Life will always throw problems in our paths, approaching them with creativity and tenacity is key to solving them.
In the third blog of our Life Skills series, we discuss why we should develop our children’s problem-solving skills and explore the invaluable role this key life skill has to play.
Life will always throw challenges in our paths; a crawling baby may want to retrieve an out of reach toy, a teen may be faced with an impossible exam question, or a professional can find themselves faced with seemingly impossible decisions at work. Whilst these may appear vastly different problems to face, the key to overcoming each is approaching them with tenacity and creative thinking. In life, the more problems we face, the more we develop our ability to problem solve, and the more useful we are not only to ourselves but to others.
Young children are not afraid of problems. Many an interesting conversation is started by excitedly stating “Daddy, we have a problem!”, and all parents have their own anecdotes of how ingeniously such problems have been solved. Interestingly, when faced with a problem children usually focus on the result, the toy or treat, and not on the obstacle, for example the distance and steps between them and what they want. As we get older however, when we face a problem inhibition can set in – a fear of being unable to solve it or of being wrong. Often, this reaction stems from conditioning. First-hand experiences of being told we are wrong, or that we cannot do things, which prevents us using the creative thought processes that help us to problem-solve.
In theatre, our problem is generally how to communicate an emotion, an idea, or a character. As a singer – how to convey real emotion while singing. As a dancer, how to articulate our message through our bodies. Without realising it, in the studio or theatre we are constantly being challenged to solve problems in creative ways. In the drama studio we teach students to be excited by constraints or obstacles. It is, for example, far more interesting and often easier to improvise a piece of theatre with a clear brief (think "act out the seasons") and minimal props (such as a cane and a sports shoe), than it is to be given a brief to “create whatever you want”.
To keep nurturing problem-solving skills in our children does not mean setting them intentional roadblocks, but we should allow our children the joy of solving challenges. One simple way to do this is through nurturing play as much as possible. Embrace free play time and aim to avoid feeling a need to fill all time with structured activity. Whilst at play, children are at their most creative and able to solve problems. Problems become challenges that stimulate creativity and build confidence. Opening up play ideas away from the traditional methodology can spark creative thinking and problem-solving. Lego is great for developing motor skills and being able to follow instructions, however setting a challenge without instructions nurtures problem-solving skills.
Another simple change with significant impact that we can all make is to try to involve our children in decision making. It’s important that children are encouraged to make age-appropriate decisions on their own. Children often require guidance from trusted adults to make good choice, however there will come a time when they need to rely on themselves to make the right decision and any practice in the wings will empower them to do this.
Inspiring creativity, decision making and problem-solving may not be immediate things that come to the fore when you think of the skills children learn at theatre school. However at Simply Theatre we value the development of life skills in our students as a priority. We strive for our students to be good problem solvers, decision-makers, creative thinkers, communicators, whilst remaining self-aware, empathetic, and able to cope with their emotions and stress. All are skill sets that as adults, are far more likely to determine our potential academic prowess and in turn lead to long term happiness and fulfilment. Something we all want for our children.
To find out more about how your child could benefit from Simply Theatre or for more details on our unique performing arts and drama courses for 4 to 18-year-olds please complete our enquiry form click the button below to send us your details and we will be in touch.