Problem Solving Skills Shouldn't Be Your Problem

In a past Thrive Live we talked about memorable moments in my Kindermusik class and what was so special about them.

A lot of parents have told me they watched it, and thanked me for allowing them to stop and observe their children for a while.

So today we're going to talk about why problem solving skills should not be your problem.

If your child's problems become your problem, and you help them solve the problem, you are not teaching them proper problem solving skills.

This is a big problem.

So let's review a little bit about what we talked about in class, just to refresh your memory. We talked about that we are all in the habit of being in a hurry.

On the go, on the go, on the go.

How can we give our children the time and space needed for their brains to solve a problem?

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A few minutes of patience gives your child a lifetime of learning.

By slowing down, and observing with your guidance, you've started your child on the pathway of having enough confidence to figure things out.

So in our Kindermusik class we ask the parents step back, allow a deep breath, observe your child with your close guidance, and let them solve the task that we're asking them to do.

Let them figure out how to solve that problem on their own, without always telling them what to do and how to do it.

Yes, we want to be connected with our children, yes we want to be involved with them, especially in a Kindermusik class, we're all about connection.

But we're about guidance.

Guidance to help them discover the process of learning.

We're not here to tell them how to do something and then do it for them.

That doesn't help them at all.

Simple steps to help your child learn some problem solving skills.

For example, your child has hit a little bit of a roadblock. They might be frustrated.

  1. Number one, acknowledge their feelings. "You seem frustrated, you're having trouble fitting that puzzle piece together.” or “ You seem angry. You're unable to finish your math homework because you're stuck."

    Acknowledge their feelings.

    Let them know that you see how they're feeling.

    If you're not sure how they're feeling, pick one. I'm sure you'll be close.

    And look them in the eye and tell them that. "You seem upset."

  2. Now compose yourself, breathe, remember three deep belly breaths will help compose you. Then, teach them how to breathe to compose themselves.

    "Breathe with me. Breathe with me. You can handle this. You can do it."

    Three belly breaths with your child. Now you're helping them compose themselves.

  3. Now discover the problem.

    "What do you think the problem is? Oh, you wanted to put this puzzle piece in this slot, and it's not fitting."

    Instead of doing it for them, ask them some questions. "What would happen if ..."

    "What would happen if you tried a different position for the puzzle piece?"

    "What would happen if you tried putting it in a different slot, in a different space?"

    Give them the “what happens if” statements and guidance, but don't do it for them.

The key here is learning through the process of finding out what will happen.

It's not really about getting to the answer.

Your little one learns a lot about puzzle pieces not fitting.

Guess what they're learning?

They're learning about the shapes, the sizes, the makeup of the piece.

They're learning that it's not fitting in the slot, and they're learning about the shape of the slot that they're trying to put it into.

Their brain is figuring some of those things out.

Your Kindergartener learns a lot about why the legos aren't standing tall the way they think they should stand.

They're learning about the physics and the engineering of simple structures as well as gravity and balance, when it's not working.

Your sixth grader is learning a lot when their science experiment goes awry.

What happened and why?

Moms and dads, you learn more about the chemistry of cooking when a meal doesn't turn out the way you imagined.

You begin to think about what you would add, take away, some cooking time, some mixing, some blending, et cetera.

Learning to adjust to that recipe the next time is crucial to learning.

When you do adjust it, and you like it the next time, now you have the confidence to try to tweak it even more. And this is all without a chef coming in and telling you what to do or how to do it.

You might read up on suggestions, but you have to be the one to try it another way.

We can call it quits and hire a chef to come in and make dinner.

It would be nice once in a while, right?

But you haven't gained the confidence to try it yourself next time.

So now put yourself in your child's mind.

What do you want them to really learn?

Do you want them to learn about the process of doing something, or do you want them to just get the right answer, or to figure it out and move on?

If you give them the confidence to figure out the process, that's helping them with problem solving skills.

Because all through life we hit roadblocks, and stumbles, and brick walls.

And we’ve got to figure out a way to get over them, or around them, or under them. And now you are going to give your child the confidence to do that by guiding them through the process of doing something.

So their problem shouldn't be your problem, their problem is theirs to own and try to figure out how to get around it, how to solve it, how to go through it. With your guidance and connection.