Kids: Problem Solving
Practicing problem solving is very important in child development. After all, how successful kids will be at problem solving once they grow up, largely depends on how they handled their problems throughout their childhood. And as it goes with everything in life, children’s problem-solving skills may vary a lot.
No matter how much a child struggles with making decisions or handling their problems - there are solutions. And you as a parent probably know best where your kid stands.
That said, all of us can be quite subjective when it comes to our kids, so it may be tough for us to face the truth. For instance, it may be difficult for us to admit that our child runs away from making decisions, doesn’t come up with efficient solutions, or doesn’t know how to handle conflict.
And this is where we step in, because by the end of this article, you will have learned:
- what the process of problem solving is for kids and how they can become better at it;
- what your kid struggles with when it comes to resolving their issues;
- methods and ways to help your child boost their problem-solving skills.
So, let’s get down to business!
The Importance of Problem Solving for Children
process of solving any kind of problem. This process is acted upon in some steps. These steps start from identifying the problem and determining the cause of the problem. After the problem and its cause are identified, the next step is to select alternatives for the solution and implement the solutions.
And although the process may differ between adults and children (in the sense that both groups will approach it from their own perspective, depending on their age, maturity level, and so on), improving one’s problem-solving skills is equally important for all age groups.
We say this because many parents tend to undermine the importance of problem-solving skills in children, thinking their kids are way too young to be dealing with solving problems or that these skills will develop on their own.
Both claims are somewhat problematic because:
- Although it’s absolutely true that certain skills are gained organically as we go through life, oftentimes it’s up to us to (further) develop them.
- Every child deals with some kind of a problem, or multiple problems, on a daily basis. And this doesn’t have to include any serious matter - it can be as simple as deciding how to tell the teacher they forgot their homework, informing their mother they broke the vase while playing with their ball in the living room, or forgetting to text their best friend for their birthday.
Now, what matters is the following: it’s not just significant to acknowledge that children have problems, but to inspire confidence in them to resolve them.
And there are many ways to do so. Let’s see how you, as a parent, can help boost these problem-solving skills in your kid in the following section.
How To Instill Problem-Solving Skills in Children?
There is definitely not a one-size-fits-all method to help each child master problem-solving skills. This shouldn’t discourage you, though, as there are tons of ways to help your kid improve their problem-solving abilities.
- Ask your kids for advice. Yes, when you’re the one dealing with a problem, ask your children what they think about it. Ask them for some suggestions.
- Allow them to experience failure from time to time. Let them go to school one time without any homework and see how they feel afterward. Let them forget to charge their phones before school, and see how they react once they realize they won’t be able to use it during the day. These aren’t mean things - it’s just you helping your kids grow without being “a helicopter parent”.
- Praise them for their efforts and creative solutions they’ve come up with so far. This will boost their confidence and make them enjoy problem-solving activities even more.
- Make it a routine for your kids to help around the house. This will instill in them a sense of responsibility and discipline, which later on translates into successfully handling their problem-solving situations.
- Make things playful and introduce entertaining ways that help improve children’s problem-solving skills, like playing chess, for example.
Examples of Problem Solving in Everyday Lives of Children
The problems children experience in school are much bigger than solving mathematical equations, for example. In fact, they go beyond the material being covered.
That said, let us start with the material-based problems first.
School asks children not only to demonstrate their creativity, critical thinking, and develop various mental models, but also to solve a lot of problems in order to boost their current knowledge levels.
And these problem solving challenges show up in various ways, depending on the subject being taught. For instance, in biology it may include hypotheses, observation, deductions, and experimentation; in maths we could refer to math riddles, pattern problems, linear equations, decimals, percentages, to name a few; if they’re preparing a performance in acting class they need to come up with the best way to memorize their speeches, coordinate their body language, remain serious in comic situations, and so on.
Also, engaging pupils in puzzles, memory games, association games, building with construction toys (such as legos, wooden blocks, and engineering blocks, depending on their age, of course), and tic-tac-toe may further boost pupils’ problem-solving abilities.
And if you feel some of these suggestions can’t be properly applied in an educational context (such as the suggestion to use legos, for instance), it’s time to re-think what you’ve been told! :)
Namely, legos have been used to teach numerous subjects and to cover useful educational content, such as:
- letter building;
- story starters;
- counting bricks;
- 3D shapes;
- designing a home/vehicles/flags/atoms/models/shapes, and so on.
Then, when it comes to using riddles in a school context, it’s worth noting there are a couple of ways to approach this. But more importantly, there are a couple of reasons to do so. Namely, riddles not only encourage a pupil “to be an ‘active’ rather than ‘passive’ listener, but o working with riddles can also improve the effectiveness of the overall learning environment, as these sorts of problems require a variety of skills and bring new meaning to abstract concepts”.
Below, we share some riddles that you may try with your kid at home (of course, not every child may wish to engage in this, as older children may find them boring, and youngsters could struggle to cope up with adequate solutions, but it’s worth giving them a shot).
Here there are:
- What kind of room has no doors or windows? Answer: A mushroom.
- What begins with T, finishes with T, and has T in it? Answer: A teapot.
- What belongs to you, but other people use more? Answer: Your name.
- What building in a town has the most stories? Answer: The library.
- What falls in winter but never gets hurt? Answer: The snow.
Other (not so academic) school problems count too
There are other school situations that frequently happen and require problem-solving strategies, too. For instance, many pupils may have problems with their classmates.
This might involve bullying, like a classmate stealing their lunch, making fun of them for whatever reason, lying to them, and so on. Or maybe finding a way to work in a team while adjusting to the group and dealing with different personalities. Pupils could also struggle to balance their social life and the school requirements and tasks.
Certain educatees may struggle to determine when to ask their teacher for help and when to try to understand things on their own. Others may struggle to figure out what methods work for them best when studying for a test, and so on.
How to approach this?
If you’re a parent:
- What sort of problems does your child face at school? Do you discuss them openly?
- What do you think about parents that sweep their kids’ problems under the carpet? Is this doing anyone any good? Why? Why not?
- If your kid has a problem with some of their teachers, do you think you should get in the middle? In other words, do you need to intervene? Why? Why not? Have you ever been in this type of situation? If you have, what exactly happened? What was the problem between your kid and their teacher? How was the issue resolved? Did it involve other people?
- What would you do if your kid comes home from school, tells you they have a problem, and you try to help them, but then it turns out they were lying (for instance, your child told you another child bullied them, but in fact it was the other way around)? How would you handle this situation? Would you let it go and say to your kid something like “Don’t do this again”, or will you take this very seriously and explain why your kid shouldn’t lie and discuss some of the consequences they may face? Also, if something like this happens, would you doubt your kid in the future? Plus, would it make you think whether this is really the first time your kid lied to you?
- Let’s say you move your kid to another class, and they dislike their classmates and feel like the teachers aren’t inclined toward them. What would you do? Would you advise your child in any way? Would you talk to the teachers instead? Or perhaps you would leave your child to solve this issue on their own? Is it reasonable to expect a kid to solve this by themselves? Why? Why not?
- Have you ever thought your kid was making a big deal out of their problems? For instance, they might be having maths problems, they may not know how to write their English essay, or perhaps they struggle to understand their most recent physics lesson? Do you think these are common problems each kid faces at some point at school? Perhaps you feel they are exaggerating? Or maybe you’d take things seriously, and start looking for private tutors to help them with their homework (and you may offer help with subjects you feel you’re good at too)?
- How often do you and your partner discuss your kids’ school problems and any challenges they may be currently facing? Do you always see eye to eye? If you don’t, what seems to be the issue most of the time? How do you reach a compromise in the end?
If you’re a child*:
- When you have a problem at school, who’s the first person you talk to? Why them? And if you don’t talk to others about your problems, does that mean you handle them on your own? How so?
- Is it okay to break the rules sometimes and do things your way? Why? Why not? In general, how do you understand the concept of “breaking the rules”? If you’ve done this in the past, were you faced with some consequences? If you have, what were they?
- Have you ever missed an important deadline (it could be submitting an essay. homework, some sort of project, and so on)? If you have, what did you do? What was your teacher’s reaction?
- Were you ever in a situation where you had to solve a problem on behalf of the whole class? What was the situation about? What problem did you solve? What was your classmates’ reaction? Would you do things differently if you had another chance? Why? Why not?
- What would you do in the following situations:
- You go to take a shower after your basketball practice, but once you’re all dressed up and back in your locker room, you can’t seem to find your sneakers. What do you do?
- One of your classmates is very mean to you. They call you names, tease you, and bump into you on purpose when you walk by. You’re at the end of your tether. How can you handle this?
- You’re late for class (you wake up and realize your alarm never went off). However, you have an extremely important day at school and need to be there on time. What do you do?
- You’re taking a test and the classmate behind you asks for help. Would you help them? Why? Why not?
- You’re raising your hand because you want to ask a question, but the teacher doesn’t seem to notice you. What would you do?
- Your teacher gives instructions, but the classmate next to you can’t stop talking, so you don’t hear anything the teacher says. What would you do?
- You’re waiting to be picked up after school, but your mom doesn’t seem to come although you’ve been waiting for some time now. What do you do?
- A bully says they’ll beat you up after school. What would you do?
- You’re doing an activity in class, but aren’t sure if you’re doing it right. What do you do?
- You’re on the bus heading toward school and on the way you notice people laughing at you. Once you get to the school, you go to the bathroom and you notice there’s a pink gum on the back of your pants. What do you do?
*Here we invite you to ask your kid to join you in this section, and ask them to answer the questions we’ve provided. For an even more interactive experience, we suggest that you discuss the questions together, and reflect upon the answers.
“I forgot to bring my jacket, and now I’m cold.”
“I didn’t take my sunglasses.”
“He took my ball and now he’s not returning it.”
“I can’t find my phone.”
These are just a small number of statements that parents hear on a daily basis. And while there’s nothing wrong with them, what matters is how you, as a parent, respond to them.
Put simply, are you encouraging your kids to solve their problems by persuading them to think for themselves, or are you the one solving their issues? In essence, are you trying to raise independent thinkers, problem solvers, and decision makers, or are you raising unproductive and indecisive individuals?
We hope it’s the former. But a lot of parents aren’t sure how to approach it. For instance, their kid will approach them and tell them that someone took their ball and now they don’t want to return it. And so, as their parent, you might go and talk to that kid or even to that kid’s parent(s) in order to solve the issue (that is, to return the ball).
But what would be the right thing to do?, you may wonder. Well, it’s good for a child to learn to stand up for themselves and express their views freely. In essence, your kid walking up to the kid who took their ball can do wonders for your child’s confidence.
Also, if your child struggles to find their phone, a common thing parents do is the following: they either yell at their kid for seemingly losing their phone all the time or they search for it themselves. A logical thing here would be to ask: “Do you remember where you saw it last?”, “Why do you think you can’t find your phone all the time?”, “Don’t you think you should put it in a more visible place in the future?”, “Do you think complaining each time you can’t find your phone would help you to actually find it?”, “What can you do about it now?”, and so on.
Such scenarios and problems may come across as funny, however, they’re far from unreal or illogical. In fact, the most common problems children face on a daily basis resemble the examples we just gave.
The problems, no matter how naive they appear to be at first, help children work on several key problem-solving strategies, skills, and methods, such as:
- lateral thinking;
- analytical thinking;
- logical reasoning;
- persuasion and persistence;
- taking initiative;
- communication and negotiation.
On the whole, when you see your kid struggling to resolve an issue or they come running to you to solve it - you don’t have to abandon them or refuse to help them. However, you should help as implicitly as you can rather than explicitly.
This requires asking your kid a lot of questions, prompting them to make informed decisions, as well as encouraging them to stand up for what they believe in. In essence, you’re supposed to be guiding them, while at the same time allowing them to actively sort out their issues, and not rely on you at all times.
How to approach this?
If you’re a parent:
- How can you teach your child to weigh both the pros and the cons before making an important decision?
- Do you believe sometimes there’s an opportunity in a potential problem? In other words, can anything good come out of a problem? If you’re able to see this, but your kid isn’t, how can you make them understand it?
- Have you ever helped your kid make a decision, but it turned out to be the wrong decision? If you have, what was the decision about? How did you feel afterward? What did your kid say? Did this situation change the relationship between you two? If yes, in what way? Do you think your kid was a bit reluctant to ask for advice after this?
- How can you explain to your kid that even parents make mistakes? How can children understand that adults aren’t flawless? Would you ask your partner to talk to them and explain some things on your behalf? Why? Why not? What approach is the “right” one?
- How can children handle problems when they’re caught off guard? How can they remain stable and calm in such situations?
- How aware is your kid about the consequences that come with each decision they make and every problem they try to solve in life? In other words, are they conscious enough to understand that their decisions and problems have an impact on the people around them? If they’re not, how can you make them much more aware? What is it that you can do? Or perhaps you believe this is something they should learn on their own?
- When your child seems passive or disinterested to make changes in their life and handle certain problems, do you think it’s useful to ask some of the following questions?
- How are you getting in your own way with your current behavior?
- Where would such passivity take you?
- Why do you prolong making the changes you know are absolutely necessary?
- When would be a good time to talk about _____________ (whatever problem is up for a debate at this moment)?
- Let’s assume you’re an expert in the area of your current issue - what advice would you give yourself? Why? How can you make sure you apply that piece of advice?
- What’s something you’ve done in the past that would work in this situation?
- What’s good about the current situation you’re in? How can you make it better?
- Out of all the problems you may be facing, which one is the biggest? Why? Why does it seem to bother you so much?
- What are some specific outcomes you expect to gain from dealing with this issue?
- How do you feel about the current problems in your life? Hopeless? Sad? Dissatisfied? Anxious? Why? How can you help yourself?
- What can I do to help you with the problem?
- What can I do to help you feel better?
If you’re a child*:
- What’s the most creative solution you’ve ever thought of? What was it about? How did you come up with it? Did you have to ask for help or all of it was your own creation?
- How do you make decisions? Can you walk us through the process and describe the steps you usually take before coming to a conclusion? Have you ever used a different approach? Why? Why not? If you have, what did you learn from that experience?
- Think about a time when you needed to change your planned course of action at the last moment. What happened? How do you feel about last minute changes? What was the outcome? Is it easy to make decisions under such pressure? Why? Why not? If the same happens in the future, will you be able to cope with such a situation?
- Let’s say you need to make a decision, but you don’t have all the information you need. What do you do? How will you approach the issue at hand?
- How can you know for sure you’ve resolved an issue? What are some indicators?
- How do you take responsibility for the problems in your life?
- What happens if a problem comes back, or you simply find yourself in a similar situation?
- How much do you use your imagination and instinct when you need to solve a problem? Are they more important than rational thinking? Why? Why not? How can you combine both?
- Do you ever avoid solving your problems? Why?
- What’s the biggest problem you’ve had so far in your life? Why did you choose that one? How did you solve it?
- Are you judgmental toward yourself when you make some bad decisions? Why?
- Do you believe each problem has a solution? Why? Why not? Can you think of something unsolvable?
- Before you resolve a problem once and for all, which of the following questions do you ask yourself?
- On the whole, how do I feel about the current solution?
- What are the pros and what are the cons of this solution?
- How does this solution affect others in the long-run?
- How will it affect me?
- How much time and effort does this solution require from my side? Can I commit fully to it?
- What will I do if my solution doesn’t work out?
- Can I come up with a much better one? If I can, what do I need to do?
- Should I have several options instead of focusing on a single solution? Why? Why not? What are the benefits of having several options as opposed to one?
- How can I make sure I carry out my plan the way I envisioned? What may go wrong while executing the solution? How can I prepare better?
- Is my solution realistic? How can I tell?
- How subjective am I when it comes to my solution? Perhaps I should check what others have to say about it before I finalize my solution? Is there anything I don’t know? What can I double check to make sure I’m on the right track with my solution?
- Is there anything I should have considered, but I haven’t (yet)? Why?
- How can I reward myself in the end?
- What did this specific problem-solving experience teach me?
- What can I do next time to make things even better?
* Repeat the instructions from above.
Kids’ problem-solving skills within the context of relationships evolve as children themselves mature, and with that their connections and interactions expand and develop too. However, for many kids such problems may be a challenge.
After all, it’s one thing for kids to handle their own problems (such as finding their socks, forgetting to bring their homework at school, or losing the money their grandma gave them for Christmas), but things are a bit different when there’s another individual on the receiving end. Put simply, certain problems can’t be fully resolved until both parties address them.
And that’s what makes interpersonal relationships the most rewarding connections in life, as well as the most challenging.
So, what problems may kids face within their most intimate connections? Well, such problems can range from kids getting in a fight with their classmates or competing who has the better smartphone, to children fighting with their siblings and rebelling against their parents, teachers, grandparents, and so on.
In general, there are many reasons for kids to find themselves in a conflicting situation with another individual (regardless of whether that individual is the same age as them or younger/older).
So, problems are inevitable, however, solutions are within reach, so parents shouldn't fear. It’s all about preparing and helping kids make the right choices and think of the possible solutions.
Helping your kids address such problems
Here are some of the ways you can achieve that:
- Tell your kids it’s okay to say “No.” They have the right to walk away from situations and people that don’t resonate with their characters.
- Explain to your kids that sometimes they may not get along with others, which doesn’t mean they’re bad friends or that there’s something wrong with them. It’s just life, and sometimes they’ll click with certain people, and won’t get along with others.
- Encourage your kids to be consistent and reliable. If they say they’ll be somewhere on time, tell them they should be on time. If they say they’ll call someone, explain to them why it matters that they keep their promise and call the person.
- Tell them that being sensitive toward other people's feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. On the contrary - it shows empathy and compassion.
- Tell them that even when they’re arguing with someone, they should remain fair and defend their view and opinion with arguments and facts, and not offend the other person or simply provide subjective remarks.
- Best of all, be a role model for your kid.
Finally, as problems with others are a way for adults to grow and learn more about themselves and the people that surround them, we can say that the same applies to children too. In other words, certain problems come into their lives not only to cause chaos or break the bonds they’ve built with others so far, but to help them mature and take their relationships to the next level.
How to approach this?
If you’re a parent:
- How would you explain the following problems to your kid:
- domestic violence;
- intimacy issues;
- verbal abuse;
- communication problems;
- and substance abuse?
- Do you think these are problems kids should be familiarized with at a specific age? Or is it better to discuss them a bit later on in life once they’ve matured properly? Why? Why not?
- Can kids be traumatized if they’re exposed to individuals who deal with such problems? Or perhaps these are experiences that can help children grow as individuals and make different decisions for themselves (rather than perpetuate such toxic patterns)?
- How can you make sure your child doesn’t grow into a conflicting individual who always fights with people and is constantly misunderstood? Also, how do you bring up a child who takes into consideration other people’s feelings and personal situations when they make decisions? Put simply, how do you ensure your kid is empathic enough?
- Do you notice any pattern when it comes to how your child manages their interpersonal relationships? For instance, they’re always the ones who initiate things, or perhaps they always do what the others seem to suggest?
- Does your child apologize when they make a mistake? If they don’t, how do you react to it? In other words, have you ever explained to them why saying sorry matters? Also, if you’re the one who’s made a mistake, will you apologize to your kid? Why? Why not? Does acknowledging our mistakes help us build stronger relationships with other people? How so?
- Has your child ever felt hurt or betrayed by their friend or perhaps a family member? How did they handle the situation? What advice did you give your kid about such situations? Did this change the way your kid perceived these people? Also, has this event made your child distrustful of people?
- If your kid is full of anger, disappointment, and frustration, where should one look for the root cause for these feelings? Could it be that the kid is being bullied and teased at school? Perhaps they feel neglected at home? Maybe they feel inferior for some reason? Has your child exhibited such feelings? If they have, what was the reason behind them? How did you help them overcome them?
- Is it okay if parents look for professional help if they notice their kid has trouble communicating with others or engaging in social interactions? Should the child work directly with an expert or is it better if you advise them? Why? Why not? If it was your child - would they reject the idea of talking to a professional? How would you explain to them that this can be a very useful experience rather than a negative one?
- How can you encourage your kid to be themselves when interacting with others? Can they get into trouble for always expressing their thoughts and opinions freely? Why? Why not? What problems might they end up facing?
If you’re a child*:
- Do you make a lot of assumptions about people, and tend to judge them before you actually get to really know them? Why? Have you tried changing this? Why is this problematic?
- Can you solve other people’s problems? Why? Why not? What can you do instead to help them?
- Do you ask for other people’s advice when you struggle with a decision or an issue you have? Do you apply the advice you get? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten so far? Who was it from? What was it about?
- What’s the best thing about being close with another person? What makes people so special in our lives? Would you say that being surrounded by loyal and positive people makes our problems seem smaller, and sometimes even insignificant? How so?
- What does a fair decision mean to you? How can you make sure your decisions and solutions don’t hurt other people? For instance, let’s imagine your best friend wants you to go with them to the newest James Bond movie premiere. You’re not really fond of the James Bond movies, but you made a promise, and you’re going to do it for your best friend. In the meantime, another friend calls you to invite you to an important football match. They already have tickets, and all you need to do is simply accept the offer. However, the match and the movie premiere are at the same time. You really want to go to the football match, but you know you made a promise. What do you do? How do you solve this challenge? More importantly, how can you make sure everyone’s happy with the outcome?
- Do you ever blame others for some bad solutions you may have opted for? Why? Do you think you may risk losing an important friendship or a connection in your life because of bad decisions?
- On the other hand, have you ever noticed that making informed decisions and choosing smart solutions brought you closer to some people? In other words, has something like this strengthened your interpersonal relations?
* Repeat the instructions from above.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I know if my kid is a good problem solver?
There isn’t a test to check how your kid deals with every problematic situation in life, however, based on their behavior and what you’ve observed so far, you may come up with some credible conclusions.
So, here are some brief explanations which may help you determine whether your kid is a good problem solver or not:
- They know how to define their problem;
- They’re able to come up with several solutions for a single problem;
- Your kid knows how to select the right solution and evaluate the rest of them;
- They understand how to implement the solution and follow up on the whole situation;
- They face any potential consequences in a mature manner;
- Your child comprehends how to use this experience for future situations and how to make things work even better next time.
How can I help my child face their problems and stop avoiding conflict?
Neither adults nor kids like to face their problems or deal with conflict. Yet, the more we try to avoid them, the more they seem to appear. So, it may be easier to understand both problems and conflicts as a normal occurrence within our daily lives rather than resisting them.
Because no matter how hard you try to lead a problem-free and a conflictless life, you can bet they’ll pop up one way or another.
Dealing with our problems and handling various conflicts is a sign of maturity and emotional intelligence, as well as an opportunity to grow further as a person.
And this, as we mentioned, includes kids too.
So, if you have a kid who’s struggling to resolve their problems and avoids conflicting situations because they can’t confront others, what can you do? How can you help your kid transcend their fears?
First and foremost, help your kid understand the source of the problem or the reason for the conflict. What seems to be the problem? Why is this happening now? What’s causing this issue? Discussing these things can help your kid open up to the possibility of resolving their issues.
Make sure they understand that ignoring the problem won’t make it go away - it will only make things worse in the long-run. Once they seem willing to collaborate, help them brainstorm solutions.
Also, practice effective communication. Encourage them to talk to you about the struggles they’re facing. Make them feel safe, and help then comprehend that dealing with their conflict doesn’t have to be a daunting task - it’s part of everyday life.
Suggestions for Further Reading
Books may not help your child solve all their problems, but they can definitely show them the ways in which they can start addressing them in the most creative way possible - through fiction and amazingly crafted stories (with the exception of the twelfth book, which isn’t quite fiction)!
So, here are our recommendations:
- Solutions for Cold Feet and Other Little Problems, by Carey Sookocheff
- Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers
- What Do You Do With A Problem?, by Kobi Yamada
- The Boy and the Airplane, by by Mark Pett
- Going Places, by Paul A. Reynolds and Peter H. Reynolds
- Problem Solving Ninja: A STEM Book for Kids About Becoming a Problem Solver (Ninja Life Hacks), by Mary Nhin
- The Big Ideas of Buster Bickles, by Dave Wasson
- The Whale in My Swimming Pool, by Joyce Wan
- Dough Knights and Dragons, by Dee Leone
- How the ladies stopped the wind, by Bruce McMillan
- I Want It, by Elizabeth Crary
- Problem Solving Skills for Children Ages 5-12, by Jennifer Youngs
- Stone Soup with Matzoh Balls: A Passover Tale in Chelm, by Linda Glaser
- A Day With No Crayons, by Elizabeth Rusch
- Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, by Chris Grabenstein
A Little Something for You Before You Go….
Here at Skill Sprout, we’re not only committed to helping children, but assisting adult learners, too! Apart from also providing courses for adults, we use this section to engage you with our selection of empowering quotes about the problem-solving process, to invite you to think even deeper about this subject. We have several questions under each quote to assist you with this.
- “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don't just stick there scowling at the problem. But don't make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people's words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
What do you do when you get stuck trying to solve a problem? What helps you? Have you tried any of the above-mentioned suggestions? Has any of them ever worked for you? How do you understand the part “other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be”? Is it about not allowing other people’s suggestions and thoughts to intervene with yours or is it something else? Also, what advice would you give to your kid if they’re the ones struggling to solve their own problem? What “method” would you suggest?
- “Solving a problem for which you know there’s an answer is like climbing a mountain with a guide, along a trail someone else has laid. In mathematics, the truth is somewhere out there in a place no one knows, beyond all the beaten paths. And it’s not always at the top of the mountain. It might be in a crack on the smoothest cliff or somewhere deep in the valley.”
What do you think about the mountain metaphor? Does it truly explain the process of solving problems in an accurate and understandable manner? Why? Why not? What does it say about arriving at a definite answer, or having an adequate solution to a problem you’ve been contemplating for quite some time? How would you explain this quote to your kid in a more simple way? What words and phrases would you use? Also, would you stick with the same metaphor?
- “We always hope for the easy fix: the one simple change that will erase a problem in a stroke. But few things in life work this way. Instead, success requires making a hundred small steps go right - one after the other, no slipups, no goofs, everyone pitching in.”
How do you feel about easy fixes? Have they proven to work in real life? Why? Why not? What approach should you adopt instead? Do you agree with the “hundred small steps” suggestion? What about your child? Have you observed how they approach solving their problems? Are they on the lookout for easy fixes? If they are, and you disagree with it, do you think you should intervene? Or perhaps you should let them learn some things on their own time?
- “It's so much easier to suggest solutions when you don't know too much about the problem.”
Is this true? Why? Why not? Can we say that this usually applies to situations when others are trying to help us, and yet because they don’t really know a lot about our problem, they end up making this worse? Why? Why not? Do you have another interpretation of this? If yes, what is it? Also, how do you understand “to suggest solutions”? Is it just random ways that the problem can be handles, long brainstorming sessions, or something else?
- “A critic looking at these tightly focused, targeted interventions might dismiss them as Band-Aid solutions. But that phrase should not be considered a term of disparagement. The Band-Aid is an inexpensive, convenient, and remarkably versatile solution to an astonishing array of problems. In their history, Band-Aids have probably allowed millions of people to keep working or playing tennis or cooking or walking when they would otherwise have had to stop. The Band-Aid solution is actually the best kind of solution because it involves solving a problem with the minimum amount of effort and time and cost.”
How would you define such “band-aid solutions” in your own words? How does it differ from the easy fix solutions (if it differs at all)? What’s your take on it? Can you think of a situation in your life where you required such a metaphorical band-aid? What happened? What did you decide? How did you resolve the issue? Finally, did the “band-aid” prove to be truly useful? Why? Why not?
- “A self-confident person is often a good problem solver and stress manager, self-reflective and able to clearly observe, articulate, and take ownership of his faults and vulnerabilities. Because self-confident people have a wellformed sense of identity and values, they do not feel the need to disrespect other people, because they know who they are and do not feel threatened by other people or their views.”
- Do you think of yourself as a self-confident person? Why? Why not? What qualities and skills are you most proud of? Do you think they help you make better decisions and solve problems much more easily? Can you identify some shortcomings you may have? What are they? Also, are you working on overcoming them? If yes, how? Are they currently affecting any areas of your life in a negative way? If they do, how?
“When faced with a problem, as long as you find a suitable solution for the current situation, you will continue to flow successfully in the river of life!”
Do you agree with this quote? Why? Why not? Does it sound too easy or gullible? Or perhaps this is exactly what you believe to be true? Do we always need to find suitable solutions for our current problems in order to “flow successfully in the river of life”? Can we sometimes make bad decisions, and yet remain successful in our endeavors? Why? Why not? Finally, would you teach your kid that they always need to solve their issues and problems, or that every once in a while it’s okay to struggle with some decisions and possibly have to take a step back and reevaluate the problem a bit deeper?
- “The real function of some solutions is to create or perpetuate a problem.”
How can some solutions create further problems? Is it when we make bad decisions and then we end up with more problems than we initially had? Or perhaps it refers to people who unnecessarily wish to complicate their lives by prolonging coming up with solutions and so this ends up affecting other areas in their lives?
All in all, problem-solving skills in children are needed now more than ever. And as parents are becoming increasingly aware of this, we need more tools and methods to help them.
One such tool we provide is informal education (hint: it’s some of the best tools out there). More specifically, we offer online courses. So, what can you expect if you decide to enroll your child in our online course about problem solving? Or should we say: what can your kid expect from our course?
Well, by joining our very detailed course, your kid will learn all about:
- the different types of problems they might face;
- devising strategies to overcome those problems;
- how to brainstorm in an effective manner;
- developing a growth mindset;
- becoming aware of the consequences of their decisions (which is something that’s often neglected in real life);
- how to get better at tackling problems;
- how to gain the confidence they need to move forward in life and handle the obstacles life throws at them;
- accept failure in a gracious way (in essence, learn from the experience, without being discouraged).
On the whole, our courses are aimed at children who can do so much more than they’re given at school, and kids who wish to express their creativity and critical minds in a safe and accepted way. Put simply, they’re for children who wish to impact other children in a positive and meaningful manner.
And if you’re here reading this, your kid is probably one of them.
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