How to instill problem-solving skills in children
Teaching children problem-solving skills from an early age is crucial to equip them with the ability to make assertive decisions for their personal and professional lives in the future.
In this post, Aark Learnings holds significant importance as children who lack problem-solving tools may be at a higher risk of developing depression, even as early as adolescence. Additionally, studies have shown that empowering children with problem-solving abilities can also improve their mental health.
So, why do children need problem-solving skills? Every day, children encounter various challenges that might seem simple to adults but are significant learning opportunities for them.
To instil problem-solving skills in children, we must recognize the essential role parents and teachers play in their development. Creating an appropriate environment for children to face and solve challenges is vital for them to acquire valuable problem-solving skills for their daily lives.
Why do children need problem-solving skills?
Children face problems every day. Perhaps we adults see them as simple situations, but for them, they are challenges and little daily lessons.
Children who grow up lacking coping skills may avoid taking action instead of facing challenging situations and invest their energy in avoiding or hiding problems instead of seeking solutions.
In contrast, another result of not having problem-solving skills could be that children jump into action without taking the time to analyze the situation and come up with possible solutions. They are children who could quickly feel cornered by the pressure and develop impulsive behaviours.
How can we instil problem-solving skills in children?
As parents or teachers, how can we give children problem-solving skills? Our participation is key for children to develop these tools, so we must ensure that we provide an appropriate environment for children to face and solve challenges and acquire learning in their daily lives.
5 ways to instill problem-solving skills
As parents, it is natural to feel an instinctive need to shield our children from difficulties and challenges. However, by constantly stepping in to solve problems on their behalf, we inadvertently rob them of valuable learning experiences. Allowing children to experience and navigate challenges independently is vital for their growth and development. When they encounter problems, giving them space to explore potential solutions, make mistakes, and learn from their experiences fosters resilience and self-reliance.
By experiencing failures and setbacks, children develop crucial coping mechanisms and understand that setbacks are a normal part of life. This understanding not only helps them build problem-solving skills but also cultivates emotional intelligence, which is essential for maintaining mental well-being throughout life. As parents, it is essential to provide a safety net and emotional support while letting them take calculated risks and confront difficulties. This delicate balance between guidance and independence ensures that they build confidence in their problem-solving abilities.
Encourage creative play
Play is the cornerstone of childhood learning, and creative play, in particular, has been shown to be highly effective in developing problem-solving skills. When children engage in activities that challenge their imagination, such as building with blocks, creating art, or playing strategy games like chess, they are essentially solving problems in a fun and engaging way.
Through creative play, children learn to think outside the box, explore various solutions, and adapt their approaches to different situations. Whether it’s building a complex structure with blocks or strategizing moves in a game, children experience the joy of overcoming challenges and finding solutions, instilling a sense of accomplishment and confidence in their problem-solving capabilities.
Read stories that require problem-solving
Books have the power to transport children to different worlds, introducing them to characters who face and solve unexpected problems. Reading stories that revolve around problem-solving not only sparks their imagination but also presents valuable life lessons. As they immerse themselves in the narrative, children can empathize with the characters and explore various problem-solving strategies vicariously.
These stories also help children understand that problem-solving is not limited to specific contexts but is a skill applicable to a wide range of situations. They learn that overcoming challenges and finding solutions is an inherent part of the human experience. By discussing the characters’ actions and decisions, parents and teachers can encourage children to reflect on problem-solving approaches and apply the lessons to their own lives.
Craft activities offer a perfect opportunity for children to witness real-time problem-solving in action. As they work on creative projects, they encounter various obstacles that require critical thinking and problem-solving skills to overcome. Whether it’s figuring out how to construct a stable structure or selecting the right colours for a painting, each step involves decision-making and problem-solving.
Engaging in crafts with children not only promotes bonding but also demonstrates that adults face challenges too and must find solutions. Parents and teachers can openly discuss the problem-solving process during these activities, encouraging children to share their ideas and insights. This hands-on approach allows children to witness the practical application of problem-solving and empowers them to tackle challenges with enthusiasm and determination.
Ask them for help
Often, children’s problem-solving skills are underestimated, and they may not be given opportunities to contribute to decision-making processes. By involving children in family brainstorming sessions or decision-making tasks, we acknowledge their capabilities and foster a sense of responsibility and autonomy.
When children feel valued and respected for their problem-solving input, they gain confidence in their abilities and become more proactive in seeking solutions. Encouraging them to voice their ideas and actively participate in problem-solving discussions boosts their self-esteem and empowers them to take ownership of their actions.
Instead of rushing to remedy children’s problems, it is better to guide and support them through the process of finding solutions on their own. As they grow older and continue to practice problem-solving skills, we can witness their development into responsible and assertive young individuals, capable of making informed decisions and facing the consequences.
By instilling problem-solving skills in children, we are setting them up for success in various aspects of their lives, nurturing their ability to handle challenges with confidence and determination. As parents and educators, our efforts in fostering these skills will undoubtedly have a lasting positive impact on their future growth and overall well-being.
Archana Agarwal is a Post Graduate in International Management from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, an Entrepreneur, a proud mother to a 7-year-old, and Founder- CEO of Aark Learnings a leading online educational platform that provides skill-based holistic education and experiential learning to the new generation kids which help in their growth and overall development