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Updated: Dec 7, 2020

Problem-solving is an essential skill which is often not taught to children. It is believed that the child naturally learns and develops it. But many children — especially those on Autism Spectrum Disorder, Learning Disability, Developmental Disability, and other social and emotional needs — struggle to identify and solve problems independently. The process needs to be broken down for these children. It will help them to not get overwhelmed or stressed in difficult situations. It's a long process and requires hard work but it’s worth it because it enables the child to solve his problems positively in the future.

This article includes a free printable guide to problem-solving.

Problem-solving is an essential skill that is required not only in childhood but also throughout adulthood. The ability or skill to problem solve helps kids manage the undesirable situations that arise throughout the day. A child encounters problems at school with a peer or at home. It can be anything from forgetting to turn in an assignment, an argument with a friend or trouble working in a team or a group. Therefore, speech therapists, teachers and parents have begun teaching problem-solving skills to all their students. Along with teaching them how to solve a problem, children should also be taught to review if their solution worked or didn’t work.

Do you have kids on your caseload who have troubles with solving social problems? Try using our problem-solving deck in your session.

Problem-solving skills are critical to a child’s social interactions, personal and professional relationships in the future. Also, if it's worked on from childhood he will be able to better handle changes, cope with stress and face the challenges.

The ultimate goal is that the child will be able to independently solve a problem and also in the process learn how to advocate for themselves.

Problem Solving Steps

There are five steps that break down the task of problem-solving. This allows students to learn to problem solve in manageable steps.

The steps include:

1. Identify the problem

Let’s start by our children identifying and labelling the problem. Often they are not able to recognize the problem and hence are not able to give you a solution. Therefore, they need to practice defining the problem in a particular situation. Give them examples of situations, read storybooks to them, show videos and let them find out what was the problem.

2. Determine how big the problem is and how it makes you feel

For kids, we can add a step here where they tell us the size of the problem small, medium or big. Based on the size of the problem the kids can then learn their reaction to the problem. Checking if our reaction is in tune with the size of the problem. This is true for us adults too where we sometimes overreact and worry too much for small problems.

3. Generate three (3) possible solutions

For older kids, we can directly jump to this step where they come up with two or more solutions for the problem.

4. Pick the best one to try

Here perspective taking also comes into place and the kids choose the best solution out of all the given ones based on" Is it the best way to solve this problem?", " Will my problem be solved?" "Will I hurt someone’s feelings?" , "What will be the consequence of my action?"

5. Try the solution and assess if it solved the problem.

Here, we can teach them how to review their solution to the problem. If it didn’t work what was the reason? What can you do differently next time?

It’s important to teach students to evaluate if the problem is actually solved because they may have to try multiple solutions until the problem is fixed.

Try breaking it down for them into these steps next time when you teach problem-solving to kids. Please comment below if have any questions or would like a specific deck or problem-solving worksheet that you would like.

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