Problem-solving skills
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Teaching young children problem-solving skills

Being a little kid is hard sometimes, everything around you is so big, you can’t reach things that you want, and it’s hard to explain your needs because you just haven’t built the vocabulary yet! This is particularly hard when things go wrong, you don’t get what you want, or someone takes it away from you, and no one seems to listen, so you yell louder, and if that doesn’t work, well throw something! It’s tantrum time! That’s when it’s time for parents and caregivers to step in and provide some calming guidance!

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One of the best ways for small children to learn about how to control their emotions and deal with their problems better is to place them in a friendly, supportive environment with other kids their age like the Ballarat early learning centre, where well-trained early childhood educators can model good behaviour and provide thoughtful guidance, fostering the development of problem-solving skills. Being part of a community and learning to socialise at a young age puts children on the right course for becoming happy, successful adults with great interpersonal relationships!

A child who throws a tantrum to solve a problem feels frustrated by unwelcome events that are out of their control, and doesn’t have the tools to cope with them yet. Learning to better verbalise their feelings is an important step toward adopting positive problem-solving skills. Let’s look at a few strategies that you can teach your preschoolers to better handle life’s conflicts.

Strategies to teach young children positive problem-solving skills

Practise talking about feelings

Young kids react immediately to events that upset them, and yell at, or even physically strike at the perceived tormentor. The solution to those negative behaviours is to practice talking about feelings with them in a calm way. Teach them to use “I feel” as a conflict resolution tool. “I feel sad when you call me bad names. Please don’t do that.” This will calm the situation down, and maybe even elicit an apology!

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Model empathy

Little problems with friends feel big to small children! When they come to you with their grievance, it’s important that you listen carefully, make close eye contact, and be empathetic. “It sounds like you are upset with your friend. It’s OK to be upset sometimes!” Don’t feel that you must solve every problem for them, in fact it’s better not to! By listening and modelling empathy you are giving them the tools to develop their problem-solving skills and do it themselves!



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Brainstorming solutions

Instead of just telling a child how to fix a problem, let them think it through for themselves, you may be surprised at how many good solutions they come up with on their own! Help them to make a list, then let them choose a solution they want to try! Once the issue is resolved, they will feel proud that they did it mostly on their own, building self-esteem along with their problem-solving skills!

Of course, there are times when you as the parent or childcare provider must step in if things are growing too out of hand, but the more you can teach children to work things out for themselves, the less often intervention becomes necessary!

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Equipping young children with problem-solving skills is a valuable gift that sets them up for success throughout their lives. By providing a supportive environment where they can learn from peers and empathetic adults, children can develop the emotional vocabulary to express their feelings and the confidence to brainstorm solutions.

This doesn’t mean they won’t need help sometimes, but the more they practice navigating conflicts and challenges on their own, the more adept they become at problem-solving. As they grow, these skills will translate into better communication, stronger relationships, and the ability to tackle life’s obstacles with resilience and resourcefulness. So, the next time your little one faces a hurdle, remember ā€“ a little guidance can go a long way in fostering a lifetime of effective problem-solving!


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