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Kids Can Choose Series
by Elizabeth Crary, M.S.
Elizabeth Crary

the Book
the Author
the Illustrator
Parenting Press

Feature stories:
Parent educator takes a "how-to" approach to teaching problem-solving skills
Children's expressions inspire illustrator Susan Avishai

Teaching children problem-solving strategies

Media questions

Reviewer and reader comments

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Problem-Solving Strategies

When kids get frustrated, they're likely to get angry or discouraged. But a frustrated child doesn't have to be an angry one: experts agree that children are apt to respond more calmly and rationally if they know how to brainstorm many different possible solutions to problems. If you don't want kids to kick, cry or quit whenever they're frustrated, here's how to teach them to think of better options.

What's most important? That you introduce the concept of problem-solving before there's a problem. When your kids are relaxed, when no one's teasing them or stealing lunches, use a book like Amy's Irresistible Hat to discuss and even act out difficult situations. You can be the bully—or one of your kids can. Or maybe you and another adult can pretend to be the kids in the story.

Once you've demonstrated the problem to children, help them brainstorm possible actions. Each of the "Kids Can Choose" books concludes with a list of suggestions; you'll want to add your ideas and your children's ideas to it. Then, ask your kids to pick five strategies (one for each finger) and act them out with an imaginary problem.

Now, move on to a real problem one of your children has experienced in the past. Use the same concept of five possible solutions and walk through how you might have handled that old problem.

Finally, ask your kids to identify a current problem—something that's bothering one of them or one of their friends. Think of different ways to handle this problem and then act out several different scenarios.

Kids need lots of practice in problem-solving. When a real-life problem comes up, they'll also need you to remind them of the concept of options. Perhaps most important, children need to understand that they may have to try several strategies before they find one that works.

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About the Books:
Title: Kids Can Choose Series
     Amy's Disappearing Pickle
     Heidi's Irresistible Hat
     Willy's Noisy Sister
Author: Elizabeth Crary, M.S.
Publisher: Parenting Press, Inc., Seattle, WA
Publication date: Winter 2001
     Amy: 1-884734-59-6
     Heidi: 1-884734-55-3
     Willy: 1-884734-57-X
Price: $7.95 each