Column by Tutu and Me
Being able to effectively solve problems is a survival skill critical to the complex world in which we live. Problems exist everywhere, and in every situation. We must give our children many opportunities to practice solving their own problems. Practice makes perfect. The more practice they have, the better problem solvers they become.
In no way does this mean that we as caregivers relinquish our duty to guide our children. It does mean that we, as caregivers, have an important duty to help our children become skillful problem-solvers. And although thinking through problems together with our children takes more time and patience than just solving the problems for them, it is worth doing.
At Tutu and Me Traveling Preschool, most activities are purposely open-ended. This in turn allows children and their caregivers to try out ideas, see what works, make decisions, and try out new solutions.
Try This at Home:
• Step back from a conflict that your baby might be having such as at feeding time. See how baby figures out how to get the Cheerio into their mouth.
• Step back from a conflict that your pre-school child might be having with another child over negotiating a toy. Does your keiki stay and have a tug-of-war over the toy? Or do they walk away to find another toy?
• Observe and be ready to help by offering words of encouragement and direction when needed.
• Offer keiki choices only when it seems that decisions can’t be made on their own.
• Remind your keiki about the “rules” of using words when disagreements are encountered.
• Let your child witness you solving problems for yourself. Talk to her about your dilemmas and how you resolved it. An example could be: “I was so angry with Papa that I had to go outside to cool off!” This is a powerful strategy.
Remember, problem-solving is a life skill that is critical to survival, success and happiness in our world.
Contributions from Tutu and Me Traveling Preschool, a program of Partners in Development Foundation. Tutu and Me is funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education.