At Focus on Kids, our holistic picture of health includes mental health, and part of raising emotionally healthy kids is giving attention to critical thinking. The formation of logic and reason is a vital part of childhood development. Critical thinking skills will serve your child well in every area of life — from their education to their future relationships.
So how can you help your child build a solid foundation of these important skills in age-appropriate ways? We’ll cover how you can lay the groundwork below.
- Encourage curiosity
- Experiment with hands-on games and materials
- Invest in open-ended and creative toys
- Foster imagination with pretend play
- Help kids put language to their feelings and emotions
- Allow and invite questions
- Ask open-ended questions
- Encourage your kids to make predictions
- Allow for unstructured time and free play
- Encourage exploration
- Point out patterns and help kids make connections
- Help kids learn how to manage their feelings
- Encourage trial and error
- Encourage problem-solving
- Accept mistakes
- Allow your kids to fail (within reason)
- Ask questions that get them thinking
- Do a post-assessment of their decisions
- Allow kids to draw their own conclusions — and gently correct when necessary
- Allow kids to form their own opinions
- Provide avenues for kids to decompress from intense feelings
- Encourage/facilitate reading
- Don’t overschedule — allow for downtime
Preteen and Beyond
- Encourage independence
- Limit screen time
- Don’t be quick to fix your kids’ mistakes
- Ask for their opinion (and how they formed it)
- Model critical thinking skills in your own life
- Provide resources and tools (library card, internet, encyclopedia set, etc.)
- Help kids create their own schedules and choose their own activities
At any age, it is important to understand that your role is to help your children learn how to think and act for themselves. This means stepping in as little as necessary and allowing kids to make decisions, learn from their mistakes, and form their own conclusions. So much of what we know about the world is learned from trial and error, and you’ll want to make room for your kids to experiment and fail. If you always swoop in to save the day or over-explain, your child will never learn that they need to find a better way to, for example, remember to do their homework or do a bit of research to learn about something they are curious about. Encouraging curiosity, creativity, questions, and problem-solving helps as well.
Building a solid foundation of logic and reasoning skills in your child’s early years will go a long way toward cultivating their emotional and behavioral health throughout their entire lives. The earlier you can get started, the better!
Got questions? Our staff of board-certified pediatricians is here to help you with social and behavioral issues as well. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.