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Do your children become overwhelmed by problems, big or small? Do problems make them either rebel or withdraw? The simple process of regularly playing some games can train them to be more resilient.
In today's high-octane world, even children as young as preschoolers often find themselves unable to cope with demands, both academic and social. The problems could range from perceived expectations regarding academic performance to matters of routine, like finishing a meal within a prescribed time. These issues will only increase with age. The good news is, children can be equipped in a fun way from very early years to deal with pressures and problems.
As parents and teachers, we must be able to spot the danger signals our children send, and take corrective action. Here are a few behavioural changes to watch out for:
If you notice worrying signs, don't panic. Instead, introduce your little ones to some games and puzzles. They teach strengths to solve or overcome problems, and reinforce positive behaviour in a fun way.
Even if your child does not display any signs of distress, it is good to strengthen his critical and creative thinking skills, which are essential for problem-solving, and will hold him in good stead later in life.
Problem-solving skills are related to the cognitive skill development of a child. Acquiring these skills in the early stages of life helps a child to build up not only his creative thinking skills but also his critical thinking skills.
Children develop the ability to deal with problems in stages. When they are about six months old, they start looking for reactions to their actions, learning cause and effect. By the time a child completes her third year, she starts relying on her memory to solve problems that she has already handled or has seen adults around her handle.
Research suggests that interactive games can be the best method to inculcate the ability to cope with problems. As fun activities, children easily accept them.
There are a number of activities that can help your child develop or enhance her problem-solving skills. Here are a few examples:
1. Sorting Tub: This game requires children to pick up objects hidden in a tub of sand, identify similarities with those picked up by others, and form groups based on that similarity.
2. Skyscraper: The aim is to build the tallest possible free-standing tower out of blocks. This is similar to Jenga, the game which requires one to pull out already placed blocks and continue to build up a tower.
3. Tangrams: These can be used to teach children to think and make changes in their ideas to achieve desired results.
4. The listening game: It involves letting the child handle objects of various shapes and textures, and explaining the unique characteristics of those shapes and textures. Spoons, paper, combs and sandpaper are some of the objects that can be used.
5. Simon says: This is a traditional game in which children gather in a circle around one child, who is known as 'Simon'. They have to follow 'Simon's' instructions, but only if the instructions are preceded by the words, 'Simon Says'.
6. Obstacle race: In this race, the winning parameters are neither time nor speed but the ability to avoid obstacles.
Both parents and teachers must acknowledge the importance of instilling problem-solving skills in children from a very young age. Schools can conduct workshops for parents on various games that enhance the social, emotional and cognitive skills that will build a strong foundation of problem-solving ability in their children.
The author is the founder of the Brainy Bear Pre-School and Activity Club.
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