Problem-solving is a skill that's applicable to all facets of our lives. But what about the problems in your child's life? I offer a few steps that may help you to teach or at least guide your children on how they can tackle the problems they are likely to face. For instance your child comes home from school, she is downcast. Why? Can six steps get you from beginning to end?
Step one - have the child identify the problem: this is the most important step, and often the most overlooked. Your child can't solve a problem until he can state what it is. If you ask your child what's wrong, you may get a shrug because she may not be able to articulate the problem. Be patient.
Step two - brainstorm: come up with a list of possible solutions to the problem. You may think your child is young to brainstorm, but brainstorming is just tossing out ideas of possible solutions. Don't get too bogged down, share a couple of farfetched solutions to ease frustration. A farfetched or impossible idea, just for laughs; "We could find an elephant to bite Jason's ear if he does not stop teasing/hitting you." It is a funny visual that is unlikely to happen.
Step three - assess each idea: ask your child which idea is a good one. Have her tell you why she thinks it is a good idea. Ask which is a bad idea and why it is bad.
Step four - pick one or two of the good ideas: have your child pick the top two ideas or solutions, then have her talk about the specific reasons for choosing those ideas. Now make a decision, what will she do?
Step five - put the decision into action: before putting the decision into action, talk about possible outcomes, concentrate on the good.
Step six - evaluate and learn: when your child returns home, ask how her day went. Don't pounce on her with the question that is burning a hole in your heart. Give her a chance to tell you happened. If the subject is not mentioned, ask about specifics of the day before you ask her if she saw her Jason and how that went. If your question is met with tears, don't panic, allow the child to explain what happened at her own pace. If things went well, celebrate with a fun snack. If things went poorly, use the snack to soothe tender bruised edges. Then think of what changes are needed make the solution work better. If things don't work out the second time, you may need to do the mommy or daddy thing and talk to the tormentor's parent.
These steps can help your child learn early on to begin solving his or her own problems.