Too often we give children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. Roger Lewin.

You’ve seen Stan pull this stunt a hundred times: whenever another kid doesn’t want to play by his rules, Stanley tells him to get lost. It takes approximately 10 minutes, and Stan is left with no one to play with. You ask yourself, “Why does he keep doing it? Can’t he see that his bossiness is getting him nowhere?”

One of the reasons problem children, particularly those who are hyperactive, get locked into resolving conflicts the same old way, even though they know their strategies don’t work, is they do not know any other way. When posed with problem situations hyperactive children usually come up with fewer solutions than other children, and fail to think of the possible consequences of their actions.

Problem-solving strategies are meant to help children get along better with people by, first of all, identifying their problems; secondly, generating solutions; thirdly, selecting and trying out one solution; and lastly, evaluating whether their solution worked, and if it didn’t, trying out another one. Through these steps children learn how to ask questions, consider other people’s feelings, deal with not being right, and handle conflict. As well it is a terrific way of making children think for themselves. For some children this is a relatively new experience. This technique was formalized by George Spivack and Myrna Shure, in their book Social Adjustment of Young Children: A Cognitive Approach to Solving Real-Life Problems, 1974.