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Raising a Little Einstein: Encouraging Problem Solving Skills in Your Child

oak-ridge-103930_1920Problems happen. They are an unavoidable part of life. For the most part children are natural problem solvers. It can be seen in their daily interactions and investigations through play. Problem solving encompasses all areas of their learning and development. There are however many times when they will hit that proverbial wall. As parents, the first instinct might be to come to their rescue, but solving the problem for them might hinder their ability to advance their own problem solving skills. Instead, we would like to offer the following 4 strategies to nurture this life skill in your little one.

Encourage your child to describe the problem.

Children may not see the problem the same way their parent does. It is important to give them the opportunity to communicate their view and put the problem in their own words. Giving them a voice will encourage them to trust their own problem solving abilities. If your child is not old enough to verbalize the problem themselves, then you can state the problem for them. This will establish a connection between identifying a problem and discovering a solution.

Allow them time to come up with a solution.

One of the hardest things we might have to do is to hold back. It is important to give children the time they need to figure out how to solve the problem on their own. They may not solve it in the same efficient manner as we would have, but their confidence will only grow with the added independence. If your child encounters a problem, step back and provide some encouraging words to help them feel confident in their own ability.

Talk it out with them.

If your child is having trouble identifying a solution try talking it out. Discuss what strategies they have tried thus far. Make comments and ask open ended questions like: “what is and what is not working?” This encourages them to use trial and error, a systematic way of problem solving. They also learn to recognize when they need to approach a solution differently from what they have been doing.

Provide assistance if they are frustrated.

Occasionally children may need hands-on assistance from an adult. If they run into a roadblock that they cannot get past on their own, it is perfectly OK to step in. In this case, it is important to provide an explanation of the problem and your solution to them. Doing so can help them learn from the experience and possibly use the information on their own in the future. It is important, however, to provide only enough assistance for them to be able to continue on with their previous intention.

Tender Year’s teachers love watching children persevere through their everyday challenges. The self-esteem and confidence that they gain from this is written all over their little faces. At Tender Years, we strongly believe that children are stronger and happier if their growth and development take place with a balance of structured and developmentally appropriate choices. The process of interaction and well-defined boundaries and routines, result in learning.

Ultimately, the opportunities and structure provided at our centers will help foster positive self-concepts in our children. A child who can like and trust him/herself, can reach out to others and can face new and challenging situations with assurance of success throughout life.