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Problem Solving Skills with Children Two to Eight - Part II

By Andrew Loh


Children aged between two and eight are extremely sensitive and highly emotional. A majority of children belonging to this group are fickle minded as well! In fact, it is almost impossible for them to think and act in a meaningful manner; most of them are still immature in their thinking and grasping abilities. Most children the age group mentioned above are intensely biased and one sided. Under such a scenario, it is natural for them to respond in an extreme manner to all problematic situations. Problems come naturally to your children. In essence, an average child will have more than 15 to 20 instances of problematic situations everyday.

For most parents, managing their children often becomes a big challenge and a dicey work. When children bring a big baggage of problems on a consistent basis, parents can become nervous and frustrated very easily. Thus, parents must try to diffuse those stress situations when their children start facing problematic situations. Learning to solve problems is possibly the only method that can help parents help their children.

Problem solving with your children aged two to eight involves a number of simple techniques and methods. When you learn and master these methods, you can assist your children think in an objective manner to solve pending problems. Problem solving is actually a state of mind and your children will transform their innate behavior in a calibrated manner to find solutions to complex problems. Here are some basic methods and techniques that every parent can use to solve problems with their children:

Problem solving is a mind game: Problem solving with your children involves a series of tricky mind games that attempt to manipulate your child's basic behavior. This involves transforming your child's irrational or unacceptable behavior to a more rational or acceptable one. Let us consider this example:

Scene: Your child is demanding with you to allow him or her to watch TV until late in the evening. You are not accepting his demands and you are flatly refusing to allow him or her to watch TV. This denial may make your child angry and aggressive. As a result, your child may show a number of unacceptable behaviors like fighting, shouting or even crying. Under normal circumstances, there may be a situation of conflict between you and your child.

Possible scenarios: Out of anger, your child may show a number of tantrums while you may also become angry and punish your child to make him or her accept your instructions and demands. However, when you punish your child, you are inadvertently raising the tempo of conflicts with out your knowledge. Obviously, this is a negative scenario for both you and your child.

Problem solving techniques: Broadly, any problem solving technique designed for parents involves a series of steps and techniques. Here are some of those steps and techniques:

Start mediation or begin problem solving: Before starting mediation, you will need to know the source of problem. You may need to tackle the source of conflict first before hoping to find a solution. In the example stated above, the source of the conflict is watching TV late into the evening. Next, your child is angry and frustrated because you are not allowing him or her to watch TV late into the evening. Now, you can easily define the problem! Just find out the source of the conflict to zero in on the problem.

Every problem has an alternative solution that can be as good as the original problem if not good. Brainstorming is very essential to find out alternative solutions for any given problem. In our example, you will need to find an alternative solution to the main problem, which is watching TV late into the evening. You may have several options and alternatives for your child. Now, the most important issue is to arrive at a mutually agreeable solution that satisfies you and your child's egos. In our example, you may suggest a number of alternatives like:

  • Finish off the homework first before watching the TV.

  • Play some board or strategy games with you instead of TV.

  • Agree to a cut off time at which your child will agree to switch off the TV.

Tips: Make sure that you are dousing the bout of anger in your child. Problem solving techniques begin when you and your child start talking to each other. Always look at your child's eyes while talking. Make sure that you are at your child's eye level; squat, kneel or sit with your child while talking. As far as possible, never talk to your child while standing as this could act as an intimidating behavior that might even lead to escalation of conflict. Be firm but act with humaneness. You are here to solve your child's problems and not to escalate it.

Caution:

  • Young children cannot focus easily on two things at a time such as fighting for TV time and problem solving.

  • In all probability, you can witness lot of resistance or defiance from your child.

  • This perceived defiance may linger for sometime until your child starts seeing the logic behind problem solving.

  • You will need to make sure that your child is verbalizing his or her feelings. Once they verbalize their feelings, they can easily focus on analyzing and solving the problem.

  • Considering that your young child is still selfish and egocentric, it is not surprising that the initial round of negotiations always involves your child suggesting that he or she will have the last say in the issue.

Problem solving is a two-way traffic; it always involves a give and take policy when both your and your child arrives at an alternative solution that is acceptable to both. Problem solving is also a continuous technique and it is a slow and gradual process until your child starts to think in a rational and thinking manner. Instances of disagreement are very common while you are trying to solve problems. However, make sure that you are closing the problem as quickly as possible to allow your child to focus on other activities. The most important objective of these exercises is to make your child understand that solving problem is a very important activity and that is easy to solve problem with a rational and thinking mind. Read Problem Solving Skills with Children Two to Eight - Part I here!



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