Teach Kids How to Problem-Solve


I hope you enjoyed our series of articles promoting the ParticipACTION program Bring Back Play.

If you live in the Lower Mainland you will be interested in the free workshop on May 13. I hope to see you there. http://tinyurl.com/lr6vvrj 

After today’s article take a look at our new mini e-parenting book. Just download and choose the chapters that fit for you or read it all.

Let’s take a look at how we can help our kids learn how to solve their own problems.

Kids Need to Learn to Problem-Solve

 Kids are not immune to problems but all too often they are protected from either the ticklish task of solving the problem or dealing with the consequences of their behaviour.

Six-year-old Jared and 8 year-old Olivia are in a major tussle over the TV remote. They both want to watch TV but are arguing over which show to select. As Jared tries to grab the remote which Olivia has in a death grip, their yelling and screaming brings their Dad running to the room.

He quickly assesses the problem, sets up the pvr to tape one of the shows and the turns the channel to the other. Problem solved.

Ryan’s mother, Deborah sighs when she sees that 11-year-old Ryan has left his school project sitting on the dining room table. He never gets himself organized to bring all his stuff with him to school. She knows the project is due today. If he doesn’t submit it he will lose marks for missing the deadline. She figures if she hurries she can drop it off at the school on her way to work. Problem solved.

But what have the kids learned? Well, we can see that they haven’t taken any steps toward solving their own problems. And they have learned that someone else (usually Mom or Dad) will solve their problems for them.

Most of us are aware that there is a problem-solving process. But we don’t consider teaching it to our children. As long as we avoid teaching them how to generate their own solutions, we will be the ones handling all their conflict and problems.

So, let’s take a look at a better way. In the short run, it’s more work and challenge to teach kids to handle their own disputes and problems. But like all the challenges of child raising, teaching them to look after themselves has major long-term benefits. It’s also the right thing to do if we want our kids to grow up to be capable young men and women.

Step one is to identify and define the problem. Throughout this whole process the trick is to let the kids have the time they need to do the work. It’s easy for us to identify the two TV shows at the same time, or always forgetting homework. But when we do the work, they don’t learn. Take as much time as necessary to listen until a clear definition of the problem is presented.

Next, ask them to generate solutions. Ask children for their ideas. Accept all ideas, don’t evaluate, judge or belittle, and keep allowing possible solutions until there are no more ideas. You might be surprised at the creative ideas they develop or they might actually come up with exactly what you would say. The point is for them to think of as many ideas as they can.

Once you have a list of possible solutions, evaluate them. Some may be downright silly and the kids will giggle while the three of you decide they just aren’t going to work. For example, buying more TVs is not going to make the cut.

Allow everyone to have an opportunity to state their feelings about the list of ideas created in the previous step.

Decide on the best solution. Most often after the evaluation, one solution usually emerges as ideal. If not, use consensus to select one, or create a solution from a combination of ideas.

Implement the solution you have chosen. This is the step that is most often missed and causes problems. Once the solution is selected, make a note of what is needed to make it happen. Who will do what, and when?

And it’s essential to have a time for a follow-up evaluation. The decision is that Ryan will collect all his school materials together before he goes to bed and put them right by the front door.

It’s now one week later. Is it working? If so, great. If not, it’s time to re-visit the process to find a solution that will actually work.

Once you have worked through problems with your kids you will find that they can often handle small problems on their own and come up with solutions that work.

Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments.

I have always known that each child is a unique individual. I looked at my two who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a texbook example of different.

But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking. Just before they were born I was thinking about the two movies about Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and this also caused me to think about the differences of people who live together.

The result is the e-parenting mini guideVive la Difference: Raising Children with Different Temperaments. 

Bring Kathy Lynn to your event.

Parenting Today is keen to speak as part of your professional development event, parenting workshop or workplace wellness support program. I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.

And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:

P.U.R.E. Parenting.

P — is a parenting plan

U — is unconditional love

R — is respect for your child as he is right now

E — is encouragement

These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.




Posted in Discipline, Family Concerns, News, Preschoolers, School-Age, Teens, Toddlers | Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *