Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Thinking Aloud to Teach Problem-Solving Skills

04/16/2017 | Published by: Kelly Mastin

Parents and caregivers can help children, teens, and adults learn problem-solving skills. It won’t happen overnight and will be a process. But it’s not a complicated process and it’s something you have to purposefully do. 

Talk aloud about the steps you go through all day long. 

Even if it seems like your child isn’t listening, they will get used to hearing the processes. While this conversation may seem cumbersome and unnecessary—even embarrassing sometimes—it is a good way for our children to learn to solve problems.

Here are some examples:

  1. While shopping, you need to go to the restroom. Instead of just making your way to the restroom, talk about it. “I need to use the restroom. I don’t think I can wait until I get home. I wonder where it is. I think I’ll ask someone who works here to help me find the restroom.” Talk about how you can tell whether different people are employees or not: nametag, uniform, etc. Then approach the person and ask for the restroom. Talk out loud while following the person’s directions and while choosing where to leave your shopping cart, etc. 
  2. In the morning, you need to choose what to wear. Instead of simply choosing something and putting it on, talk out loud about the process that you naturally and silently go through each day. Go to the back porch or check the weather app to see what the weather will be like. Talk out loud about it. Use words like “cold” or “hot”, etc. Then talk about whether long or short sleeves are more appropriate. Talk about your pants and shoes and socks the same way. Going step by step through this process every day will help your child learn to do the same thing.
  3. In the evening, talk about the choices that you make. “Hmmmmmm. It’s 10 o’clock already. I would love to watch another episode of this show, but I have an early doctor’s appointment tomorrow. I need to get up at 6:00 be ready in time. I’d better choose to turn off the TV now and go to bed. Otherwise, I might not be able to get up when I need to. I guess I can watch more of this tomorrow.” 

Through these examples, a parent can learn about what it means to think aloud. 

At first, it may feel strange to think aloud, but soon you will become comfortable with the process. 

After weeks of practicing this method, a parent can transition to adding questions about the process. For example, a parent can ask, “What’s a good way to check what the weather is going to be like today?” Or a parent can ask, “Should I wear long sleeves or short sleeves since it’s going to be 89 degrees today?”

Following this simple method, our children can grow in their problem solving skills.

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