Many parents are worried that their children do not use their ‘brain’ in doing something and taking small decisions. They always listen to their friends, want products which are advertised on TV and go along with what others suggest. On the other side I know many children who always ask questions, think and talk about something from all the possible angles and are independent thinker. Why is that difference?
In our day to day lives we are continuously being challenged by different problems to resolve and anything we do to solve them, is a part of our thinking skills. It is our ability to evaluate information, to be open-minded, consider alternative ways of looking at solution and make judgments which help us to deal with physical challenges, personal and social relationship issues, educational and career related challenges or understanding how things work.
Every person is a born thinker but to be a good thinker the most important thing required is opportunity to think and practice. Here are some situations where parents themselves put a stop to the development of thinking process in children:
- Many parents give ready-made solutions to the situations their children face with. When children do not question and work accordingly they termed it ‘obedience’. Such children believe they do not need to think because their parents do it for them. They always look up to parents or other people for their decisions and considerations.
- On the other way when parents criticize and make fun of new ideas or different opinions of their children or other people, children stop speaking about different opinions in fear of scolding or rejection. So they are afraid of thinking something and taking decisions just because of ‘what parents will say ’. Further, either they stop using their own mind for more information, facts and options or having lots of valuable things in their mind they become frustrated.
- Children are best observer. When they see their parents believing and passing on information from one person to another without considering facts or without giving a single thought on what they are saying; children learn the same thing. Similarly in day to day interaction with people when parents jump to conclusion about an event or a person without interpreting situations and related facts, children also do the same. Such children are involved in gossips and always believe whatever others say. They are least interested in knowing actual things or facts.
With your best support and by giving great opportunities to practice thinking skills you can grow them into great thinkers. Here are some simple things you can do :
- Do not solve your children’s problems immediately: Ask them to think about all possible things they can do to solve it then choose the best way. Encourage them to think and work in new and different way. Monitor their actions and decisions for guiding them what is right and wrong. They will learn to deal with problems and gain confidence in their thinking and decision making when they do it on their own.
- Give confidence to ask questions : Many a times we discouraged our children when they ask questions related to fundamental truths, religious, social or political beliefs or may a times when we feel ‘I am elder, you have to obey’. DON’T. Tell them to see the other side of coin in all situations. Use words such as describe, explain, estimate, predict, identify, and differentiate, etc., to encourage them to interpret, understand, and use specific details to make conclusion. Ask them “Where do you think we might get more information about this problem?” This way they will recognize the reasons behind right and wrong, come to know the facts and develop their own attitudes and beliefs with confidence.
- Help children develop hypothesis: Talk about different events and ask them “what do you think is happening here?” “How would you solve this problem?” “If we do this, what do you think will happen?” “Let’s predict what we think will happen next.” Support them to do research and collect facts by different means. This will help them in creating, analyzing, deciding and evaluating different situations and related options.
- Make them empathetic in thinking: Teach them that people are not just good or bad; there are many situational factors which make a person behaves in specific way. Ask them to put themselves in others’ shoes and analyze and consider all the factors of a behavior and situation. You can give your child opportunity to practice this skill by taking stories from books or television. Discuss how do characters feel, think, believe and behave.
- Provide opportunities to play : Whether it is outdoor, indoor or role play, it gives children opportunity to develop their imagination, communication, creativity, negotiation, active and empathetic listening of other people and contributes to physical, emotional and cognitive strength and well being of children. Encourage your children to engage in active play instead of playing video games or mobile games. You can also give unstructured time to be creative, to reflect and to decompress.