Child Development:Problem Solving

Problem-solving (or cognition) refers to how a child perceives, thinks, and learns about his or her world. It encompasses things like memory, problem-solving, and decision-making.  Providing new sights, sounds, and opportunities for your child to explore their environment is vital to their cognition.


The following are the standard benchmarks of development for children’s problem-solving. Every child is different, and some may do things earlier or a bit later than their peers.  If you notice extended delays in comprehension you should talk to your child’s pediatrician.

4 – 9 Months

At this young age, children begin to explore objects by touch, taste and shaking. They will turn towards loud noise and light and will begin to follow objects as they pass.

9 -12 Months

When children are almost 1 year old, they will likely start to imitate actions. When handed a phone they’ll put it up to their ear, and they might pretend to drink out of an empty cup. They will also be able to find small items or toys you hide in the front of them, remembering where you put them.

12 -18 Months

This stage can be loud, as your child has learned how to push buttons on toys, bangs pots and pans and delights in peek-a-boo. At this age, your child can identify objects and people in picture books or photos. 

18 – 24 Months

When you ask a child at this age to point to their eye or ear, they should be able to do so. Toddlers can also play with friends with a low-level of collaboration (parallel play).

2 – 3 Years

At this age children can identify objects in a picture book when asked. They can also group things together by category, such as collecting all red toys into a pile. They can put together small puzzles and can follow simple directions.

3 – 4 Years

This is known as the “age of why” because it’s when children start asking questions about the world around them. They understand concepts like over, under, yesterday and after. They also play pretend frequently, using their imagination more and more.

5 – 6 Years

This is usually the age when children start kindergarten. They’ll understand letters and numbers and will start reading basic words and sentences. They can group pictures in order of sequence, essentially telling a story. They’ll also be able to play games with friends, collaborating and using problem-solving to keep the peace.

Activities That Encourage Problem Solving

There are many enrichment activities that encourage problem-solving. Puzzles, hide and seek, and helping you with household tasks can all help improve your child’s problem solving and learning skills. Explaining things as you do them is also helpful.  For example, while watering your garden, explain that the plants need water to grow, then let your child help.

Instilling Resilience

If your child is able to solve problems on their own, they will be happier, more resilient and independent. Weak problem-solving skills may lead your child to feel easily frustrated by their inefficiency, and avoid challenging situations in the future. Children should be exposed to problems to help build character and perseverance.
To find out how to encourage and develop problem-solving skills in your children, Contact Us.