Solving a Problem – big or small

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Not all problems are created equal.

Decision time

    Before your young gifted child solves a problem, he or she must first decide if it is a big problem or a small problem. Children can take this learning into the school environment to know how to act, what to say, and how to keep self and others comfortable in social situations.

    Social problem solving is complex and causes us to consider the situation from different angles. As a parent you must remind yourself not to over-react to a situation because the way you model problem solving will influence the way your children solve problems.

The first consideration

    Is it a big problem of a small problem? A minor scrape should be a small problem. Your child can clean it and put a band-aid on it without asking for help. If there is a snake below the back steps at home, that could be a big problem. The child should ask an adult to make sure the snake is non-venomous before going outside.

    On the playground at school, the child tells your child that reading a book at recess is dumb because that is schoolwork. That is not a big problem. That is something your child can handle without help.

    Let’s look at some examples. An older boy might threaten your child with physical violence and take their lunch money every day on the school bus. That is a big problem. You would not expect your child to accept bullying and may need help. It is not your responsibility to go onto the bus and yell at the other child. It is your responsibility to alert the school counselor or principal to let them know your child needs assistance and safety on the bus.



    Problem solving in social situations is a learning experience that we use through a lifetime. We will make mistakes from time to time and not get the response or reaction we want.

    You can help by not over-reacting. Teach your child to distinguish between small problems and big problems. Don’t help if it is something your child can handle. We learn to do by doing.


Belling the Cat

Aesop’s Fables Readers’ Theater with Activity, adapted by K5 Gifted, 2020

Parent Instructions: Ask your children to choose reading parts. Complete the activity.

Characters: Young Mouse 1 – 3, Mouse 1 – 6, Old Mouse 1 – 2, Narrator


Mouse 1:

I called a meeting to decide on a plan to free ourselves of our enemy, the Cat.


Mouse 2:

At least we wished to find some way of knowing when she was coming, so we might have time to run away.


Mouse 3:

Indeed, something had to be done, for we lived in such constant fear of her claws that we hardly dared stir from our dens by night or day.


Mouse 4:

Many plans were discussed, but none of them was thought good enough. At last a very young Mouse got up and spoke.


Young Mouse 1:

I have a plan that seems very simple, but I know it will be successful.


Young Mouse 2:

All we have to do is to hang a bell about the Cat’s neck.


Young Mouse 3:

When we hear the bell ringing we will know immediately that our enemy is coming.


Mouse 5: 

We were much surprised that we had not thought of such a plan before.


Mouse 6:

But in the midst of the rejoicing over our good fortune, an old Mouse arose and spoke.


Old Mouse 1:

I will say that the plan of the young Mouse is very good.


Old Mouse 2:

But let me ask one question: Who will bell the Cat?



It is one thing to say that something should be done, but quite a different matter to do it.



    Turn and Talk: Should you make a suggestion even though you would not find it safe to do yourself? What are some ways they could bell the cat and still remain safe? Make sure that your suggestions do not harm the cat in any way.

    Make a plan. Draw a design you could create to bell the cat and keep yourself safe as well as not harming the cat. Put yourself in the place of the mouse. Remember that you are much smaller than the cat. Use that information in your planning. If you have siblings, could you work together to make a plan?

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