Problem Solving

by Ramona Holland
October 30, 2019

Researchers have uncovered essential strategies for promoting intellectual growth and problem-solving skills in young children. The information is super easy to include in your day-to-day interactions with your child.

In a longitudinal study parents and children were observed while the children were trying to solve a difficult puzzle of a model car. Researchers noted three primary types of helping behavior from the parents:

  • Some parents solved the problem for their child, thus demonstrating how a solution could be reached.
  • Some parents gave hints about strategies to try to solve the puzzle.
  • Some parents gave hints plus engaged in pretend play while interacting with their children over the puzzle.

Results: Children whose parents gave problem-solving hints did better in completing the difficult car puzzle than the children who had the puzzle solved for them. The children whose parents gave hints and engaged in pretend play not only were the best problem solvers but also showed significantly greater growth in linguistic advancement scores over time when compared to the other children in the study.


To promote intelligence and problem-solving skills, refrain from solving children’s problems for them. Instead, give hints about strategies and go the extra step in engaging them in pretend play.