Teaching Problem Solving Skills to Children - Methods and Techniques
By Andrew Loh
Training your children towards solving problems is an intelligent
task. It is a painstaking process that takes some time to make your
children adept at the skills of problem solving. However, it is a
worthwhile task that provides your children an opportunity to
develop a wholesome personality. Teaching the basic aspects of
problem solving is an exciting event that provides both you and your
children some thrilling moments. While there are no specially
designed methods that you can use to teach your children problem
solving skills, there are a number of useful techniques and methods
that are simple and effective. Using such methods will make your
children learn about basics of problem solving.
One of the most important techniques that you can teach your
children is to let them know what a problem is and how they can
understand it. For an adult, this may look like common sense, but
for a child understanding a problem itself could be a big problem.
Your children may make lot of mistakes, while they are learning
problem solving skills. In fact, there is nothing wrong in making
mistakes. We have all done it in our life. The first thing that you
should is to teach your children how to handle mistakes and most
common blunders. When your children keep trying, they will
eventually find solutions to any dicey problems. Children who are
good at solving problems are not afraid of making any mistakes. They
may make a number of mistakes until they find solutions to problems.
Mistakes and blunders are the foundation stones that will allow your
children solve problems that they encounter in their life.
Teaching problem solving skills to your children depends largely on
your child's behavior and temperament. Not all methods are suitable
for your children. Some methods work very well for your child, while
others may not be suitable. However, your child can easily learn any
technique you prescribe and suggest, because their young mind is
ready to learn new things and fresh techniques.
Here are some simple methods and techniques to help you train your
children problem solving techniques:
Observe and accumulate detailed information about a situation:
When you reserve some time to look at the existing problem, you can
easily learn a lot about your children present problem solving
abilities. The main goal of this step is to check whether your
children have the ability to solve problems on their own. With this
step, you can also get clues about methods to train your children
find a solution to the existing problem.
You can ask a series of questions to your children to cull
additional details about the problem. For example, you can ask the
following sensitive questions to your children, when they are facing
a problematic situation.
Mom to her daughter: What is happening? Why do you look so tense?
Daughter to mom: I don't know. I do not know what to do!
Mom to daughter: Why do you think so? Why do you say this?
Now, the daughter will start complaining about the problem she is
facing. The answer could be just a plain complaint or a simple I
With this simple exercise, you can learn how your children initially
respond to an existing problem and to check if the situation demands
your active involvement.
Assist your children know the problem and tell more about it to
you: When you ask simple questions to your child, you can help
them detect and identify the actual problem. It takes some time for
your children to involve themselves in problem solving scenarios.
However, your children can easily apply their minds to the problem
solving exercise. They feel very confident that you are there to
help them in the process.
Mom to daughter: Why do you think you say that? I am your mom! I can
help you solve your problem.
Daughter to mom: I just can't draw this figure
Mom to daughter: Why do you feel so? Is it tough?
Daughter to mom: Yes! I feel so angry!
Now, you know why the girl is so anxious and angry. She cannot draw
that figure and that is giving her some problem.
Discuss about solutions to the underlying problem: This is a
critical step of teaching problem solving skills. You may wish to
provide some simple solutions to solve the problems. Alternatively,
you can suggest different ways of solving that problem. However,
make sure that you are not doing your children's work on your own.
Let them do it!
Mom to daughter: What do you think you should now?
Daughter to mom: I should draw it now. However, I do not know how!
Mom to daughter: Let me tell you how to draw it. Will you draw the
figure now? Before I tell you, I want to know your own ideas. Please
tell me how you can draw it.
Daughter to mom: Yes!
In this scenario, you can see that the mom is reassuring her
daughter that she is there to help her. At the same time, she is
also urging her daughter to do the work on her own, by seeking ideas
from her. At this time, the mom will listen to her daughter and her
ideas, and later try to suggest her some solutions. Children will
try to develop their reasoning power apart from learning how to find
solutions to problems.
Assist children to decide on a series of solutions to try and
adapt: As far as possible, parents may wish to explore different
solutions to a given problem. Reviewing solutions to a given problem
will help children know and assess different solutions to different
problems. Exploring problems and later finding a solution will help
children streamline their brain to think about problem solving, in a
simple and judicious manner. The most important question that your
children must ask their mind is very simple and straightforward: What
is the best and simple way to fix this problem?
Your inputs are very precious for your children. With the right type
of inputs, they will feel confident, bold and innovative while
solving problems. When your children give some ideas, they may ask
you which solutions they should try. More often, this is the time
they would like their parents' active intervention. Focusing on
problem solving skills will help your children learn the most
judicious and simple ways of solving any problems.
Problem solving can be active as well as passive. In a passive model
of solving problem, children will observe their elders and other
seniors for learning problem solving skills. They try to find out
some basic models after watching their elders and other siblings. On
the other hand, active mode of solving problems will involve solving
multiple problems at the same time. For example, your children may
have a series of problems that need to be solved at the same time.
Let us say that you have the following tasks in your hand.
Go to library to pick some books for your child
Fill up gas in your car and hence go to a gas station
Buy some groceries at a grocery shop
Go to the park and play for some time.
Note: Library is far away from your home, while gas
station, grocery shop and the park are in between the library and
Now, you may wish to ask your child where they should go first. Your
child may give some answers which may be right or wrong. Do not
bother about the quality of answers your child has just provided.
Answer to yourself in a loud voice in the following manner:
The library is farthest from our home. Next, is the grocery
store and the gas station, while the park is the nearest to our
house. Hence, I will go to the library first, pick up some books,
drive back and fill up gas in the gas station, buy groceries in the
grocery store, and finally go to the park, which is nearest to our
This self talk will spur your child into instant action, because you
have given him or her some clues to solve the underlying problem.
With these simple methods, you are teaching your child how to solve
simple problems that occur every day and hour. Problem solving is a
simple process. Every problem has a series of solutions. Your
children should know how to evaluate a problem, scrutinize different
solutions and use the one that is suitable for solving the problem.
As a parent, you can help your children achieve these simple