Problem-solving, as we know, is one of the skills that we want our kids to have had lots of practice in and be really good at by the time they hit middle school. But if for some reason it hasn't been part of your repertoire with the kids, h ere are a couple of things you can do to start that process. So let's say John comes home and he's really angry because he's had a fight with his best friend, and he kind of goes into this tirade. A parent's first propensity is to say, well you should call him and apologize. Or you shouldn't have said that. Or this is what I would do. And that's why kids don't learn problem-solving skills, because mom and dad help so much.
Instead, you can stop and say, John, tell me the problem in one sentence. I wanted to play a game, and Bill didn't, so I called him stupid, and he told me he was never going to play with me again. Okay, now we've taught him how to capture the problem in one sentence. Okay. So what would you do differently now that you're calm.
He might say, I'd let Bill pick a game. Or I wouldn't have called him stupid. Okay, so what do you want to do now? He might say, nothing. He might say, I'm going to call Bill and apologize. He might say, can I think about it for a while. I don't know. Yes. You can. And when you decide, come back and tell me.
And then you take the next step. Do you want to call Bill? Doy ou want to do nothing? Do you want to wait until the next time? So it's a very easy process teaching kids problem-solving skills if you break it down, and you do it the same way every time. Doesn't matter if it's a big hair problem or a very small problem.
So here's how you teach kids to solve problems. One, have them articulate the problem in one small sentence, not 35. Two, ask them, what would you do differently the next time? What did you learn about yourself? And three, ask them, when do you want to make that change? When do you want to call your friend and apologize? When do you want to write the apology note? When do you want to pay the shopkeeper?
Kids have a natural ability to solve problems if we just give them a chance to practice.