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 her what to do. Instead, act as a coach helping guide her through the process. Remember that problem-solving is a skill that many tweens and teens need to be explicitly taught and, like a muscle, can be strengthened with repeated use.
What you can say
“Sofia, you seem to get very anxious before you need to go to a family function. If we could identify what bothers you about the situation, I’ll bet we could figure out some strategies to make you feel more comfortable.”
“Why do you think being around our extended family makes you uncomfortable? Is it the number of people? Are there certain activities that bother you? Or certain relatives? Do you feel pressured to make conversation? Do you feel like they’re judging you?”
“Think about it, and when you’re ready, let’s sit down and start to work on some possible solutions.”
Why this will help
Identifying the problem is a good first step. Doing this will validate your child’s concerns and help her understand the issues so she can start to develop possible solutions. Try as much as possible to see if your child can come up with useful strategies. Practicing responses together will also help.