-solving abilities. To start off, you should acknowledge their emotions, and let them know that you are here for them if they need you.
Try not to be a “Helicopter Parent”—a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children—that hovers above them to look at their every move. Instead, take a step back to allow your child to have the space to explore, make mistakes, learn from their mistakes, and move forward.
What you could do is that when they are faced with a setback or a problem, you may direct them to think of a solution to their problems by asking them questions and expressing lots of empathy.
Ask questions like “How are you feeling?” and “What do you think we can do about it?”
Then, together with your child, brainstorm for solutions to solve the problem.
Be sure to listen more than talk during the conversation. This will allow your child to actively practice their problem-solving skills. By doing so, he or she will be more likely to confidently implement the solutions in the future without having to ask you to solve their problems.
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Encourage play that involves problem-solving
Through everyday play, our children learn critical skills such as problem-solving, creativity, communication, cooperation, as well as confidence. Toys like blocks, simple puzzles, and even playing dress up with different clothes can teach your child the process of problem-solving.
While playing, your child will engage in critical thinking with questions such as “Where should this puzzle piece go?” or “What should I wear?”.
All these are part of problem-solving as your child would be thinking and considering among several factors and choices before finally proceeding with a chosen action!
"You can also look at other articles in our blog such as The Hows and Whys of Ways To Make Babies Laugh and Fun Ways For Supporting Learning At Home to learn more about injecting play into everyday life."
Allow room for mistakes
Often times, parents will scold their children for making mistakes. However, it is shown that children are less likely to try again if their efforts are constantly being put down.
Instead of nagging or scolding your child for a mistake that was already made, show them that everyone makes mistakes, and that is okay! Raising a problem solver means giving your child the opportunity to work out his or her mistakes.
Tip: Let your child know that when a problem arises, the first solution that they implement will not always work out, and that they should keep trying until they solve the problem!
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Ask your child for help
When your child is a little older and is able to help you, be sure to try to ask them for help. This helps to shift the dynamics between you and your child.
It also helps them to understand that you respect their ability and capacity to help you to solve problems. More importantly, it will build their confidence and self-esteem, which makes them more likely to try to solve their problems by themselves in the future.
For example, when dressing up, ask “Is the red or the blue shirt nicer?” or while grocery shopping, ask for their opinions about what cereal the family should buy!
Seek Professional Support
Sometimes, parents choose to seek professional support from enrichment classes or infant care educators. Children are often able to develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills from the programs and curriculum that are offered.
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