The scene is all too familiar. You come home from work only to find your child in tears about something that might seem trivial to you, but is everything to them. You brace yourself for the story, willing yourself to not show an exasperated expression on your face. Or maybe you feel upset by the story, wanting to jump right in and fix the problem for your child. It can be hard to wrap your mind around the idea of allowing them to fix the problem themselves, but doing so will pay in dividends. Here are four ways that teach problem solving skills in a way that is palatable and allows children to feel a sense of autonomy and resiliency.
1) Routinely ask your kids for help-Allow your children to understand their capacities for problem solving by asking for their input in age appropriate ways. For example: "I know you want to fit your toy box in the trunk. but the trunk is really big. How do you think we can make this happen?" You would be surprised at what they come up with!
2) Encourage Creative Play- Encourage your children to make snow forts, or to create something out of Lego. These activities lend themselves to problem solving and imagination, both of which lead to the development of problem solving skills.
3) Learn a skill with your child- Normalize the idea of problem solving and failure by learning a skill alongside your child. Terrible skater? No problem, take lessons alongside your child and model the ability to accept failure and problem solve your way through difficulties.
4) Provide multiple solutions Facilitate decision making by providing your child(ren) with multiple solutions to problems they face. This allows them to think through solutions by looking at what opportunities might be best for them and what potential consequences might be.