Helping Children to Problem-Solve

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Children face to face
02 Jun 2016

Children have the best ideas on how to deal with any problems that we may have and they love it when we ask for their input.

Children face to face

Involving kids in a problem solving session, helps increase their self-esteem, builds their cognitive flexibility muscles and teaches them that they are capable and can handle the little and big problems in life with a little thought and cooperation from the people around them.
Here is an example of how it is done:

The Problem:
Sara and Eli always seem to fight right when it is candle lighting time.
1. Tell yourself: “I am a good mother. I can handle this.”
2. Outline the problem:
(No judgments, accusations or lectures such as: You guys always misbehave during candle lighting! It is supposed to be peaceful and it never is peaceful!)

I have been thinking about Shabbos and how we can make it more peaceful.

I was thinking about candle lighting. I love to light my Shabbos candles and I need quiet to do it. What can we do to make sure that it is quiet at that time?

“We are a family that focuses on solutions!”
“We can figure solutions out together!”
“Let’s not accuse let’s focus on solutions!”

3. Listen to their feelings and comments:

“Well Eli always bothers me, right before you light candles. He always takes the book that I want and he doesn’t let me sit on my favorite spot on the couch!”

“Sara always bothers me too! I want to read my book and then she says its hers. She also always takes my toys!”

4. Summarize their point of view:

“It sounds like there was some issues with your books, toys and where to sit on the couch. Sounds like you are getting ready to settle in for your Shabbat playing and it gets a bit tricky. Just at that time is when I am lighting Shabbat candles and I want that quiet.”

5. Invite them to brainstorm with you to find a solution:

“I think if we put our heads together we can figure out a solution to this problem.”

“Let’s see if we can come up with any new ideas that might make sense to us on how to manage this problem.”

6. Write down all ideas- without evaluating:

a. I should be in charge of all the books
b. Sit in separate rooms
c. Get rid of Eli!
d. Get rid of Sara!
e. Light candles with me
f. Prepare books before hand
g. Decide who is going to sit where before Shabbat, maybe switch off every Shabbat?
h. Sara should not be allowed to use the books I pick out from the library
i. Sara should not be allowed to play with my legos
j. Eli needs to share his toys with me

7. Together decide which ideas you don’t like, which you do and how you plan to put them into action:

Does it make sense for someone to be in charge of the books? Do you think you can make it fair?
Sitting in separate rooms sounds good. What would that look like?
Fortunately you are both here to stay. I know sometimes It’s hard to live together- sometimes the people you love can get on your nerves!
I don’t want to light candles, that’s for girls.
Okay Sara would you like to light with me?
Can we come up with some sort of schedule for where each of you can sit on the couch?
Should we make the rule that you can only read the books you take out of the library? Is there a way that we can share the books? What kind of rules can you make up?
Sara, Eli does not want you playing with his legos. Can you find your legos? Can you find something else to do?
Eli, Sara feels that you should share all your toys with her. Is that right Sara?
The rule in our house is that we ask permission to play with each other’s’ toys. Eli, what if Sara asked your permission first? Would that work?
Can we find legos that Sara can play with?

8. Try it out- if it works great. If not go back to Step 1.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.