Occupational Therapy -> Executive Function -> Problem Solving

Problem Solving

Problem solving is an important skill defined as identifying a problem, thinking of strategies to solve the problem and carrying out the strategies. Problem solving is used in daily life and can be addressed by an occupational therapist if there is a deficit or challenge in using this skill, impacting function. Examples of daily activities requiring problem solving include: a student breaking his or her pencil while writing, missing the bus to go to work, missing ingredients for a recipe, etc. Occupational therapists often address the emotional regulation required for dealing with a problem in order to come up with an appropriate solution.

Visual Schedule Cards

Goal Bank

  • Given supervision, Ramiro will follow 5 steps 5 of 10 steps in a recipe to make a simple recipe to demonstrate executive function skills such as planning, problem-solving, and task initiation over 3 therapy sessions. 1
  • Milo will engage in a tabletop task for 10 minutes to successfully participate in classroom dynamic, with visual and 50% verbal redirection to task, in 4/5 trials. 0


  • Homemade Sugar Scrub preview

    Homemade Sugar Scrub 4

    Kimberly Luster, COTA

    Sensory Integration Resource. Recipe Resource. Occupational Therapy Resource. Physical Therapy Resource. Homemade sugar scrub can be made to use in the home, in the clinic, and during teletherapy w...

  • Think Fast preview

    Think Fast 1

    Glenna Nave

    Directions: Before playing, decide on a time limit i.e. 10, 20, 30 seconds. Turn over a category card and player 1 has the designated amount of time to list something that fits within the category....

  • Kiki's Bunny Match preview

    Kiki's Bunny Match 3

    Bethany Ayer

    Memory games can promote the development of: • Visual - figure ground skills • Visual -perceptual skills • Executive functioning • Visual discrimination

  • Chick-Fil-A Menu preview

    Chick-Fil-A Menu 3

    Glenna Nave

    Pictures of Chick-fil-A menu with item name and pricing information.

  • Holiday Breakfast Menu preview

    Holiday Breakfast Menu 4

    Glenna Nave

    Restaurant Ordering Food Resources. Daily Living. Occupational therapy. Handwriting Resource. The holiday breakfast menu features an assortment of breakfast foods and prices to create your own brea...

    Includes activity list
  • Kiki's Emotion Bingo! preview

    Kiki's Emotion Bingo! 3

    Bethany Ayer

    Emotional Regulation Resource. Occupational Therapy Resource. Language Resource. Kiki's Emotion Bingo can be used as an attention game, identifying emotions, problem solving task, as well as to tar...

  • Thanksgiving Menu preview

    Thanksgiving Menu 1

    Glenna Nave

    Handwriting Resource. Fine Motor Resources. Writing Worksheet. Occupational Therapy Resource. Use this Thanksgiving menu activity to practice handwriting skills.

    Includes activity list
  • Back to School Word Hunt preview

    Back to School Word Hunt 4

    Bethany Ayer

    A quick 1 page printout to get back in the 'back to school' mindset. Have your client write as many items as they can think of for each category.

    Includes activity list
  • Kiki's Holiday Breakfast Story preview

    Kiki's Holiday Breakfast Story 5

    Bailey Morgan, MA, CCC-SLP

    A story about Kiki who is planning to make breakfast for the holidays. The story focuses on planning, making lists, requesting, problem solving, following a recipe, and more.

    Includes activity list

Reference links

  • Psychoeducation For Caregivers of People With Chronic Conditions: Systematic Review of Related Literature From 1995–2018 2 Author: Rouch, Fields, Rodakowski, & Leland - Effectiveness of interventions for caregivers of adults with chronic conditions. Adequate caregiver training to promote maintenance of the caregiver's role. Interventions focused on individualized education, counseling, problem-solving training, and coping skill development contributed to improvements in caregiver knowledge. Citation: Rouch, S. A., Fields, B. E., Rodakowski, J., & Leland, N. E. (2020). Psychoeducation for caregivers of people with chronic conditions: Systematic review of related literature from 1995–2018 [Critically Appraised Topic]. American Occupational Therapy Association.
  • Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines For Children and Youth Ages 5–21 Years 2 Author: Cahill and Beisbier - Collaborate with families and caregivers and provide services in the natural context of the desired occupation. The evidence also supports group service models and models that include peer mediation; these models can promote participation across areas of occupation. Skills-based training and therapeutic practice in the context of valued occupations are recommended over isolated sensorimotor approaches. Technology, manualized programs, and sports activities can be effective but should be evaluated and matched to age, diagnosis, and outcomes as guided by the evidence. Activity- and Occupation-Based Interventions to Support Activities of Daily Living, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, Play and Leisure, and Rest and Sleep -Parent, school, and community involvement should be supported throughout the course of intervention, and pediatric services should be provided in the natural context of the child’s or youth’s routine and environments. -Engagement in daily occupations should remain the central focus of goals and intervention. Practitioners should use manualized programs that have clear activity- and occupation-based strategies as opposed to those that are solely focused on performance skills or client factors. -Practitioners should collaborate with clients and caregivers to establish meaningful occupation-based and achievable goals and use intentional strategies to maintain a collaborative relationship throughout the therapy process. -Consistent caregiver training and instruction should be provided to promote carryover, and the power of the caregiver to effect change and support the child should be emphasized. -Practitioners should follow up with children, parents, and teachers and provide ongoing coaching and feedback on performance. They should provide opportunities for collaborative problem solving and model strategies for ongoing problem solving in the home and community as new challenges arise. -Skills-based interventions should incorporate peer, family member, and practitioner interaction. -Small-group service delivery methods provide an opportunity for increased motivation and modeling. -Practitioners should explore interactive technology interventions, especially with clients with ASD and ADHD. The use of technology can be coupled with skills training and other evidence-based interventions. -The evaluation and occupational profile should include consideration of the quality of rest and sleep. -Rest and sleep should be addressed to enhance health and well-being and increase performance and participation in meaningful occupations. Activity- and Occupation-Based Interventions to Improve Mental Health, Positive Behavior, and Social Participation -Activity- and occupation-based interventions should be implemented to address the mental health, positive behavior, and social participation of children and youth with or at risk for mental health concerns. -Practitioners should use group service delivery models when providing intervention to children and youth with or at risk for mental health concerns. -Sports activities should be used to develop social interaction skills. -Practitioners should incorporate meditation practices and blogging when attempting to foster positive feelings about self in children and youth. -Manualized yoga programs or less structured yoga games and poses should be used when addressing the mental health, positive behavior, and social participation of children and youth with or at risk for mental health concerns. Activity- and Occupation-Based Interventions to Improve Learning, Academic Achievement, and Successful Participation in School -Practitioners should incorporate peer support, such as peer tutoring and peer-mediated interventions, into occupational therapy interventions and provide services in typical school environments to promote social participation and academic performance. -Practitioners should emphasize the use of activity- and occupation-based approaches to improve learning, academic achievement, and successful participation in school. -Therapeutic practice should be favored over sensorimotor approaches for the development and remediation of handwriting and literacy skills and performance. -Weighted vests should be used with caution. Citation: Susan M. Cahill, Stephanie Beisbier; Occupational Therapy Practice Guidelines for Children and Youth Ages 5–21 Years. Am J Occup Ther July/August 2020, Vol. 74(4), 7404397010p1–7404397010p48. doi: https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.744001