Next time your child comes to you with a problem, use it as an opportunity to help teach them to become a better creative problem-solver. The problem could involve a school task, a social situation, or just an everyday issue that they are confronted with and can’t figure out how to solve. When no ready-made answer exists, a creative approach to problem-solving requires them to engage their imagination, as well as their intelligence. It involves having them take a more comprehensive view in figuring out a solution. This can be accomplished by using the “Six Thinking Hats” method, invented by Dr. Edward de Bono in the early 1980s.
We all know what it means to “put our thinking hat on”, but thinking about something creatively involves wearing more than just one hat. The “Six Thinking Hats” method involves looking at a problem from six differing perspectives. By doing this, you can produce more ideas than you might have, had you only looked at the situation from one or two points of view.
To help your child really understand the thought process, the first time (or couple of times) through I like to take the Six Hats method literally. Collect 6 hats from around the house, each having a different predominate color form the following list: red, white, yellow, black, green and blue. The type of hat is not important – they can be all different types. With every hat you place on their head, tell them in what way that colored hat is going to make them think of the problem they are trying to solve; as outlined below:
- Red Hat: Look at the situation emotionally – share feelings and fears. What do your feelings tell you?
- White Hat: Look at the situation objectively – gather your information. What are all the facts?
- Yellow Hat: Probe for the value and benefits of solutions under consideration. Which parts of the solutions will work?
- Black Hat: Devil’s advocate perspective. Which parts of the solutions, you are considering, won’t work?
- Green Hat: Think creatively. What are some new possibilities and better alternative ideas?
- Blue Hat: Think broadly pulling from all of your hats. What is the best overall solution?
The more you can encourage your child to use this multifaceted approach to creatively solve a problem, the better they will become at it. Eventually they will realize that they can wear more than one hat at once. It will be a skill that will long serve them well in life.