Friday, September 23, 2011

Problem-Solve Out Loud and Alone — Even if It Feels Wacky

While writing an article about problem-solving for a magazine, I found some interesting research that applies to all of us.
• If you're already a problem-solver, try talking through the problem out loud instead of in your head.
The process puts you in a good position to hear yourself think. Apparently, a better outcome results as you monitor your own thinking. You are metacognating — thinking about your thinking. Those of you who are regular readers of intelligentwomenonly.com know that listening to your self-talk (neg., pos., or realistic such as problem solving) increases self-awareness and understanding of what actions to take.

• If our problem-solving skills are well-established, silently or out loud, parents and grandparents are in a good position to take advantage of the results of a 2009 study reported in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior,  “Development of Mastery During Adolescence: The Role of Family Problem-Solving.” The conceptual model proposes that effective family problem-solving interactions foster the development of a sense of mastery across and beyond the years of adolescence; mastery described as a sense of control and a major resource for weathering negative life events.

The findings of the study suggest that exposure to effective problem-solving between parents indicates to adolescents that difficulties and disagreements can be resolved in relationships, thus giving them greater confidence that they can control events in their own lives. Effective adolescent problem-solving interactions with parents increase mastery over time for older and younger siblings, who then continue to contribute to each other’s development of mastery. A reciprocal effect seems to take place as well: the more problem-solving, the greater sense of mastery, the more problem-solving.

Seems like an all-around winning situation for families — and perhaps also applicable to earlier stages of child development and other similar partnering or team situations. I have to acknowledge that I haven't tried the talking out loud problem-solving yet, primarily because I'm hardly ever alone except outside or in a public place. I'll start privately, even if I have to ask my spouse to leave me alone and not contribute his thoughts, before, during, or after — or lock myself in a bathroom.

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