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Problem Solving for Kids: How-To Guide, Activities & Strategies

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Children need to be able to solve their own problems. In daily life, kids face a lot of set of social circumstances and challenges. Whether they’re trying to figure out how to make friends, deal with bullies, or solve academic problems, they need strong problem-solving skills to be successful.

Problem-solving is a critical life skill that all kids need to learn. By teaching them how to identify and solve problems on their own, you’ll be setting them up for success in school and in life.

What are Social Problem-Solving Skills?

Social problem-solving skills are a skill set that involves behavioral and cognitive processes which allow an individual to find adaptive and positive ways of handling problematic situations that can arise in the social environment in our daily life. These skills comprise an understanding of emotions, empathy, self-awareness, prosocial behavior, anger management, perspective-taking, establishing positive relationships, and so on.

Why It’s Important for Children to Learn the Skills to Problem-Solve

Social problem-solving skills are important for kids to learn because they allow them to cope with the various challenges they face in their social environments, such as peer pressure, bullying, and exclusion from social groups. In addition, these skills can help them resolve conflicts effectively and build positive relationships with others.

How to teach Problem-Solving skills

There are many ways to develop social problem-solving skills in kids. One way is to provide them with opportunities to practice these skills through different activities and games.

There are a few key things that parents and educators can do to help kids develop strong problem-solving skills:

Teach Children to Identify the Problem

One of the most important steps in solving any problem is being able to accurately identify what the problem is. This can be tricky for kids, especially if they’re feeling emotional about the situation. Help them by teaching them how to take a step back and look at the problem objectively.

Help Kids Brainstorm Solutions

Once kids can identify the problem, it’s time to start brainstorming possible solutions. This is where creativity and out-of-the-box thinking come in handy. Encourage kids to think of as many possible solutions as they can, no matter how far-fetched they might seem.

Help Kids Weigh the Pros and Cons

After Children can come up with a few potential solutions, it’s time to help them figure out which one is the best option. This is where critical thinking comes in. Teach kids how to weigh the pros and cons of each solution and make a decision based on logic, not emotions.

Help Kids Implement the Solution

The final step is helping kids actually implement the solution they’ve chosen. This might involve role-playing different scenarios, practicing what they would say or do, or writing out a plan. Whatever the case, be sure to provide support and guidance every step of the way.

Praise Kids

It’s essential to praise your child when they demonstrate social problem-solving skills. This will help him feel confident in his abilities and encourage him to continue using these skills.

Also, proper guidance and opportunities to practice problem-solving skills should be provided for kids to be efficient enough to solve problems on their own. In addition to providing opportunities for practice, it is also important to model problem-solving skills for your child. 

By following these tips, you can help your child develop strong social problem-solving skills that will serve him well throughout his life.

Problem-solving in Child Development

Most children go through similar phases of problem-solving as they develop. However, the timing may vary depending on the child’s individual temperament and circumstances.

Here are some common milestones:

  • Ages 2-3: During the age of 2-3 years, kids begin to understand that problems can be solved. They also start to develop a sense of self-control and can begin to use words to express their emotions.
  • Ages 3-4: By 3-4 years old, kids are usually better at problem-solving and can use more logical thinking. They’re also beginning to understand other people’s feelings and perspectives.
  • Ages 4-5: Around 4-5 years old, kids can usually think of multiple solutions to a problem. They’re also starting to understand the concept of cause and effect.
  • Ages 5-6: By 5-6 years old, most kids can apply problem-solving skills in their everyday lives. They’re also able to understand complex emotions and empathize with others.
  • Ages 6-7: Around 6-7 years old, kids are usually able to understand even more complex emotions. They’re also starting to see the world from other people’s perspectives and can use this knowledge to solve problems.
  • Ages 7-8: By 7-8 years old, kids are often able to solve problems quickly and efficiently. They’re also able to think abstractly and see the world from multiple perspectives.
  • Ages 8-9: Around 8-9 years old, kids are usually able to solve problems independently. They’re also beginning to understand the concept of time and how it can be used to solve problems.
  • Ages 9-10: By 9-10 years old, kids are often able to solve complex problems. They’re also able to think abstractly and see the world from multiple perspectives.
  • Ages 10-11: Around 10-11 years old, kids are usually able to solve problems independently. They’re also beginning to understand the concept of time and how it can be used to solve problems.
  • Ages 11-12: By 11-12 years old, kids are often able to solve complex problems. They’re also able to think abstractly and see the world from multiple perspectives.
  • Ages 12-13: Around 12-13 years old, kids are usually able to solve problems independently. They’re also beginning to understand the concept of time and how it can be used to solve problems.

As children get older, they should be able to solve more complex problems. If you’re concerned about your child’s problem-solving abilities, talk to their doctor or a child development specialist.

 Social Problem-Solving Strategies

There are several strategies that can help children of primary age to solve problems. Some of them are as follows:

  • Encouraging children to take turns and share. This strategy helps children to be more patient and to understand that other people have feelings too. It also allows them to share their own feelings and thoughts more openly.
  • Helping children to understand and express their emotions. This strategy helps children to identify and understand their own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It also allows them to express their emotions in a more positive way.
  • Teaching children how to compromise. This strategy helps children to understand that sometimes it is necessary to give up something in order to get something else. It also teaches them how to negotiate and how to reach an agreement with others.
  • Encouraging children to think about other people’s perspectives. This strategy helps children to understand that other people have different points of view. It also allows them to see the world from another person’s perspective and to empathize with others.
  • Helping children to understand and follow rules. This strategy helps children to understand that there are certain rules that must be followed in order to maintain order and peace. It also teaches them how to respect the rules of others.
  • Teaching children how to improve their skills to problem-solve. This strategy helps children to understand that there are many ways to solve a problem. It also teaches them how to think creatively and to come up with their own solutions.

These are just a few of the social problem-solving strategies that can help children of primary age to solve problems. For more information, please talk to your child’s doctor or a child development specialist.

Social Problem-Solving Skills Activities

Games and activities for socialization are an excellent way for children for learning how to behave in social surroundings such as school or in the community.

It is essential for children to learn how to take turns, share, cooperate and resolve conflicts.

Here are some activities to improve social problem-solving skills for children of different age groups:

Social Problem-solving Activities for Preschoolers

Preschoolers are very young and need a lot of help to learn social problem-solving skills. The following activities are fun and will help them develop problem-solving skills.

  1. Circle Time: This is a great activity for kids to learn how to take turns and share. Give each child a turn to be in the center of the circle and share something about themselves such as their favorite color, food, animal, etc.
  2. Simon Says: This classic game is a great way for kids to listen and follow instructions. It also helps with problem-solving skills as they have to figure out what Simon is saying.
  3. Role-Playing: This is a great activity for kids to learn how to resolve conflicts. Have kids act out different scenarios such as sharing toys or taking turns. After each scene, discuss what happened and how the conflict could have been resolved.

Social Problem-solving Activities for Kindergarteners

Kindergarteners are still very young. So, they may need assistance when it comes to social problem-solving skills.

The following activities will give them a chance to practice these skills in a safe and fun environment.

  1. Cooperative Building: Have the kids work together in small groups to build towers or houses out of blocks or Legos. This activity will help them learn to share, take turns, and cooperate with others.
  2. Role-Playing: Act out different social situations with puppets or toys. For example, one child can be the customer in a store and the other children can take turns being the salesperson. This activity will help kids learn how to handle different social situations.
  3. Feelings Matching: Cut out pictures of people with different facial expressions from magazines or newspapers. Ask the kids to match the pictures with the corresponding feeling words (e.g., happy, sad, mad, etc.). This activity will help kids learn to identify and understand different emotions.

Social Problem-solving Activities for School-Aged Kids

As kids get older, they become more independent and are able to handle more complex social situations.

The following activities will help them practice their social problem-solving skills.

  1. Brainstorming: This activity can be done individually or in a group. Give your child a scenario and have them come up with as many solutions as possible. For example, “Your best friend just cancelled your play date. What are three things you could do?”
  2. Exercising empathy: It’s important for kids to be able to empathize with others and see things from their perspective. When they’re struggling to solve a problem, help them think about how the other person is feeling. For example, “Your friend might be feeling upset too. Maybe you can talk to her about why she cancelled the play date.
  3. Problem Solving Games: Games are a fun way to teach children the skills of solving problems. Try playing some classic board games like Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, which require players to make decisions and strategize. There are also many great online games, like Mission to Mars and Robot City, that help kids practice problem-solving.
  4. Discussing Problem-Solving Skills: As a family, discuss different problem-solving strategies. For example, “If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed or don’t know what to do, take a deep breath and think about what would be the best thing to do in that situation.”
  5. Model Good Problem-Solving Skills: As a parent, you are your child’s biggest role model. So, it’s important to model good problem-solving skills yourself. Whenever you’re faced with a problem, talk aloud about how you’re going to solve it. For example, “I’m having trouble finding my keys. I think I’ll check the couch first and then look in the car.”
  6. Encourage positive thinking: Help your child look on the bright side by encouraging them to think of the positive outcomes of a situation. For example, “Even though your play date was cancelled, you now have some free time to do something else you enjoy.
  7. Practice: It’s important to give kids opportunities to use their problem-solving skills in everyday life. When they’re faced with a social challenge, take a step back and let them try to figure it out on their own. Of course, be there to support them if they need help.

Social Problem-solving Activities for High-School Students 

High-school students often face a variety of social problems. They may have difficulty making friends, fitting in with classmates, or dealing with bullies.

Some students may also struggle with more serious issues, such as gangs, drugs, or violence.

There are a number of activities that can be used to help high-school students with improving their social problem-solving skills. These are as follows:

  1. Peer Mediation: This activity involves two or more students who are in conflict with each other. The mediator(s) helps the students to communicate with each other and find a resolution to the problem.
  2. Role-Playing: This is a great activity for helping high-school students to understand different perspectives. Students can take on the role of the person they are in conflict with, and then discuss how they would feel in that situation.
  3. Problem-Solving Groups: These groups usually consist of 4-6 students who meet to discuss a particular problem. The group leader(s) helps the students to brainstorm solutions and come up with a plan of action.
  4. Attending Debates: Debates can be a great way for high-school students to learn about different perspectives on social issues. Students can also practice their own argumentative and problem-solving skills by participating in debates.
  5. Service Learning: This is a type of community service that helps high-school students to understand and address social problems. Students typically work with organizations that focus on issues such as poverty, homelessness, or hunger.

Cultivating Resilience in Children

Developing resilience in children is a key aspect of nurturing their emotional health and equipping them to face life’s challenges head-on. It involves helping them understand that difficulties and setbacks are a normal part of life, and they can grow stronger from overcoming them.

By fostering a secure and loving environment, and by being role models of resilience ourselves, we can instill in children the ability to adapt to change and cope with stress.

One effective method to cultivate resilience in children is by encouraging them to express their feelings and thoughts openly.

Providing a safe space where they feel heard and understood helps them to understand their emotions better, which is a crucial step in resilience building. It’s important to validate their feelings, not minimize them, as it teaches them that it’s normal to experience different emotions, and it’s okay to discuss them.

Another significant way to build resilience is by teaching problem-solving skills. Guiding children through the process of identifying a problem, brainstorming possible solutions, choosing the best one, and reflecting on the outcome can equip them with valuable life skills.

As they practice, they will become more adept at facing challenges, whether big or small, and this boosts their confidence and self-efficacy. The beauty of resilience is that it isn’t an inherent trait; it’s a skill that can be learned and cultivated, one challenge at a time.


Teaching social problem-solving skills can help high-school students learn how to handle these types of situations. These skills can also help them in other areas of their lives, such as dealing with family conflict or managing their emotions.

Through these activities, high-school students can learn important problem-solving skills that will help them in their everyday lives.

There are many different activities that you can do to help your child develop problem-solving skills. Choose activities that are appropriate for your child’s age and interests.

And, most importantly, have fun!


Tips, D. (2022). Developing Problem-Solving Skills for Kids | Strategies & Tips | Kodable Blog. Retrieved 6 June 2022, from

How to Teach Problem-Solving Skills to Children and Preteens. (2022). Retrieved 6 June 2022, from,the%20process%20of%20problem%2Dsolving.

Teaching Kids How to Solve Their Own Problems and Make Good Decisions. (2022). Retrieved 6 June 2022, from

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srivastava, m., & srivastava, m. (2022). 12 Problem-Solving Activities For Toddlers And Preschoolers. Retrieved 6 June 2022, from

20 Evidence-Based Social Skills Activities and Games for Kids. (2022). Retrieved 6 June 2022, from

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