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Lifeskills Letters



Hooray for Lifeskills Problem Solving

December 04, 2019
By Lauren Conway

Hooray for Lifeskills! 

From the moment we open our eyes each and every morning, our next Lifeskill of Problem Solving is put into action.  “Should I hit the snooze button?”, “What should I wear?”, “Do I have time to stop for a cup of coffee?”.  All day, every day, our brains and bodies work together to figure out an abundance of problems ~ both big and small 1 .  For most adults, problem solving may seem like second nature. You’re faced with a dilemma, you think about different solutions, you choose the best one and act on it.  Boom, you’re a Problem Solver!  For children, however, it’s not always that easy.  Breaking down the concept of problem solving can be a great first step in helping children understand all that goes into finding the best solution for a difficult situation.  Below I have listed some additional ways to reinforce problem solving at home.

 The Basic Steps of Problem Solving - Children by nature are impulsive, so encouraging them to stop and think will help them become better problem solvers.  Outline the basic steps in problem solving with your child: State the problem; Think of multiple solutions; Evaluate those solutions (is this a good move or a bad move? How would this solution make me and others feel?); Pick the best solution and try it out.  

 Think Out Loud - Show your child that talking to yourself doesn’t mean you’re crazy!  Thinking out loud as you work through a problem and it’s possible solutions can be an invaluable lesson for your child.  They will witness first hand the steps in solving a problem and how to reflect on one’s own actions and thoughts.

 Children’s Literature - Using children’s literature is a great way for students to see a problem being worked out.  Talk with your child about how characters in the book recognized their problems and the steps they took in solving them.  For younger students the Arthur or D.W. series by Marc Brown provide stories with clear problems and solutions that your child could draw, write or tell you about. 

Games & Puzzles - The use of everyday children’s games can also be a great way to practice problem solving skills.  When playing a game with your child include the strategy of thinking out loud to demonstrate how you determine your best move.  Checkers, chess or Connect Four are games that this works well with.  Using the basic steps of problem solving state a couple of moves that you could make; pick the best move and reflect on your choice, “Will this be a good move or a bad one?”.  Children will witness the importance of thinking ahead to avoid negative consequences 2.

It’s Ok to Make Mistakes –Allow children to make mistakes and experience consequences.  As hard as this can be for a parent, rushing to your child’s side every time they have a problem will only delay them in developing confident problem solving skills.  


~Lauren Conway, School Counselor