Tag Archives: problem solving skills

teaching kids problem solving skills

When I designed the Wyatt book series, eight years ago, my goal was to teach children to be better problem solvers. As a school counselor in an elementary school, I spent most of my time helping kids solve problems. I didn’t want to just tell them what to do, but teach them how to think about the problem so they could figure it out for themselves the next time.

That goal hasn’t changed.  In fact, I think it is more important than ever that we equip students to learn effective problem solving strategies.

 What are the necessary steps to problem solving?

  1. Identify the problem-  The first step in any problem solving is awareness.  if you don’t recognize the problem it is hard to solve it.  We all know it is easier to see the problems in others than ourselves, so at least in part this means developing an openness to feedback and insight.
  2. Recognize the possibilities for growth and change-  It is always easier to stay in our own comfort zone and view the world through our own lens.  In order to solve problems though, we have to develop a willingness to move outside of that arena of knowledge and venture into the unknown.  This is where true creativity and insight develop.
  3. Recognize our strengths and our limits–  We are always most effective when we know what we do well and when we develop those skills.  It is equally important that we know our limitations and that we engage others in those areas where we need help and guidance.
  4. Develop team work-  it is essential that future problem solvers know how to work well with others.  The world has become a connected and interdependent place and successful problem solvers use all the interpersonal resources available to navigate complex problems.
  5. Develop a growth mindset–  Problem solvers are comfortable with change and growth.  They envision a positive solution even when it isn’t yet obvious how it will be accomplished.   They know that maintaining status quo means doesn’t solve problems.
  6.  Embody courage and commitment–  Problem solvers take action, sometimes imperfect action when they aren’t quite sure of the outcome of their efforts. Problem solvers don’t live life as victims but rather take action and effect change. They are resilient in the face of failure.  They know that each step moves them forward, even when they don’t yet have the answer to the problem.

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Wyatt’s Leadership Series for Kids

While supplies last… a $120 value for $95

Get all 7 Wyatt story books:

Wyatt Goes to Kindergarten

Wyatt Learns about Being Organized

Wyatt Learns about Winning

Wyatt Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt Learns about Friendship 

Wyatt Learns about Good Manners

Wyatt Learns about Giving


7 Lesson Plans based on Stephen Covey’s 7 habits of Highly Effective People


A set of problem situation cards to develop critical thinking skills in difficult situations

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5 easy steps kids can learn to problem solve on their own

Your best friend won’t sit with you on the bus.

You want to watch your favorite show on tv but you have homework to do.

Your pesky brother “borrows” your favorite board game and loses some of the pieces.

For children and adults, life is full of problems…

The best thing parents and educators can teach–is how to problem solve.  

Even pre-schoolers can begin to think through problems and consider choices.

Here are 5 easy steps to solve any problem:

  •  Clarify the problem: “Your brother played with your game and some pieces are missing?”
  •  Encourage him to consider the options:  “What could he do to fix the problem?  If he looks for the missing pieces and can’t find them, what else would help?”
  •  Try a solution. “So you are going to help him look in the play room for the missing pieces?”
  • Evaluate the outcome: “So he found the pieces under the couch?  Is the problem solved or do we need to try something else?”
  • Review the lesson learned: “So in the future you are are going to put your game away instead leaving it out on the floor and your brother is going to ask permission before he plays with your toys?”

The advantage of teaching problem solving skills rather than fixing every problem is that we are empowering children for the future.

This Week’s Grab ‘n Go Lesson Plan for Busy Educators:

Want a great lesson to use in the classroom on problem solving?

Click here:  Making Smart Choices and Problem Solving.

All of the Wyatt books are designed to teach children to be great problem solvers. In Wyatt Learns about Good Manners, Wyatt learns how to solve the problem of a bossy friend..

 Wyatt Learns about Good Manners

Wyatt is always wondering about something and lately it is how to get his friend, Max to change his bossy ways.  What can he do?  Join Wyatt as he considers some rather unusual options until he finally discovers that a heart to heart talk with Max can create a new friendship with an old friend. Wyatt_the_Wonder_Dog_Cover_Manners_Kindle

Grab your copy here:
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Good Manners