Each day brings a new set of challenges and problems.
Dealing with being unfairly told off by a teacher
Trying to stay in your seat at school
Coping with teasing by an annoying senior
Negotiating with your parents for going out
When we encounter a problem we have to think about the different ways in which we could deal with it and make a decision about what we will do or say. Sometimes we make the right choice, while at other times we seem to get it wrong. Some people might find it harder than others to make the right choices. When this happens it is useful to think about how you are dealing with your problems and whether you could try to solve them in different ways.
Why do problems happen?
There are various reasons why we are unable to solve our problems successfully. Three of these are particularly common.
Acting without thinking: Decisions and choices are sometimes made too quickly. You may rush into something without really thinking what will happen.
Feelings take over: Strong feelings like anger or anxiety sometimes take over and prevent us from thinking problems through and making the right choices about what we do or say.
Can’t see any other solution: The third main reason why we can’t solve problems is that we just can’t think of another way of doing things. We become very fixed in our ideas and can’t see any other solutions.
Learn to stop and think
A helpful approach to not rush into the first thing that comes to our mind is to: STOP, PLAN and GO traffic-light system.
Red: Before you do anything, think of the red traffic light and STOP.
Amber: PLAN and think about what you want to say or do.
Green: GO with the plan.
The first step is often the hardest, and sometimes you may find it hard to STOP yourself from rushing in.
Practice imagining a picture of some traffic lights and as you see the red light think to yourself STOP.
Taking a few breaths after that will calm you down and let to plan ahead about what you want to do. The more you practice, the easier it will become.
Identify different solutions
Try using the ‘OR’ method to find as many possible solutions as you can. Another way of doing this is to take a sheet of paper and write down all of the possible solutions you can think of in two minutes. The idea is to get as many ideas as you can, so don’t worry if some of them seem unrealistic or silly.
Think through the consequences
Once you have made a list of possible solutions, the next step is to work out which is the best one. Think about the positive and negative consequences of each idea and then choose that you think, on balance, will work best. This involves five steps:
1. What is my problem?
2. How could I deal with this problem?
3. What are the positive consequences of each solution?
4. What are the negative consequences of each solution?
5. On balance, what is the best solution?
Practice getting it right
Learning to deal with problems in new or different ways is not always easy. It can take time, and you may need to practice before you get it right.
Imagine yourself changing the ending
Think about your problem and imagine yourself solving it differently. Instead of using old solutions, change the ending and imagine yourself being successful. Choose a quiet time and get a really good picture of your problem situation in your mind.
Describe the scene as well as you can.
Imagine who all will be there.
Think about what is going on what is being said.
Imagine yourself using your new solution and being successful.
Remember to praise yourself for solving your problems well.
Plan to be successful
Problem-solving is often used to stop things happening.
Mahi wanted to stop being teased.
Prashant wanted his teacher to stop telling him off.
Rahul wanted to stop fighting.
Another way to solve problems is to think about the thing you want to happen and then plan how you can be successful.
Image credits – Pinterest