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Helping Children Become Problem Solvers

In this video, you will find ideas that can help you promote problem solving skills in the children that are part of your life. You will find 6 specific tools that can help you deal with common day to day problems that arise in young children’s interactions such as not wanting to share. It includes a short video clip demonstrating using one of these strategies and it provides free printables that can assist you in this process.

These are the strategies discussed in the video:

  1. Give the child or children time to solve their problems on their own. As long as they are safe, just wait and see if they are able to reach a solution. If they are being aggressive, intervene to stop the aggression and assist accordingly.
  2. Ask the child how they want to be helped: “Do you want me to follow your directions or do you want me to give you ideas? This provides the child with a chance to continue to lead the problem solving process. This can be a collaboration instead of you solving everything for them.
  3. Ask questions that encourage the child to find their own solutions: If they climbed somewhere and don’t know how to get down, you could ask: “where do you think you could put your foot first?” or, if he is building a tower and wants help you could say: “what do you think you could do next”.
  4. Teach your children to ask for help by providing this option as a choice: If your child is struggling with something, for example: they are not being able to zip their jacket, instead of jumping in an saying, “let me help you”; you can say: “it looks like you are trying very hard to zip your jacket and something is not working. I will be here near you and if you decide that you want help, let me know. And if they ask for help, go back to strategy number 2 and ask them how they want to be helped: “Do you want me to follow your directions or do you want me to give you ideas?
  5. Offer a visual aid to assist the child in learning possible solutions: This is a set of solutions that you can print as a guide to help children learn different ways to solve problems.  It’s called the solution kit and it comes in two sets: one for solutions at school, and one for solutions at home. The set of solutions are slightly different.  I cut them out, laminated them and put velcro behind them so that my children could interact with the solutions when thinking about their problems. I think that when children have the chance to move the solutions and hold them, it empowers them more and it provides an extra layer of learning as they are interacting with the images. So when they encounter a problem that they are having a hard time figuring out, I take out the solution board and assist them in problem solving. I also created a set to put in my purse.
  6. Read the story “We can be problem solvers”: This story explains 4 steps to solve problems and it gives you an opportunity to talk about feelings that arise when children have problems, and it introduces the different solutions to common problems to children. At the end of the story it has images of common problems that children encounter and you can practice helping them figure out what solution could be good for each situation. Just like the solution kit, there is a story for home and another for school. It is the same story, but the solutions and problem situation change slightly.

Resources and Links

Solution Kit home edition:

“We Can Be Problem Solvers at Home”:

Solution Kit classroom edition:

“We Can Be Problem Solvers” story for school:

Bilingual Feelings chart that I used in the demonstration video:

English Feelings chart:

Self-laminating sheets to laminate Solution Kit:

Clipboard to put “Solution Kit” images:

Velcro dots to stick the solutions to the clipboard:

Binder rings to create the solutions travel kit:

Note: To create my Solution Board, I chose a combination of solutions from the home and school versions of the Solution Kit because I really thought both had very valuable solutions that applied to my children. You can choose to include the ones that you think apply best for the children that are part of your life.

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