Problem Solving – A Learned Skill

February 15, 2022

The 21st century learning skills are often called the 4 C’s: critical thinking, creative thinking, communicating, and collaborating. These skills help students learn, and so they are vital to success in school and beyond.


The first among them, critical thinking goes hand-in-hand with problem solving, giving the act of thinking a logical closure. Problem solving is the process of identifying a problem, developing possible solution paths, and taking the appropriate course of action. It involves calm thinking, openness to consider options and respect other people’s needs, active listening, clear communication and compromise. It is a learned skill and can be developed by walking oneself through a series of steps.



1. Identify and state the problem

The first step in problem-solving is working out exactly what the problem is. This can help everyone understand the problem in the same way. It is best to get everyone who’s affected by the problem together and then put the problem into words that make it solvable.


2. Focus on the issue, not the blame

Help your child describe what’s causing the problem and where it’s coming from, why it is important to them and what could happen if a suitable solution is not reached quick enough. Encourage them to listen without arguing or judging. The focus is the issue, not the person nor the blame.


3. Brainstorm possible solutions to the problem

Make a list of all the possible ways you solve the problem. You’re looking for a range of possibilities, both sensible and not so sensible.


4. Evaluate the solutions to the problem

Look at the pros and cons of all the suggested solutions in turn. This way, everyone will feel that their suggestions have been considered. Cross out options that are a ‘no’ for all.


5. Put the solution into action

Once you’ve agreed on a solution, plan exactly how it will work. Figure out who will do what, when and the resources needed like things, time, advice/suggestions/clarifications etc.


6. Take stock after a few days

Remember to check back if things are working well. Have conversations on what you enjoy the most and who you are thankful to. Make it a point to share all things positive to sow the seeds of hope, satisfaction and joy.


It is often the case that the problem is not fully resolved or there is a new problem. Take only what you need from earlier and put on a fresh pair of glasses to work on the next.


Everybody needs to solve problems everyday. Remember there is no failure, only feedback!