As a parent, we want our kids to be smart, intelligent and self-reliant. In a fast moving world like today, if your child is dependent on others to solve problems, he or she is going to be left behind. Being self-reliant and having the confidence to face any problem is the need of the hour. And we as parents or educators, need to ensure that our children inculcate problem solving skills from the very beginning. We cannot always be available to solve their issues. In fact, we shouldn’t be. If we come to aid every time, they will never learn to do it themselves.
Be it a simple conflict between siblings or friends, math problems, negative peer pressure, or any other problem, kids of every age face challenges on a daily basis. In situations like these, if the child is not confident enough to analyse the problem and find a solution to it, it can be discouraging for them. If children are feeling complex about not being confident like other kids or running to their parents for every little problem, this is not just dangerous for their mental being, but also has a strong impact on the type of adults they grow up to be.
Below are a few quick tips to teach your child to become a problem solver.
A 2010 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that children who lack problem-solving skills may be at increased risk for depression and suicide. What’s more, researchers have found that teaching a child problem-solving skills can improve their mental health. Every child should have these problem solving skills because when they face a challenging situation, they should not be afraid of it. Instead of running away from the problem, the child should have the confidence to solve it. Also, problem solving skills help them to:
- Manage their emotions
- Think practically
- Be able to analyse any situation
- Understand the difference between what’s right and wrong
- Think creatively and
- Be persistent until they find a solution.
So now the question is how to teach problem solving skills to your children?
It depends on the age of the child. As a child’s cognitive abilities and the magnitude of the challenges grow or change with growing years, their approach to solve the problems also evolve. Another important thing to keep in mind, as a parent or educator, is to make room for your child. No matter how old the kids are, let them make mistakes and teach them how to move on. Some of the basic tips that you can use to teach your child to be a problem solver are as follows.
To get started, let your child believe that it is ok to make mistakes. Just the fear of doing something that might result in a mistake should not discourage them from making decisions. When faced with a real challenge, help your child to think out the problem out loud. And then try explaining to them what you would have done in this situation. Do not force your solutions on them, just give them a clue to what the solution could be or what you would have decided if you were in their place.
Explain to the child to first identify what exactly is the problem. When they form a clear picture of the problem and discover its roots, the job is almost half done. Often, they feel confused and stuck as to what is bothering them. A sense of clarity is extremely beneficial for problem solving.
Being self-reliant and confident is very good. But also explain to the kids that there is nothing wrong with asking for advice or help. In fact, you can also sometimes ask for their advice. Firstly, it will help them understand that anyone can make mistakes. Secondly, it gives them a chance to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and practice problem solving. Moreover, if they provide genuine and sensible solutions that you implement later in life, it would give them immense confidence to solve their own problems smoothly.
It is very natural for parents to reach out to their children if they see them struggling in any way, but sometimes there is a need to allow them to go through big changes while struggling. You need to allow your child to fail and learn from the experiences and consequences. Sometimes the problem is too big for them to solve on their own. In such situations, break the problem down into smaller steps, help them understand, and ask questions that can lead to a solution.
There is a great emotional charge that we all carry within us. First of all, it is important that you tell your child that all of their emotions are absolutely valid and acceptable. Once they have learned to manage their emotions, only then can they consider logical solutions. All emotions are valid and should never be dismissed, what matters is how we react to those emotions.
The above tips will help you to teach your child to become a problem solver. We adopt these methods at Kumon as well. The Kumon method of learning is designed, keeping in mind every child’s needs and potential. We understand that every child is different and needs a different approach. Therefore, Kumon after school programs are designed to instigate the self-learning process in each child and groom them to become independent and confident individuals.