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Teach Kids To Tackle Challenges: 5 Easy Ways To Nurture Problem-Solving

Do you want to empower your child to become a better problem solver and navigate challenges with confidence? (Of course you do!) We've got 5 simple steps for you to nurture those essential skills effectively.

Then, stick around for a hilarious conversation about the wild trends and obsessions of today's tweens. You’ll gain some valuable parenting insights and laugh out loud as we discuss the fascinating world of preteens.

Teach Kids To Tackle Challenges: 5 Easy Ways To Nurture Problem-Solving

Your Hosts

Caitlin and Jenny are experienced parents and educators with a heart for fostering children's problem-solving skills and personal responsibility. Their backgrounds in teaching and educational research combined with their relatable and down-to-earth approach, CK and GK are a valuable resource for parents seeking to nurture their children's problem-solving skills effectively.

This episode is about

  • Mastering effective strategies for nurturing children's problem-solving skills.

  • Validating children's emotions to build resilience and confidence.

  • Unleashing the power of creative thinking in children for adaptive problem-solving.

  • Empowering parents to navigate challenges in the digital age and foster resilience in their children.

You can develop problem-solving skills with these 5 steps

1: Recognize and affirm that problems are part of life.

Problems are just an expected part of everyday life! 

  • It's raining, so you can't go to the playground and need to find an indoor activity

  • You're out of peanut butter, so you have to find something else to eat for lunch 

  • You’re broke, so you have to pay for your own podcast 🤪

All solvable! 

Thinking about everyday obstacles this way sets you and your child up to approach challenging moments with a growth mindset. The more times they encounter problem-solving examples in their lives, the less overwhelming the challenge becomes.

2: Validate your child’s emotions.

You can help kids calm down by validating their emotions, which lets them know they’re seen and understood. (FYI, this works with everyone.)

Try something like, “You are working hard on this picture, and it’s so frustrating that the drawing doesn’t look the way you want it to” or “It stinks that your block tower fell down, I would feel ___ too.”

Encourage your child to find a physical release for their frustrations. Daniel Tiger has some great ideas!

3: Remind your child of another time that they calmed themselves down and persisted through a challenge.

All kids have problem-solving skills—they just forget about them!

Remind your child about a time when they

  • Rebuilt a LEGO creation that fell

  • Worked hard to figure out how to balance on a bike

  • Learned to love school after a rocky first month

This proves to your child that they can solve/deal with problems and maybe even demonstrate to them that they can apply those skills to other situations.

And along those lines… 4: “Spotlight the Right”

To quote Big Little Feelings’ Deena Margolin, Family Therapist:

“If you catch them in situations where they’ve had to try something two, three, four, five times to achieve their goal, I want you to spotlight that—to shout it out with them and celebrate!”


“Say, ‘Hey, you had to try that four different times before you got it, and you did not give up. Way to go!’” 

“What we’re doing is building this strong inner narrative that can stick with them about how sometimes you’re going to have to try multiple times before you get it, and you didn’t give up,” Margolin notes, “which not only makes them feel proud but becomes the key strategy that’s then top-of-mind for next time they’re in a tough or tricky situation.”

It may also help reframe the story in your mind to help focus on what your child is already doing right.

5: Help your child think through creative solutions.

Don’t worry, Dear Caregiver, there will be times when your child does need help to find a solution. 

But don’t immediately jump in with your solution.

Instead, start by asking your child for their ideas.

And then, before offering your input, ask your child if they would like to hear your ideas for solving the problem. 

Asking for permission to provide input demonstrates respect for your child’s boundaries and problem-solving skills. Who knows? Maybe they’ll listen to your suggestions.

And don’t forget:

“I NEED HELP” is not an ask, it’s a demand coming from a place of frustration. 

Foster Resilience in Your Child

Persistence and resilience are key traits for children to develop. In the face of problems, reminding children of their past successes can bolster their confidence and perseverance. Additionally, shifting the focus from the end result to the effort and process involved in problem-solving helps promote a strong sense of self-worth, setting the stage for long-term resilience.

Validate Your Child's Emotions for Resilience

Children are learning how to process and navigate their emotions. By acknowledging and validating their feelings, parents can provide emotional support while guiding their children toward healthier emotional regulation. Importantly, this approach fosters emotional intelligence, preparing children to deal with future challenges effectively.

Nurture Your Child's Problem-Solving Skills

In a changing world, equipping children with problem-solving skills is a must. By emphasizing the significance of approaching life’s bumps with a growth mindset, parents can foster resilience in their children. And, encouraging kids to think creatively about solutions nurtures their critical thinking skills while promoting independence and self-efficacy.

Use these tips when everyday challenges arise, you’ll find that both you and your child will start to manage emotional reactions and work through problems.

Sources for this episode

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