Problem Solving for Adults– How Do We Do It?

Have you ever had a situation as an adult where you are unsure what to do about a certain situation or problem? It could be about a relationship issue, or money worries. It could be about a career choice or a family situation.


When we are worried or stressed about an issue or problem it can affect what happens in the household, and may have an impact on the children.  When we are stressed we may not be as calm as we normally are with the children, or we may spend less time playing or engaging with them. Also, children seem to very quickly pick up that something isn’t quite right. Have you noticed that at times when you’ve been stressed, that the children seem to be a little more demanding of you – they move closer to you as they sense a change in how you are responding to them. So, the quicker we work through these issues, the better for us (as we have a plan) and the better for the children as they get ‘normal’ Mum back again – whatever ‘normal’ is!


As adults there are often times where we feel (or felt) perplexed as to what to do. How do you solve it? Do you have a system or a strategy to solve an issue?


We know as adults that we have choices and we may have some problem solving skills but what do we do?


Let’s go through a few options:

  • Talk with a trusted family member or friend who might have some ideas – this may be useful if they’ve been in a similar scenario and worked through it. It may also be valuable if they know you really well and can point out some strengths of yours to deal with it. At times it may actually confuse you when they seem to suggest something contrary to what you think.
  • Seek professional advice. Depending on the problem it may be a Financial Planner, or a Relationship Counsellor. It might be a lawyer or a career advisor. These people (if they are the ‘right’ one for you) can be invaluable with up to date advice, information or tools to help you to work through the issue.
  • Use a system such as PMI – this is a strategy devised by Edward De Bono – a pioneer in brain training. PMI stands for Plus Minus Interesting. It’s a tool which allows you to gain insight into an issue where you are stuck. Let’s say you are thinking of taking a new job but are unsure. Grab a piece of paper, divide it into 3 columns and label each column either P, M or I. Under the P column list all the pluses or positives of taking this new job, all the things that would be great about it. Next list all the Minuses or negatives of taking the new job, and thirdly in the ‘I’ column list all the thing that could be interesting about the new job. Sometimes doing a PMI can help you to gain more perspective on the issue.
  • Another De Bono strategy is called the Six Thinking Hats. Imagine you have six different coloured hats and as you wear each one you view your problem from a different angle. In his model the white hat represents the facts so jot down all the facts (with no judgement) on paper. Next look at it with yellow hat thinking – yellow means the positives. Write them down. Black represents the negatives, green is the new ideas arising from the situation, red is about your feelings eg how do I feel about taking the new job and finally white hat thinking is looking at ‘process’ – what steps are involved here. This model allows a wider view from many angles, and may give you clarity.


These are just a few of the ways that we as adults can work through issues which arise in our lives. And, as I stated – when we work through it, we ‘relax’ more because we have a plan, and this has a ripple effect onto our children.


Remember that that worrying won’t get you anywhere….

The only solution is action of some sort.

Happy Parenting!