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  • Writer's pictureJasmine K.Y. Loo

20 Questions to Help Improve Your Child’s Problem-Solving Skills

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

20 Questions to Help Improve Your Child’s Problem-Solving Skills

From time to time, parents might feel like pulling their hair out trying to teach their children alternative ways of responding to a situation.

At times, you might feel worn out and helpless when it seems like they just wouldn't listen.

They still scream in rage when they don’t get their way. They might demand to take a sick day because of something in school they wanted to get out of. Maybe there are more tears than you ever thought possible over what appears like a trifling matter. Perhaps they have punched someone in a moment of fury.

Problem solving skills involve a complex set of abilities that improve along with the maturation of children’s brain throughout their development. Some examples of the skills involved are in controlling impulses , planning and analysing.

By asking, instead of telling, parents can stimulate children to assess their situations and their experiences, as well as guide and scaffold their learning in coming up with novel and more adaptive ways of responding to situations. It can also help lower children's defensiveness because they wouldn't feel like they are being told off or being nagged at.

Through the use of thought-provoking questions, children often feel more empowered and are more open to alternative solutions because they are the product of their own reasoning.

Here are 20 questions that can help you scaffold your child’s problem solving abilities:

1. “What do you think the problem is?”

2. “What bothers you the most about this?”

3. “Do you think we/they are trying to be mean to you when we/they said no?”

4. “What is the most important thing for you in this case?”

5. “What do you really want to get out of this/what do you most want to achieve?”

6. “What are some of your options (choices, alternatives) here?”

7. “What could happen if you were to do that? Is that what you hoped for?”

8. “What are some possible benefits (gains, advantages) of doing that?”

9. “What are some possible downsides (risks, problems, costs) of doing that?”

10. “What are some changes that we can make to improve/solve this?”

11. “What might happen if you do this? What might happen if you don’t?”

12. “What could you do to better care for yourself in this situation?”

13. “Do you want me to work on this problem together with you?”

14. “Who can you reach out to for some help solving this problem?”

15. “Who can you talk to for support?”

16. “What would you do differently next time, if this happens again?”

17. “If your good friend is going through this problem, what would you suggest to him/her?”

18. “What helped the last time when you had a problem like this?”

19. “What did not help when you went through something like this last time?”

20. “What can you do to keep calm until you think of a solution/way?”

Does your child tend to find it challenging to engage in problem solving and react impulsively? A psychologist can teach them some practical strategies to enhance their problem solving skills. You can get in touch with me through the Contact Us page above.

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