Problem solving plays an important role in everyday life. However, we are not born with the necessary problem solving skills, they have to be developed.
Good problem solvers need to be able to:
Listen and think rationally.
Consider options and what other people need
Find solutions that work and sometimes try to reach a compromise.
The ability to adeptly solve problems is highly valued in social and work situations.
When tweens and teens learn the skills and strategies to solve problems and resolve conflicts by themselves, they will become more confident and independent. They will also be better able to make informed decisions by themselves.
Steps to solve problems effectively
Problems can often be solved by talking them through and by compromise. The below six steps will work when you can’t find a solution, and can be used to sovle most problems.
When you’re working on a problem with your child, it’s always best to do it when everyone’s calm and thinking clearly. This way, your child will be more likely to want to find a solution.
It’s also a good idea to find a time when you won’t have any interruptions:
Identify the problem
The first step is to pinpoint exactly what the problem is. Then put the problem into words that will allow it to be solved, for instance: ‘You went out of the house this evening without telling us where you were going.’
Focus on the issue, not on emotions or on the other person as this will only serve to cause your tween to feel under attack and get defensive.
Why is it a problem?
Help your child to describe what has caused the problem and where it is coming from. Questions such as these can help to steer the conversation towards a resolution:
Why is this so important to you?
Why do you need this?
What do you think might happen?
Why are you upset?
Try to listen without interrupting with your side of the argument. Instead listen to what your child has to say and once afterwards offer your opinion.
Consider different solutions
List all the ways the problem could potentially be solved. You should look for all possible solutions.Try to avoid judging or debating these yet.
If your tween is finding it hard to come up with ideas of her own, start her off with some suggestions.
Evaluate the solutions
Look at the solutions seperately, discussing the positives and negatives of each one.
After making a list of the positives and negatives to each potential solution, eliminate the options for which the negatives outweigh the positives. Rate each solution from 1 to 10.
The solution that is chosen should be one thatcan be actioned and will also solve the problem at hand.
Sometimes you will be able to find a solution that makes both you and your child happy but with compromise you should be able to find a solution that you can both live with.
Put the solution into action
Once you’ve agreed on a solution, discuss how it will work.
Evaluate the outcome
Once your child has actioned the plan, discuss whether it was successful.