Simple Ways to Teach Your Child
Problem Solving Skills

See also: Developing Interpersonal Skills in Children

Problem solving is an essential skill for survival. It’s essential for progressive academics, healthy socialization, and an optimistic approach towards life. Therefore, experts recommend instilling this skill in children from an age as early as three years.

However, problem solving isn’t easy to teach. This is especially true when a child is accustomed to opting for the easier route (which can sometimes mean abandoning challenges).

So, in this post we’ve compiled some simple ways to effectively teach problem solving to your kids. Whether you’re a teacher or a parent, you can implement these in day-to-day life and witness the improvement yourself!

1. Encourage creative play

Creative play is any play that lets your child put their imaginary skills to use. A few examples of creative play are:

  • Dressing up
  • Playing musical instruments
  • Painting
  • Playing with toys such as lego sets and blocks
  • Home corner play
  • Collage making

Now if you’re wondering how any of these instill problem-solving skills in your child, your concern is absolutely valid. Allow us to explain.

Consider lego sets, for example. When your child plays with lego sets, he or she attempts to build walls, stairs, towers, buildings, etc. In the process of constructing different structures from a variety of pieces and shapes, they go through the five steps of problem solving.

They identify the problem, come up with multiple solutions, pick the best solution, and implement it. At times, when their chosen solution doesn’t work, they go through trial and error to get to the right solution.

Other types of creative play foster the same skills. The more creative games children play, the more readily they reach solutions. And in this cycle, they also become more confident in their creativity.

P.S. Here’s a fun creativity quiz to help estimate your creativity levels. Both you and your young one can attempt it to see how creative you are!

2. Use storytelling to nurture their skills

Story telling is one of the best means of communicating lessons to children. Owing to their extensive and active imagination, they can visualize the stories they hear or read very well. This is why children connect with stories at a deeper level and experience an everlasting impact.

For that very reason, we recommend reading books like Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, and Stuck by Oliver Jeffers to children. These stories introduce certain relatable characters to young minds and narrate tales that push children to explore their problem-solving skills.

Whenever stuck in a problem, you’ll find your kids taking inspiration from the stories they’ve heard and quickly come up with effective solutions.

3. Create solvable hurdles in everyday tasks

If you’re a busy parent and it’s difficult to monitor your kid’s creative play or read them valuable stories now and then, you can polish their problem solving skills using everyday tasks.

For example, present them with multiple options and allow them to settle for one. If they need to choose a dress for a particular event, encourage them to pick their own outfit.

If it’s going to be cold and their outfit lacks a jacket or warm material, highlight the problem. Let them know they’re going to fall sick with a cold and need to pair something to keep themselves warm. Check what they come up with and help and appreciate their problem solving attempts.

Similarly, encourage your children to pick a game on their own or pick a toy within a budget.

Just make sure to always keep artificial hurdles you create solvable, and do not stress your children beyond their capacity.

4. Accept failure and encourage multiple attempts

If your child ever comes home with an F grade or below average marks, never get aggressive with them. Feelings of failure and defeat may already have your child stressed, and an aggressive response from their biggest support may put them down even further.

They may never regain their confidence in their approach to solutions — be it academic or real life. They’ll be seeking and depending on external support to get their solutions right every time and avoid scolding.

Instead, talk it through with your child. Work together to figure out your child’s weak points in the subject and practice together until it’s perfect. For example, if they’re unable to comprehend word problems in mathematics, practice questions together and bring mathematics into daily life such as determining the right ratio of ingredients, summing bills, etc.

This will encourage them to try again and instill a never-give-up attitude, which is essential for developing problem solving skills.

5. Teach problem-solving with feelings

When it comes to feelings, help your child understand what they’re feeling and why. If they’re throwing a tantrum, let them cool down. After a while, talk to them and discuss why they were behaving the way they were, i.e., address the underlying concern. Here’s a short guide we recommend reading before you discuss your child’s feelings with them.

Doing so will help your child enhance their social problem solving skills. If they understand themselves well enough to control their emotions and temper, they’ll be empathetic and understanding enough to lead and settle socially chaotic situations.

6. Ask them for help

One of the key factors that boost problem solving skills is confidence. A child becomes more confident in their problem solving skills if they help others overcome their problems irrespective of the difficulty level, which is why it’s a good idea to ask your child for help.

Of course, you can’t expect your child to help you with complex life decisions. But you can ask them for help in simple tasks, such as choosing the right snack. Your trust in their decision making skills will help them approach social, academic, and life problems more eagerly and confidently.

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills eBooks.

The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Develop your interpersonal skills with our series of eBooks. Learn about and improve your communication skills, tackle conflict resolution, mediate in difficult situations, and develop your emotional intelligence.

Final Words

These are some tips to enhance problem solving skills in children. Remember that every child is unique and their approach to problem solving differs. Do not compare your child with others or force them into a particular solution.

Encourage their efforts, no matter how big or small, and they’ll be confident enough to take on any problem that comes their way!