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Developing Decision Making & Problem-Solving Skills in Kids

Article by Auriel Blanche


Thursday, March 31, 2016

Maths being performed on a black board

Picture credit: Jeshoots Com of unsplash

High self-esteem and confidence are associated with an individual’s positive analysis of their own abilities and potentials. How we deal with our personal situations; how we overcome challenges and cope with what the world throws at us will form the foundations for how we choose to live our lives. The problem solving and decision making that we do during our developmental years is fundamental to how we feel we can deal with life. It is in the early years that we develop and start understanding our own capabilities.

Eileene Welker of Ohio State University states Some research has shown that those who are able to evaluate a situation and make a decision are often more successful in life.” An article discussing tips for developing healthy self-esteem in your child (coordinated by Dr. Robert Brooks and The Campaign for Learning Disabilities) says High self-esteem is associated with solid problem-solving skills. For example, if your child is having difficulty with a friend, you can ask her to think about a couple of ways of solving the situation. Don't worry if your child can't think of solutions immediately; you can help her reflect upon possible solutions. Also, try role-playing situations with your child to help demonstrate the steps involved in problem solving.” It is so important that we all feel of real value – good about ourselves.   

If a child gets used to facing and overcoming   small challenges, problems, and decisions, this will help them develop confidence in their own ability to overcome the larger problems that they may have to face in the future.  It is important that we help our children focus on their strengths and abilities, rather than their weaknesses. The best way to do this is to support and guide them in making their own choices and so understand that they are able to help themselves. Needless to say, they must also be helped to understand that making a so called inappropriate or “the wrong decision” and making mistakes is all part of learning, not the end of the world, It is ok to make mistakes and most people seen as successful in society had to learn this way too. Wayne Parker, author of Helping Your Children Make Good Decisions, states: Taking the time to walk your children through the process of making a decision will help them learn the best way to decide. Remember, they will learn more from a little trial and error than they will if you make every decision for them. Having strong problem solving and decision-making skills will help your children learn what they need to be strong decision makers in their adult life.”

The Centre for Effective Parenting states “Help your children develop good problem-solving skills. When children face a significant problem parents should take the opportunity to teach effective problem-solving strategies. They should start by helping their children clearly define the exact problem. Then parents should have their children generate a list of possible solutions (not evaluating them at this stage). Once a list of solutions is generated, parents should have their children go through each possibility and evaluate its potential for success. Once all the solutions have been evaluated parents should encourage their children to choose what appears to be the best solution. Parents should encourage and praise their children for the use of effective problem-solving strategies.”

Developing good problem solving and decision-making skills are essential for everyone to live happier more successful lives and feel confident to fulfil their potential and above all to feel that they have a choice in life. And by successful, I mean whatever success means to that particular individual.  In the words of the famous and talented Michel Jordan who never gave up on his dream and tackled every obstacle in front of him while he reached success… "Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it."  So, help your child develop a really strong pride in their own value. Encourage, and support them in independent problem solving and decision making.   Guide them to learn to make decisions that are right for them and will lead them to achieve their potential and live the happy confident lives that they choose.