helping kids learn problem solving

Being involved…but not taking over

Nicole problem solving 2 Comments

There’s a very funny French & Saunders sketch called “Mothers and Kids” where two mothers plan a fun, hands-on day of arts and crafts for their children and then end up over managing the process to the point where they hold the paint brushes for them, dictate which colours they use and end up berating them for their ‘messy’ work…

We’ve probably all felt the temptation at one time or another to jump in to ‘help’ when our little ones are trying and failing to do a painting or making a model with pieces which clearly won’t fit together, but whilst being an involved parent is incredibly important, it is equally important to stand back and allow your child the chance to do things their own way.

Allowing children to find their own solutions to problems allows them to develop confidence in their own abilities. Over-managing play can dampen your child’s innate ability to work things out for themselves and can stifle their creativity.

There is growing unease about the phenomenon of helicopter parents who micro-manage every aspect of their children’s lives resulting in children who begin to underestimate their abilities. And it can start early. Today, it might be taking over their arts and crafts project; tomorrow it could be their HSC major assessment… If your son or daughter has never tried new or difficult things, they won’t know how to start or how to pick themselves up and try again. They’ll think they can’t do it.

Facing challenges are great opportunities for kids to grow. If we step in, we stop the learning process and run the risk of stunting our child’s growth. We need to learn to explain and guide but then step back and leave them to figure things out for themselves.

So how can we help our children develop their problem solving abilities from an early age? Puzzles are obviously a great place to start, as are hidden pictures books, dot-to-dot pictures, mazes, memory games and making patterns with beads and blocks. Our Shapeeze activity packs are another valuable resource, as they’re designed to be completed by the child with minimal parental supervision allowing them to develop their problem solving skills unaided.

Choosing which design to complete, selecting which shapes to push out and stick down and in what order are all important elements in decision making and also tap into their creative impulses while developing finger strength and fine motor skills. We have created each Shapeeze design to be a manageable size, allowing your child the satisfaction of completing a project to the end, important in encouraging your child to finish their creations and to foster the ability to stay on, and complete, tasks.

In this fast-moving world, our children will need to be resilient, quick thinking problem solvers able to work independently and confidently to thrive. As parents we need to remember that when we do something for our children which they can do themselves, we take and not give.

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