Social Emotional 

Step 1 Problem and The Tunnel


Solving the Problem

Going through the tunnel.

From Step 1 we learned that there are a variety of problems.  Problems can feel uncomfortable.  Choosing not to solve a problem directly can result in new problems.


Three factors for going through the tunnel. 

  • the size of the tunnel 

  • how many PurpleBunnies you have 

  • getting through the tunnel results in PurpleBunnies.


The size of the tunnel is related to an idea from social thinking called the “Size of the Problem.” Some problems are big some problems are small. A problem that is large to one person might be small to another person.


It depends on how many PurpleBunnies each person has built up to solve the problem. Or how much resilience the problem solver has. Or how many people are working to tackle the problem. One final factor to the size of the problem is skills.  A problem-solver may have to solve many smaller problems in order to build the skills needed to solve a new problem.  Each skill built or smaller problem solved will result in resilience, PurpleBunnies, and skills.

One needs resilience, PurpleBunnies, and skills to solve larger problems. Some problems have multiple layers of course which can make some problems seem very big.


We mentioned that the size of the problem that we can solve depends on how many PurpleBunnies you have. That is because it costs PurpleBunnies in order to go through a tunnel. If you do not have very many PurpleBunnies. Then the problem that you can handle needs to be shorter or smaller. Unless you have people to help you which is always a good thing.

We want to get through the tunnel because when we solve the problem our brain gives us a reward. We call that reward, PurpleBunnies. The bigger the problem, the more PurpleBunnies you have to spend, the more PurpleBunnies you earn in the end. 

Solve Problems

In the tunnel

  • Problems trigger a certain amount of stress.  

    • Small amounts of stress can be motivating and can enlist your brain and body's resources to go about solving the problem or task. (desirable difficulty)

  • Solving 'just right sized problems allows your brain to enter the state of "Flow"

  • Getting 'stuck' in the tunnel is undesirable

    • When the problem is perceived as unmanageable, too big or some people get 'stuck' in the problem which increases stress. This can cause people to exhibit a variety of responses.

  • Some people view problems as evidence of failure or fallibility.  

  • It is essential to encourage people and support them through problems, so they have the resilience to get through them on their own.  Do not ever solve other's problems for them.


Integrity and Honesty

  • Sometimes when a problem appears too big, people attempt unhealthy strategies to solve the problem

    • Dishonesty

    • Avoidance
      • mess around or talk to a neighbor
      • hiding
      • intoxication
      • social media
      • getting lost in a book
    • Blame
  • These approaches only serve to cause other problems.
  • These additional problems compound the problem and stress.

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