Help your teen overcome obstacles in everyday life by encouraging him to develop the conflict resolution, critical thinking, communication and teamwork skills he'll need for effective problem-solving. You can work with your teen one-on-one or get his friends involved, too, in engaging problem-solving activities for lessons he’ll use now and in the future.
Help your teen learn how to solve problems by giving her and her friends problems to solve. Present your teen group with a variety of scenarios that require them to use their brainstorming and critical thinking skills to find solutions to real and hypothetical problems. Start with smaller problems, such as what to do if you find a bracelet in the school hallway or catch a classmate cheating on an exam. Work toward more difficult problems that require a substantial amount of consideration, such as ways to stop peer pressure in school, eliminate bullying or cyber-bullying or reduce gender stereotyping and objectification. If your teen sails through these scenarios with plenty of useful problem-solving ideas, help her delve into even more complicated issues, such as creating a perfect law system or solving world hunger. You never know -- you might just help her become passionate about social issues.
You can help your teen work through problems and find creative solutions by helping him role play one-on-one or with friends. Talk to your teen about any problems he’s having with peers, teachers or siblings and test out some solutions through role playing. Have him play his own role in the situation and then have him act out the other person’s role to encourage him to see the problem from a different perspective. If your teen and his friends enjoy acting, turn your recreation room into a court room and help them learn about mediation as a means of resolving conflict and solving problems. Choose a judge, two lawyers and several witnesses to examine, and create a case for litigation, such as a fight between friends or a borrowed jacket that was returned stained. Once the court case has been resolved, rotate characters in the court room and try a new case.
Help your teen learn to solve problems through teamwork, communication, organization and creativity with an event-planning activity. Your teen can organize a birthday party or summer break celebration to ease into the activity, determining an appropriate-size guest list, organizing activities to keep the group occupied and working within a budget you have allotted. When you feel she’s ready to take on larger problems, you can also give her a much more difficult task that will challenge her problem-solving skills, such as planning a party for a much-younger sibling. Finally, help her organize an event for charity, such as a neighborhood-wide yard sale, bake sale or penny sale, or a charity soccer game or marathon. She can enlist the help of friends to make it a group-planning and problem-solving activity. Working together presents the teens with additional opportunities to solve problems that arise in leadership, teamwork and learning to deliberate and incorporate each member’s ideas.
Problem Solving Games
Make problem solving fun by incorporating skill-building games into your teen's next party or group event. Start by getting the group all knotted up; have the teens stand in a circle, put their hands in the center and grasp the hands of teens from around the circle. Now the group has to figure out how to get un-knotted without letting go of each other's hands. Next, blindfold each of your guests and whisper a number from one to the number of teens present. Without talking, the group must arrange themselves in a single, number-ordered line. Have the kids move slowly with their palms up to prevent injury. If you’re hosting an outdoor camp-out for your teen, turn tent-pitching into a problem-solving activity. Just blindfold the teens and have them use their communication skills to get the job done. For a large group, divide them into two teams and have each one assemble a tent; the first team finished wins the game.