Teaching Problem Solving Skills is Easy as Stop, Opt, Go

We’ve all seen it. The young child who can play a musical instrument, recite their address, spell their name but when they are on the playground and another child tries to play with their toy… meltdown, or a teen who is easily bothered by noise and reacts negatively to students on the bus.

Everyday we face problems and everyday we have to solve them. The test is to what degree do we constructively do that. Sometimes it can feel like we are in a never ending game of bumper cars just bumping up against one obstacle after another. As parents, you can’t shield your child or teen from all the problems that they may encounter, but you can empower them with problem solving skills so they can learn to solve problems on their own and cope with daily challenges. In its most basic form, problem solving is the ability to identify and solve problems. Stop, Opt and Go is a problem solving strategy I developed based on the Zones of Regulation.

Stop: Think Time. What am I feeling? What is the problem?

Opt: Brainstorm different solutions.

Go: Choose and try a solution.

The Stop, Opt, Go problem solving strategy is beneficial because it helps children and teens stop before acting by taking: think time, brainstorming different solution (examining the pros and cons of each) and then choosing and trying a solution.

Tips for providing children and teens with opportunities to make decisions (this allows them the chance to practice the skills):

  • Role model positive problem-solving skills.
  • When a problem occurs, avoid rushing in and solving the problem, unless it is a safety issue. If you see that they are struggling, coach them through the Stop, Opt and Go model.
  • Provide your child and teen with opportunities to make decisions.
  • Keep Stop * Opt* Go   easily accessible for when your child or teen needs a few reminders.

Erica Sewell is the Founder of Full Circle Counseling and Family Services, PLLC in Dallas, TX. Full Circle is located on the Dallas North Tollway at the Dallas/Plano border. Read more about Erica at www.fccafs.com. Erica can be reached at 214-592-7176 or erica@fccafs.com.

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