How to Develop a Problem-Solving Mindset in Children?

A problem-solving mindset is vital for children especially if they are to excel at school. Earning good grades alone may not be sufficient to equip them with all the life skills necessary to face challenges head on and come out victorious. Steam Education is also a good option to learn creatively outside the classroom.

This article aims to help parents expand their child’s problem-solving skill repertoire so that they can take on and overcome day-to-day challenges and bigger life obstacles.

Adults can benefit from having a problem-solving mindset too. By allowing our children to think for themselves, we are also preparing them to become independent and responsible individuals who know how to set achievable goals and work towards achieving them. Even in the absence of adults, they will be able to problem solve on their own.

Problem Solving Is A Process:

Before we can develop a child’s problem-solving mindset, it is vital that parents first understand the process of problem solving themselves. This way, they will be able to form an effective plan for training children to become proficient in this vital life skill.

There are five steps in the problem solving process:

  1. Define The Problem –

Identify exactly what it is that you need to solve. If your children can’t describe the problem, ask them how they think the situation could be improved. 

  1. Brainstorm Solutions – 

Come up with as many solutions as possible. It is okay if some of them are ridiculous, the process of coming up with all possibilities will help your children to generate a well-rounded list of practical solutions.

  1. Prioritize The Solutions –

Shortlist the most workable options and decide on a top pick.

  1. Anticipate Challenges And Set Up A Plan Of Action –

Work out possible obstacles that can crop up and come up with a solution for them. If you don’t think of this beforehand, the challenge may stop your children in their tracks.

  1. Act And Evaluate –

Once your plan is put into action, see what works and what needs reworking.

Parents should encourage their children to complete each step before moving on to the next one. This way, they will be able to develop a more thorough understanding of the problem-solving process.

Teaching Kids to Be Resourceful:

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It is important that children are taught to look for solutions independently first before parents step in to help them come up with ideas. The following are some practical lessons that can be taught at home to help develop a problem-solving mindset in children:

  • Build Their Confidence By Giving Them Opportunities To Try Things Out Alone First:

Parents should not jump in and take over every time their children are faced with challenges. Letting them solve problems on their own will boost their self confidence, improve their decision-making skills and make them more resourceful.

Consider how you would handle the situation. What advice would you give? Think of this as your cue to introduce your children to a variety of solutions and what each one entails. Let them know that there is always more than one way to get things done and it’s up to them which one they want to take on.

  • Encourage Them To Ask For Help:

It is important that parents do not rush their children into doing everything on their own. In the event that a solution still eludes them, encourage them to ask for help from you or another adult. Teach them how to word it politely and don’t immediately take over if they fail to phrase it correctly.

  • Reinforce Concepts Like Trial And Error:

Explain to your children that this is a useful way of figuring out the solution and how it can be applied to real life situations they face daily. For example, you may tell them that if they dropped a glass and it broke, the next time they have to bring up the topic of how to handle breakable objects around the house, they know that it is best not to leave them within reach.

  • Give Them Opportunities To Ask Questions:

Above all, do not discourage children from asking questions about anything regardless of how simple it may seem. Not only does this encourage them to think critically but it also helps them to be more inquisitive about the world.

Practical Activities To Develop A Problem-Solving Mindset In Children:

  • Create A Game Plan

This is a fun outdoor game that can help your children develop their problem-solving skills. Divide the children into teams and assign each one a different task, for example, building a snowman, building a house of cards or stacking cups. They have to work together as a team to create their structure within the time limit. The more creative they are with their solutions, the better!

  • Build A Tower

Collect a variety of items like blocks, empty boxes and pillows and set them in the children’s play area. Open up a discussion about how they can use these materials to build the highest tower that will stand without falling over. The rules are simple – no tape or glue allowed! As you get ready to leave the playroom, watch how they come up with different strategies and ways to build their towers.

  • Create A Solution To The Problem Of ‘The Dirty Sock’

Sit down with your children and explain what a problem is. For example, if one child’s sock falls on the floor and doesn’t get picked up quickly enough, it becomes a problem for the whole family. Ask them what they think the best solution to this problem would be and offer ideas that can help them come up with one.


Taking the time to teach children problem solving skills at a young age can help them develop practical thinking and useful decision making abilities. This not only helps them to handle day-to-day activities more efficiently, but it also boosts their self confidence and develops their personal growth.

As you go through the process of teaching your child about critical things like problem solving, you will soon see how it enhances their ability to think in an innovative manner.

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