A Possibility for Something Good: A Review of ‘What Do You Do With a Problem?’

“It is not that they cannot see the solution.  It is they cannot see the problem.”  – G. K. Chesterton

Reading Level   

P – Grade 3

Review and Comments

What to do with a problem?  Now that is a dilemma we have all encountered.  The little boy in this story faces a problem he absolutely does not want.  His problem is not specifically defined, but it is extremely unsettling to him.  As the story unfolds his questions and emotional responses together with the expressive illustrations show how small he feels while confronting his ever-expanding problem.

When the boy first becomes aware of the problem, he immediately wants nothing to do with it.  He does everything he can to make it go away.  He even tries to ignore it but that does not help at all.  It first appears as a small cloud above his head and then begins to expand until “it looked as if it would swallow him up.”  And at the peak of his distress, the cloud is swirling around him.

After awhile, the boy realizes the more he stresses about the problem the bigger it gets until it actually seems to consume all aspects of his life.  He finally finds the courage to confront the problem.  He makes a plan and then literally jumps into the cloud.  What amazes him is the realization that his problem is not as intimidating as he thought.  He has a new perspective about himself and his world.  He realizes he is brave and facing a problem is an experience that can develop wisdom.  In the future, he plans to take his time and examine a problem more carefully because “every problem has an opportunity for something good.  You just have to look for it.”

The illustrations in this book certainly express the emotional upheaval the unsolved problem causes.  The colors are subdued and express a feeling of distress, and the action is quite dramatic.  The story was written for young children, but it could be used for older children as a writing prompt about problem solving and separating emotion from fact or as an example of art expressing feelings.

Possible Concerns

There are no concerns with this book.

Further Discussion

  • These articles provide information about teaching children to problem solve.
  1. “Five-Step Problem Solving for Young Children”

http://heartmindonline.org/resources/5-step-problem-solving-for-young-children

  1. “8 Steps to Help Your Child Learn Problem Solving Skills”

http://therapychanges.com/blog/2016/03/8-steps-child-learn-problem-solving-skills/

  1. “Five Steps to Problem Solving with Children”

http://marenschmidt.com/2005/07/five-steps-to-problem-solving-with-children/

 

  • Two important steps that should be included in a problem solving plan:
  1. Seek guidance from a trusted adult.
  2. Pray to the Holy Spirit.

 

Art

  • The boy in the story thinks his problem looks like a cloud. Draw a picture of what you think a problem looks like.

 

Writing

  1. Write a story about a problem you have faced.  How did you solve the problem?  What did you learn from the problem?
  2. Interview a parent or grandparent about a problem he or she has had. How was the problem solved?  What lesson was learned?

 

Catholic Resources

Prayers to the Holy Spirit:

  • Come, O Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful,
    And enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
    Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created.
    R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

 

  • Breathe into me, Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.  – Saint Augustine

 

Reflections:

  • Psalm 4:2 “Answer me when I call, my saving God. When troubles hem me in, set me free; take pity on me, hear my prayer.”
  • Psalm 56:3“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
  • Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

 

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