We have all had the experience of being stuck in our thinking, but it can really frustrate our children. One of our jobs as parents is to help create problem solving strategies for kids that will give them a way to move forward.
One day, one of my kids was staring at a simple circuit diagram. It showed a battery connected to a resistor and a light bulb. He was doing a homework problem. The particular question that had him stumped asked what would happen to the current in the circuit if the resistor was replaced with another that had more resistance. He hadn’t been in class that day and had never studied electricity, and so he stared at the diagram for a few minutes without comprehension.
My son had reached what psychologists call an impasse, which is really just a fancy way of saying that he was stuck. One of keys to good problem solving is to deal successfully with impasses. My son was not being successful. He sat sullenly at the table and his eyes started to glaze over. As luck would have it, I did know the answer to this question, because I had gotten a ham radio license as a kid and so I had to study some electrical theory. But, as a parent, I don’t like to give my kids the answers, so I put on my best Socrates impression and went to work with him.
I asked him to describe the problem to me, but all he was able to do was to read it back to me almost word-for-word. I asked him what else he knew about electricity. He described to me how the electrons in a circuit flow from the negative part of the battery through the circuit to the positive part. I asked him what resistors did, and he said that they made it harder for the electrons to move through the circuit.
So, then I asked him if he knew anything else that flowed.
Read the rest of this great story by Art Markman at http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2012/05/21/is-there-a-formula-for-smart-thinking/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=is-there-a-formula-for-smart-thinking
This is an Excerpt from Smart Thinking (Perigee Books ©2012 Arthur B. Markman, PhD) a professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin.
This is an excellent example how you can guide a child by asking questions and relating the information to something else they are familiar with. It seems that a lot of young people today do not know how to make those kinds of connections, to find the patterns or similarities between seemingly unrelated things.
Help your children to develop this skill, and they will be much better equipped to power through any impasse!
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Our staff writers come from various backgrounds in the neuroscience, personal development, brain science and psychology fields. Many started out as contributors!
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