How to Improve Your Kid’s Problem Solving Skill


As a kid, I remember being forced to sort out an issue (that I probably began). It would frustrate me to see how my parents pushed me to sort out my own issues, especially as I was a kid. I hated it simply because I was so dependent on them, especially when things went wrong. And to see them look at me and say ‘figure it out’, would simply annoy me. There were so many times I would go wrong in making a decision, but well, I also had to bear the consequences of those decisions and choose wisely the next time. I remember them providing me with various options, but I was the one to pick a decision. I eventually found that I was pushing myself to sort things out.
Well, I wouldn’t say that is the best way to raise your child into learning skills of problem solving, but let’s look at a few concepts that we could draw through this.

Know that your child is capable of problem-solving:

‘Come here, let me do it for you’ is a phrase that often escapes our mouths. Not only do we think that our children might not be able to sort it out, but sorting it out for them also saves us a lot of time. Your child is capable of sorting a problem, if only you will allow her to. As a parent you might come from a space of helping your child as well and in that case saying ‘come here, let me help you do it’ would be a more effective statement to make. If you are always doing what your child needs to be doing, it only serves a crutch that she will grow up with as opposed to a helping hand.

Mistakes will be made :

Be assured that your child is going to fail more than once just like you and me. I vaguely recall a time when I went over to a friend house and her daughter was to serve me a glass of water. While she was walking towards me, the glass slipped off the tray and shattered itself to the floor. I looked at my upset friend who took a deep breath, kept calm and asked her daughter if she could get another glass of water while she cleaned the mess with the glass. Now, it’s always fine to give your child another chance while encouraging her and cleaning up an unsafe mess. It was interesting to see how the mother allowed her child to repeat the same process, only changing a few instructions. This allows your child to understand that mistakes are normal and that we only need to work through a few solutions to better ourselves.

Provide options :

‘Well, you could do this, or that or come up with an idea of your own’ encourages your child to think through what she would like to do. Although your child might have ideas to sort out an issue, you could give her options which are more effective and safe as a solution. Allow her to then pick from these options even though it isn’t what you might have on mind as the best solution. This will develop her problem solving skill.

Finding out all the possible strategies is the key to solve a problem. Allow your child to plan all possible solutions and then choose the best one.

Break down solutions :

‘This is too difficult for me’ is something you would hear from your child at times. Truth is there could be problems, with academics or life situations which are beyond what she can work with in terms of a difficulty level. At times like these, you could help your child with breaking down solution points in terms of prioritising, urgency and importance of the problem. Breaking them into smaller achievable parts will help her grow more confident and become more of a solution-focussed thinker.

Age-appropriate interactive play :

Board games, block games, puzzles, trivia…the list is never-ending. Many of these play are all solution-focused games that involve making strategies, thinking skills, prioritization and decision making skills. Allow your child to indulge in these games regularly. It will become a fun way to sharpen an important skill.

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