Defiance is a normal part of child development, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not frustrating for parents who have to deal with their toddlers during this stage. “Kids (between 18 and 24 months) are realizing they can assert themselves and arguing with you is one way they gain confidence,” explains child psychiatrist Dr. John Sargent to Parents.
5 ways to practice problem-solving skills
If you find yourself constantly arguing with your toddler, or having to convince him to follow your requests, practicing problem-solving skills together can help put an end to the power struggle and get him to cooperate. Here are some ways to hone your child’s problem-solving skills.
1. Include your toddler in decision-making and encourage him to make his own decisions.
Does he always argue with you about what’s for breakfast? Look up recipes online and let him choose a new recipe that you can try.
Children are far more likely to go along with a solution they helped create. And apart from being an exercise in creative problem-solving, giving your child the freedom to choose can also help keep tantrums from happening.
2. Ask questions that encourage creative thinking skills that lead to problem-solving.
Kids are naturally curious, so when they begin looking for answers to questions or problems that they encounter, you can help them arrive at possible solutions. Don’t try and solve their problems for them — ask questions instead.
One way to encourage creative thinking is to brainstorm, according to Scholastic. Ask them to respond to questions that have many right answers but make sure to incorporate these questions into the interests that children are involved with and the situations they are in. For instance, if your child loves dinosaurs, you might ask them the kind of dinosaurs that only eat plants. If she loves trucks, ask her the kinds of trucks she knows, who operates trucks, and what she would do if she gets to drive one.
3. Let them play.
From time to time, leave them alone for independent play and let them entertain themselves. If you want, you can give them puzzles to put together, or building materials to play with. Pretend play is also a great way to hone problem-solving skills and boost brain development!
4. Model your own problem-solving skills.
You are your child’s role model, so you may also use your experiences to show them how to face challenges or difficult situations. For toddlers, you can keep it real but simple.
For example, “Today at work, I remember placing my favorite pen on my desk before I went out for a meeting. When I came back, it was gone!” Try and tell your story with “colorful language and animated storytelling,” according to The Globe and Mail to keep your toddler interested.
You can also talk while you are trying to solve a problem, so your child can listen and observe how you’ll tackle the situation. “Oh, no, I forgot my lunch at home again! Tomorrow, I will make sure to write a note and stick it on the door, so I’ll remember it before I leave.”
5. Allow for natural consequences.
When your toddler is too stubborn to listen, let her experience the consequences — this also helps teach problem-solving skills.
If you ask your toddler if she wants to wear a jacket over her shirt because it’s cold, and she says ‘no,’ then let her. When she complains about being cold, use it as an opportunity to teach her about the consequences of her decisions. Then, give her the jacket — which we know you brought anyway.
It's hard for parents to see their kids struggle but remember that when you resist the urge to rescue, you are helping your children develop resilience, confidence, and independence. These are skills they'll need to navigate life as an adult and succeed, and they'll definitely thank you in the future for teaching it.
Experts say extremely successful kids have this trait. Click here to know what it is — and help your child achieve it.