Have you ever been "In a pickle?"
Maybe you were "Up a creek without a paddle?"
Okay then you were "In a real bind?"
A family friend has a horse that got himself in a pickle. Fortunately he was able to get help from neighbors and get Roni over the fence.
Whatever it was, you had to do some problem solving. So many times kiddos will come to me and ask, "Mrs. K, what should I do?" My response is, "Well I'm not sure, it sounds like YOU have a real problem. What do you think you should to?"
Some kids have no idea and are used to adults solving their problems for them. The problem with this is that we are robbing from the kids the opportunity to learn how to solve problems on their own.
So how can we help kids learn to be problem solvers?
I have found these easy steps to follow:
When they tell you they have a problem and ask you what to do, ask them what they think they should do. Kids need to know that it is THEIR problem and not YOUR problem.
If they come up with ideas ask them how they think that would work for them. This allows them to look at the consequences of their choices or explore what actually could happen.
If they say they have NO IDEA what to do, ask them if they would like to know what some kids try. Of course they will say, YES!
When they say YES! give them the worst possible idea, which will make them give you a really strange look and gives you the chance to continue with other ideas.
It might sound something like this:
Student: "Mrs. K, Billy is being mean to me on the playground. He calls me names."
Mrs. K: "Oh, that must be tough. What are you going to do about it?"
Student: "Well I don't know."
Mrs. K: "Well what have you tried?"
Student: "Well I told the teacher and she told Billy to stop but he hasn't. So now I don't know what to do?"
Mrs. K: "Well do you want to hear what some kids have tried?"
Mrs. K: (give the worst idea first!) "Well some kids have made a really tight fist and popped the kid right in the nose. How do you think that would work for you?"
Student: "Well, that would be bullying and I might get caught."
Mrs. K: "Oooh, you are right on that. It probably wouldn't be fun to explain that to your parents or the principal. Well, how about calling him names back?"
Student: "I saw other kids do that and they got in trouble for that too."
Mrs. K: "Well, some kids try using the tools we talked about during guidance class. Remember them?"
Student: "I remember them."
Mrs. K: "Well do you think you could try to use one of the tools?"
Student: "I think so."
Mrs. K: "Great! I knew you were a smart problem solver. Hey, let me know how that works out for you. OK?"
By doing this you have empowered the child to solve his own problem on his own. Think of how great he will feel when he reports back to you how it worked. If he says that he tried something and it didn't work, do some more work the same way and maybe even role play with him.
I LOVE this technique---although sometimes it solves the problem and the kiddo forgets to come and tell you that it worked out so you might have to check in with him/her.
Have fun problem solving.