Provide opportunities for your child to make decisions and solve problems. Problem-solving is a skill that many kids need to be explicitly taught and, like a muscle, can be strengthened with repeated use.
Use real-life situations to teach and practice the five major steps of problem-solving. First, identify the problem. Then brainstorm solutions. Evaluate the pros and cons of the different options, including the consequences of each. Then try out the best solution. And, last but not least, evaluate whether it was successful. This last step is very important. It will help your child learn from his mistakes.
Try to avoid telling him what to do. Instead, act as a coach helping guide your child through the process. Consider using role-playing with your child to show him the steps involved in problem-solving.
What you can say
“Jacob, I understand why you got upset when you were playing with Carlos and he wouldn’t share his toys with you. Let’s figure out together what you could do when something like that happens again.”
“Can you think of something to say to Carlos to let him know how you feel? That’s good. We can practice saying that so you don’t forget. Is there something you could do with your toys to encourage Carlos to share? You’re coming up with some good ideas!”
“Let’s see how Carlos responds when you say that to him. If this solves the problem, great! If not, we can think some more on what else you could do to help.”
Why this will help
When children learn problem-solving skills, they gain confidence in their ability to make decisions for themselves. This can boost their self-esteem.
For kids with learning and attention issues, practicing problem-solving skills at home can help them develop the language they need to resolve conflicts. It can also prepare them to self-advocate in school as well as in social settings.