Developing problem solving skills with young people

Learning how to problem solve sets a young person up for adult life.

rubiks cubeIf a young person is used to their parents making all their decisions for them, and swooping in to ‘fix things’ then, they miss out on developing very important problem solving skills.

As a parent, you will want to ensure your daughter or son learns to manage and solve problems confidently on their own.

What does problem solving involve?

Navigating all the things that can come up for a teenager or someone in their early twenties can be difficult. Young people need to be able to solve problems every day, socially, in school, college or work.

By developing problem solving skills your son or daughter will be to:

  • resolve conflict
  • be independent
  • achieve and take on challenging goals
  • make their own decisions.

Being able to effectively problem solve stops smaller issues escalating into big ones which has an impact on our overall wellbeing.

Essential steps for problem solving

There are some key steps to follow when solving a problem, whether it’s choosing what subjects to take or dealing with bullying behaviour.

To start with, work through a problem together, offering your guidance and support as a parent. As your son or daughter gains more confidence, encourage to them to work through things on their own, assuring them you are always there for advice.

Identify the problem

Start with identifying what the problem is and why is it one? Is it clear what contributed to it? Can it be learned from? For example, if the problem is a failed exam, could this have been solved by more study, more effective study, or are they having trouble with that subject.

Consider potential solutions

Clearly outline the problem and think about each possible solution with your son or daughter. Make sure they come up with some  of their own too.

Choose a solution

When choosing a solution, let your son or daughter work out which one will have the biggest impact? Which one do they think will be easiest for them to achieve? They should decide which approach will work best for them.

Try it out

If we don’t try anything, the problem is unlikely to resolve itself. Emphasise the trying and learning elements of problem solving, and stress that it’s OK to fail.

Sometimes we can’t say we have actually ‘solved’ a problem, but came to a compromise, or sought alternative solutions. Despite our best attempts, sometimes we cannot solve something completely and in these cases it’s about working out some coping strategies to get through it.

Helping your son or daughter develop problem solving skills will set them up to deal with life’s challenges more confidently and effectively.

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