To live a successful life as an adult, a child needs to become a successful problem solver. Children need to acquire the skills to help them deal with adult life's unexpected challenges: how to cope with an unwanted pregnancy, a retrenchment when you have a family to feed and a mortgage to pay, the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness, or the numerous other problems we inevitably encounter. Whether we're dealing with such major issues or life's day-to-day hassles, effective problem-solving skills are one of the essential requirements to living a more contented childhood and adulthood. People who are effective problem solvers report greater feelings of happiness and well-being, while poor problem solvers have fewer choices, feel less in control, and are more likely to become anxious and depressed. Teaching appropriate problem-solving skills prevents many mood disorders and maladaptive behaviors, and enhances the quality of life.
These are the reasons the stories of this chapter focus on problem solving. They explore how to cope with adversity and build the cognitive processes that provide resilience. They talk about thinking through issues rather than relying upon unrealistic, magical solutions. They teach about acceptance, negotiating outcomes, working collaboratively toward a resolution, and other useful means to turn a problem into a solution.
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