Child Problem Solving

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So there’s two different consequences from one solution: I feel better, but then, I also have to think that these people don’t want to be my friends, and now I am going to feel crummy that nobody wants to be my friend.” That seems obvious to adults with fully-formed prefrontal cortices, who perform those calculations so frequently and so quickly it barely registers.

But these implications are not evident to small children, whose brains are still developing (and will be into their early twenties.) Parents can introduce these ideas into a disagreement or discussion, but it’s best to pick the battle.

Researchers have found that a child's ability to deal with conflict in an acceptable manner is directly related to the number of solutions or alternatives the child has.

Avoid the temptation of just telling them what to do. When children are upset, fighting, angry or hurt, first find out the details.

Problem solving with children can be a tedious process but it allows children to gain experience in thinking and making decisions on their own.

Children see things primarily from their own perspective. Help them to evaluate the consequences of their ideas. If they choose an alternative you think will not work, be sure they know what to do next.“Basically, if parents do the problem solving for their children, that becomes a learned helplessness that follows them, and whenever they encounter a problem they immediately assume that somebody else is going to solve it for them,” explains Alison Kennedy, Ed. “As they start to get older and older, through elementary school and middle school and even high school, kids suffer from this learned helplessness, and any problem they encounter they assume most of the time that a parent is going to swoop in and solve.”As a result of this learned helplessness, kids struggle with advocating for themselves or resolving minor peer conflicts.Small or normally inconsequential problems can become insurmountable, even into .This can cause tension and dysfunction in family relationships, peer relationships, romantic relationships, academic or professional settings – any place where differences of opinion exist and compromises will need to be met.So what exactly is the problem-solving skills kids need to be taught?But when everyone is calm, a measured exchange is the right opportunity to guide their thought processes. emotionally invested, they think ‘Oh, I have done this a bunch of times.Parents could start by offering kids alternatives to what they suggest and asking leading questions about each option: What if we did this? I know the routine: I should think of two different outcomes, I should try and think about how other people feel, I should think about what the consequences are, and I should think about how I feel about myself.’”These changes won’t happen overnight; this is a process.Learn about the steps to problem-solving and watch videos of teachers demonstrating strategies they use to help children in their classrooms. Instead, parents should take the time when kids are young to walk them through the decision making process, to consider consequences – all of them – and then to experience those consequences.


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