Problem Solving Skills for Children

IDevice Icon Teaching Children to Resolve Conflict

Children need to learn problem-solving skills to generate alternatives for getting what they want in socially acceptable ways. Researchers have found that a child's ability to deal with conflict in an acceptable manner is directly related to the number of solutions or alternatives the child has. Avoid the temptation of just telling them what to do. Problem solving with children can be a tedious process but it allows children to gain experience in thinking and making decisions on their own.

3 kids, 1 handheld game

IDevice Icon Teaching Problem Solving to Children

Basic StepsĀ 

1. Get the facts and feelings. When children are upset, fighting, angry or hurt, first find out the details. Calmly ask nonjudgmental questions. What happened?

2. Spend some time focusing on feelings. Children see things primarily from their own perspective. Explore the child's feelings. Then let them know how others feel.

3. Help children find a clear goal. Help them define the problem in terms of what they want to happen. Let them know that everyone's needs are important.

Example: "What can you do so you have room to play with blocks and Casey has room to drive his truck?"
4. Generate alternatives. Help them stay focused on the problem. Act as a "blackboard" and repeat the ideas that they suggest. Later suggest other ideas if needed.

5. Help them to evaluate the consequences of their ideas. Ask: "What might happen if you...?" or "How might Matt feel if you... ?" Resist judging.

6. Ask for a decision. When children have completed thinking of and evaluating ideas, the remaining task is to make a plan. Restate the problem, summarize the ideas and let the children decide which they will try. If they choose an alternative you think will not work, be sure they know what to do next.

Source; Elizabeth Creary (1984) Kids Can Cooperate, Parenting Press

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