Teaching Children To Think

“Why didn’t you think?” How often have those words passed your lips? Lots, I bet. Thinking, an #emotionalintelligence skill, does not come naturally.

Not if you are a kid; kids need to be taught to think.

Not only do kids have to be taught to think, their brains have to develop to the point where they can think realistically and deeply.

Here is a politically incorrect research finding: From thirty to seventy per cent of all people across all countries and all cultures cannot think deeply or what the gurus call abstractly.  Why is that politically incorrect? Because we want to think all people are created equal. Just not true. Some of us are prettier than others, some more atheletic, and some smarter than average.

When you routinely think  some  of the people around you are stupid, most likely you are just a bit more capable of deeper thought.  Those around you are not stupid, but are also not deep thinkers.

Parenting Thoughts

A great deal of emphasis is placed in the advice handed out to #parents about developing a child’s ability to think critically meaning deeply or abstractly. That is not bad news.  But what is bad is that too many parents, teachers, and gurus are going around without understanding how children think.

Parents and teachers must be attuned to  a child’s age and stage,  and what that means in terms of  the child’s ability to learn something. Not doing so  diminishes the  ability to learn or stay invested in learning. How?

Mark Katz, author of the book On Playing A Poor Hand Well, works with learning disabled children.  He makes the point that not being able to do what adults demand you do exposes a child to trauma, and trauma shuts the brain down. A shut down brain is closed to learning.

I’ll bet you my winning lottery ticket you’ve experienced that kind of trauma.  Go back into your memory book for a time you got frozen with fear. Happens to all of  us at one time or another.  Afraid of large barking dogs? I am willing to bet one came at you and scared you so you could not run.  Maybe you have a scar to prove it.  Afraid of public speaking. I am also willing to bet, you got asked to answer a question in public that shut down your brain and left you wanting to sink through the floor in embarrassment. Research shows that shut down is a survival tool and built into our instincts. That is why people faint, possums play dead, and people who pretend to be dead sometimes survive animal attacks.  Sad to say, however, like most of our instincts, this one can work overtime and become a liability.


What can you do?  Here are some quick tips to get your started.

Tip one: The first and most important thing is to take a crash course in the how age and stage relates to a child’s ability to think realistically. Here is mine. It begins as language begins to develop.

  1. Toddling through preschool: Fairy Tale Thinking.  The child believes toys are real, thoughts are real, the people on movie or tv screens are real, dreams are real. We encourage  such thinking when we promote Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Tinker Bell, Ghosts and Goblins.
  2. About six or a bit later: Personal Knowledge Thinking. The child stops believing in most fairy tale thinking and starts believing in what the gurus call the concrete. That means what the child has personally experienced plays the biggest role; however, what the voices of the grownups in the child’s world teach and preach also plays a part.
  3. From the early teens onward: Deep Thinking.  As the teens approach, more and more youth become able to think about personal knowledge and compare it to other people’s knowledge.  This is essentially what abstract thinking is about – comparing your thoughts with differing thoughts.  If your child suddenly hates all you do or does not want you to appear in public with you, that is a sign abstract thought is developing.  Like a new convert, such teens might over react and dismiss all former teachings. Hopefully, however,  in time your child’s  deep thinking will reach an even higher level and  not automatically dismiss other former ideas.

Tip two: Proper expectations. The reason you need to be attuned to the age and stage information is to expect the best of your child while not asking for the impossible.  Dealing with Fairy Tale Thinking is a good example of navigating this balancing act. You don’t want to take the fun out of Fairy Tale thinking, but you do want to lay the ground work for more realistic Personal Knowledge Thinking when the time comes.  The simple of act of saying “Tinker Bell is make-believe” or “Santa Claus is a happy myth” or “Dreams are your imagination at work” plows the ground for the time when your child suddenly realizes such things are not reality based.

If you see a child does not get your level of thought, acknowledging that children and grownups think at different levels also helps.

Finally, asking a child struggling with something how they explain it or what they think will help is always a good strategy.  One of my favorite stories about my childen is   when asked how to keep the Night Monsters away, one of my sons who was three at the time, asked for my perfume to be sprayed on his pillow cases. That smell made him think I was in the room, and that made him feel safe.


Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the universe.  Today’s parents have in harder in many ways than when we all lived in smaller towns and everyone accepted responsibility for raising children and helping parents.  The village is gone.  Proof, the outrage some feel if a teacher, child care worker, in-law, or other well-meaning person corrects their child.

What to do? First,  practice  lots of self soothing skills.

Second,  teacb your children others have the right to correct them in some situations.  Here are the situations that I think all adults have the right to correct a child.   Children need to respect others when  in churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, stores, the mall, movies, friends houses and even around family.  My hearing means loud play hurts my ears; that is something my grandchildren need to learn and then to be quieter around me.

Thank you for all you do, enjoy and be grateful for all you have been given, practice kindness, like, share or comment.



This post relates to this Word Press Daily Prompt:  Now? Later! We all procrastinate. Website, magazine, knitting project, TV show, something else — what’s your favorite procrastination destination?

I suggest in this post that a bit of procrastination about trying to teach Deep Thinking Skills serves children better than too much pressure to think at a level beyond them..

I am a professional procrastinator. Proof, one of my favorite EFTI poster coaches remains this one:  http://eftistore.com/downloads/procrastinate/


IMAGE BY: www.cafepress.com

One response to “Teaching Children To Think

  1. I enjoyed this post very much! It’s interesting to watch my child develop her thinking skills. Sometimes she can think critically but she has only recently understood that the people in films are actors and actresses (she’s eight).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.