From being able to accomplish goals to overcoming frustrating social interactions, problem solving skills are essential to move through the ups and downs of life. As with most things, consistent and regular practice is necessary to strengthen these skills so that they can be utilized with ease when the situation calls for it. At 3 years of age, children learn a lot from play. When it comes to problem solving, they practice patience, thinking outside the box, and trial and error. Below are a few effortless games and activities that you can do with your child to exercise their problem solving skills!
- Puzzles - Puzzles naturally lend themselves well to problem solving as they require lots of trial and error in order to complete. Be sure that the puzzles you are choosing for your child are at the right level for them. Something too easy will not hold their attention, while something too difficult may lead to frustration that could cause them to lose interest in puzzles in the future. At 3 years of age, some children can complete puzzles of up to 24 pieces.
- Play hide and seek with objects - The problem solving objective of hide and seek is simple enough: find the hidden object! This game pushes your child to explore their surroundings, think outside of the box, and engage in trial and error. Pick an object and take turns hiding it in a specified area, like the living room or backyard. Queue them to go towards the object by letting them know if they're "hot" or "cold".
- Spot the difference - Spot the difference pictures are wonderful for exercising your child's observation skills. You can easily find these activities on the internet for easy printing, just be sure to find something age-appropriate. At 3 years old, an activity that has around 5 differences will be perfect for your child.
- Block stacking - When it comes to creating towers and castles there are bound to be problems! From walls that can't get high enough to roofs that won't stay up, there are plenty of little conundrums to work through as they experiment with building. Through trial, error, and plenty of perseverance, your child will become an expert problem solver through the power of play!
- Imaginative play - Imaginative play is one of the best ways to practice social problem solving. When children play pretend, they create scenarios and think through imagined conflicts with their playmates or toys. This allows them to put themselves in someone else's shoes (sometimes literally!) and think through possible solutions.
- Scavenger hunt - Exercise your child's observation skills with a scavenger hunt! This activity challenges them to explore their environment, compare and contrast items, and to scrutinize their surroundings in order to "solve" the problem of finding all the items on their list.