The Problem-Solving Approach For Children

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show
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Now that the kids have gone back to school, how can problem solving allow children to succeed in school? Larry Meiller finds out what to do to help kids make the transition from a long summer vacation to an organized schedule.

Featured in this Show

  • Psychologist: Let Children Think Through Their Own Bad Behavior

    In the world of modern parenting, Dr. Myrna Shure says today’s psychologists mostly advise against “negative” or “power”-based approaches to discipline — “yelling and threatening the child.” Instead they’re probably likely to suggest that parents explain why a certain behavior is wrong: “You know, you really ought to ask him for the toy. If you hit him, you might hurt him, and then you won’t have any friends.”

    But according to Shure, herself a developmental psychologist and author, that method has problems of its own. After being repeatedly told not to do something, she said, children just tune the message out. Her solution: something she calls the “problem-solving approach” to discipline.

    “The problem-solving approach really teaches children how to think about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, and how it affects not only other people but how it affects themselves,” said Shure.

    It basically boils down to asking questions, she said. If a child is jumping on a couch, for example, Sure suggested asking them what the outcome might be.

    “And it doesn’t matter if he says, ‘I’ll get it dirty,’ or if he says, ‘I might fall and hurt myself,’” said Shure, explaining that whatever the response is, the follow up is: “Can you think of a different place to jump so that won’t happen?”

    “And you know, most children get on the floor and start jumping on the floor. And it’s fine, without, you know, telling him what to do or suggesting where he should jump or telling him to stop or explaining why he shouldn’t jump on the couch,” Shure said.

    Even with very young children, Shure said, letting them solve problems on their own will have a lasting impact.

    “I think most parents can recognize that the more you do the talking and the thinking, the less the child is listening,” said Shure.

  • Developmental Psychologist Offers Tips Toward Assisting A Child's Success

    Raising the smartest and most creative child is favored in today’s society and learning those skills aren’t as easy as some parents might think. However, providing enough room for free play can help children gain the personal and professional skills for the future, according to a prominent psychologist.

    Richard Rende, a developmental psychologist, researcher and consultant, encourages parents to prepare their little ones with entrepreneurial skills in his new book, “Raising Can-Do Kids.” With co-author Jen Prosek, Rende examines the cognitive, personal and social skills that children can gain through the challenges and opportunities parents can allow in their lives.

    On the forefront of a parents’ mind is the future of their children’s college graduation and the difficulties in finding a career. Rende emphasizes that the world is constantly changing and will redefine the types of employment.

    “No matter what you specialize in college, there isn’t a one to one between what you learn through education and type of work you have to do,” Rende said. “What is happening is that kids are going to have creative enough to create their own jobs and mixture of work, as oppose to saying, ‘here is my degree, now where is my job.’”

    A key point that Rende underlines in his book is the importance of free play. In a child’s freedom to choose different activities and makes further decisions, their cognitive development is increased and can help build a knowledge of passion and pleasure.

    Cognitively, free play is going to provoke innovative ideas, problem-solving skill sets. Rende said children need activities where there isn’t a right or wrong answer.

    “Bottom line is, all those things we prize are children to have, to be innovative, resilient, self-motivated, really happens in free time,” Rende said. “When you cut out those opportunities, we are short circuiting their ability to develop the way they should develop.”

    In addition, these skills that are being developed during a needed free play, can be later expressed in personal and professional achievement, like entrepreneurs.

    As stated in the book, this entrepreneurial spirit composes of three core components: curiosity, exploration and discovery.

    The book turns toward the idea that kids should be self-motivated, self-directed and explore their next steps. Not all children are going to have these skills, but as Rende said, they are important to have and develop at a young age.

    “In those times when you are pursing something, you are not always going to get rewarded immediately, the way entrepreneurs are just going to work, work and work with no return for a long time,” Rende said. “That is fuel for children.”

Episode Credits

  • Larry Meiller Host
  • Cheyenne Lentz Producer
  • Rebecca Haas Producer
  • Myrna Shure Guest
  • Jenny Wehmeier Guest
  • Richard Rende Guest