Problem Solving

Some children need a routine more than others. All busy families benefit from a bit of structure.


Poppy struggles with big feeling. She often lets her worries build up making it hard to focus on anything else.

One way Poppy and her family manage worries is by planning out what needs to be done in advance.

Talking about problem solving and laying out a plan, helps Poppy know what’s coming and what she needs to do while she’s managing her worries.

Does this sound like your child?


Why are routines so important?

Problem-solving is a great way to set children up for success. Learning to solve problems teaches children:
☻  Confidence to solve problems on their own
☻  Independence to know they can solve their problems when you aren’t around to help them
☻  What to do when they are met with a challenge
☻  Creates an opportunity for success in building relationships with others

When is a good time to work on problem solving?

Anytime that helps your family work together to accomplish a task. Model good problem-solving skills. Involve your child in the problem-solving- ask open-ended questions. Determine what the challenge is- what is making this situation a problem. Be creative!

Keep it positive- make learning to solve a problem into a game. If at first the plan doesn’t work… try again!

Problem solving is not perfect!

No- far from perfect. Problem-solving takes practice- work with your kids to give them opportunities to participate in solving challenges:
☻  Address the problem- talk about how you are feeling
☻  Listen- ask them how they think the problem could be solved
☻  Let them come up with some of the answers
☻  Break down the routine steps Use a visual to outline the task and what needs to be done
☻  Work with your child- this should be a positive, not a negative experience

Problem Solving

With an introduction and follow-up by Dr King at The Mary J. Wright Child and Youth Development Clinic, Faculty of Education, Western University.

Think about some strategies you and your child can try to help them self-regulate.

There’s no perfection in problem solving. The plan should be less about being perfect and more about having your child play an active role in solving the problem.


You want them to build confidence solving problems.
This comes with trial and error and lots of practice.

Creating a Plan

  • Creating a plan helps you and your child work together to manage big feelings in the future.
  • Print off the plan on the kids page (A morning without yelling) and come up with a plan together.
  • Take the plan with you ( print off or on your phone) so you can remember what you need to do when emotions start to rise. Don’t forget to bring Poppy for some extra support!

You can use this plan to explain to family, friends or care givers how you and your child are working together to overcome big feelings. Use it to communicate to your child’s school or family doctor too!

Things to remember when building a plan:

  • Address the problem. Validate their feelings. Tell them how you are feeling about the situation.
  • Get creative- listen to their suggestions
  • Print off the plan and post it or take it with you so everyone remembers what they need to do
  • What are the important things to remember? The key parts of the plan.
  • Determine the tough point- when does it get difficult- what are we going to do when that happens
  • Yes to success! Maybe next time- what do we need to do differently, or do we just need practice? Even the best plans need practice sometimes!

Look for opportunities to practice problem solving in everyday life with your child so you are ready to use those skills when they are faced with a challenge.

The Plan (example)

Working together to:

Find a solution to sharing the video games

What’s the problem?

Prep- what will today look like:

  • Saturday morning is the time set aside for playing video games.
  • Nobody wants to play the same game
  • Always fighting over who’s turn it is
  • The last two Saturdays the fighting has gotten so bad that the video game time has ended early

Fighting over who gets to play video games

How can we solve it?

Parent- help children come up with a plan :/strong>

  • Talk about the problem Friday night
  • What is the problem?
  • Listen to how everyone is feeling
  • Brainstorm some solutions
  • Get kids to agree to a plan
  • Print off plan to post Saturday morning

March 18. 2024

What is the solution?

Child- participating in finding a solution:

  • Talk about how you feel about the problem
  • Listen to everyone talk about their concerns
  • Come up with some ideas to solve the problem that are fair and take everyone’s feelings into consideration

Strategies we can use: Squeezing like a lemon, blowing up a balloon

Now It’s your turn!

  • Don’t forget to collaborate with your child and validate their feelings
  • Go to the kids page and help your child work through the activities in the Wendel library << #4: A morning without yelling! >>
This is your chance to work with your child to come up with a plan for next time. Work through the activities on this kids page together. They have been designed to help you start a conversation. Come up with a plan that works for everyone.

The important thing is you are trying and you’re working together.