“When provided the opportunity to problem solve, children often come up with some of the same solutions that they would ignore if they were offered by adults in the form of lectures!”
It’s amazing what great problem solvers children can be and how much more cooperative they become when they are actually involved in the problem solving process!
If there is a particular issue that is causing grief, sit down with the child (when you are both in a calm state of mind), share what the problem is and then honestly invite them to come up with some ideas that they think might solve the problem.
From the brainstormed list – choose a solution that is acceptable to you both. Using the criteria that solutions must be: Related, Respectful (to all), Reasonable and Helpful (to all) is important to establish.
After a solution is mutually decided on, commit to trying it for a determined length of time. After that period of time is up, sit down with the child and discuss how things are going. If things are working well – great! – carry on. If things aren’t going well – go back to the beginning and brainstorm solutions again.
Don’t Give Up!
Don’t give up if it doesn’t work the first time. It takes children a while to get used to having their suggestions taken seriously and to the idea of being part of the solution.
The above type of problem solving can be used with children three and up (depending on their developmental level.
Very young children can problem solve too!
For younger children you can apply shared problem solving in the form of choices. Begin by modelling problem solving by saying something like – “Hmm, I wonder what we could do about this?” Then verbalize two choices “should we..?” or “would you rather?” and offer the choices to the child. To empower the child further, add “you decide” after giving the choices. (More info on choices to come!)
Next – “POWER WITH CHILDREN” – The Importance of Giving Children the Locus of Control