This strategy works best when your child is feeling calm and relaxed. If they’re very anxious or angry, help them to calm down first (quiet time, take some deep breaths) or leave problem-solving for another day when they are feeling calmer.
1. Identify the problem
Kids don’t always have the words to tell you how they feel or know exactly what the problem is. Finding a quiet space where they feel comfortable and relaxed may help them to start talking about it. Remember to step back and not jump in to solve the problem.
2. Find solutions and try them out
Brainstorming two or three solutions is a good place to start – any more can be overwhelming. You can encourage their thinking with questions like “what do you think you/we could do?” With practice and support from others, they will gradually be able to come up with more of their own solutions. If they get stuck, you may need to make some suggestions in the beginning.
3. Check in: how did it go?
Once you have both identified some options, you can decide together which one to try first. Work out a plan for how they will try out their solution.
Do they need support from you, another child or a teacher? When will they get a chance to try it out – at home or in the playground?
Once your child has tried the solution, check in with them as soon as possible. Did it work? If not, why not? What can they try next?
Remember to give them lots of support and encouragement if the solution didn’t work out. Sometimes we have the right solution, but need to practise it many times. Other times, we may need to return to step one to see if we correctly identified the issue.