When did you stop believing in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy or the like? When that happened , you were thinking critically and more realistically.
Being able to think realistically improves the odds you will have a safer, and more content journey through life. All parents want that for their kids.
George V. Coelho, developmental theorist lists three things as necessary for successfully coping with life’s ups and downs:
- Coding reality – see what is, not what you want to see.
- Comforting yourself when reality is not to your liking.
- Feeling you have choice.
Those three attributes are also part of what is called Emotional Intelligence (EI) EI is defined as a set of abilities related to the understanding, use and management of emotion as it relates to one’s self and others.
Parents play an important role in fostering a child’s EI including the ability to code reality.
Reality check: Young children do have poetic moments, but thinking that makes great thinkers could get them killed. Why we make our small children hold our hands crossing the street or in parking lots and discourage playing with matches.
All humans start their lives caught in tunnel vision. As we age hopefully we see wider vistas. However, Thomas Phenlon, a parenting guru I admire, notes that one of the biggest ways parents harm children is by treating them like miniature adults. That means thinking children are critical thinkers. Not true, critical thinking, what some call intelligent thinking develops as children age.
Here is some good news for all. Intelligence is limited by our genes. Not a politically correct notion, but wishing won’t change that we are not all equally endowed with intelligence. Part of intelligence is Emotional Intelligence meaning thinking about what your feelings are suggesting and knowing when to act on those suggestions and when not to.
The good news? Emotional Intelligence is learned, not gifted and can always be improved.
More good news: Studies show that Emotional Intelligence is more important in living the good life than intelligence in general and is more important than money, education or social class in getting ahead.
Tip one: . You need to keep age and stage in mind.
- Pre-school aged children cannot think beyond the feeling of the moment.
- School aged child cannot think beyond what can be seen, heard, or touched.
- Starting with the preteens children become more and more able to think about abstract things like possibilities and varying points of view. This shift in thought explains why teens are often so critical of parents
- As the child moves into adulthood, life experiences improve judgement, something teens often lack.
Warning: The guidelines are general and some never become critical thinkers; others do it earlier than the above parameters.
Tip two: Do not worry about a pre-schooler’s fantasies; at the same time, point out the make-believe stuff. Label play and make-believe as pretending or imaging. Do so in a calm matter of fact way.
Tip three: Keep the fun in fantasy. Saying “It is fun to believe in make-believe” when hanging up the Christmas stockings will not in any way diminish the child’s pleasure, but does pave the way for when s/he begins to understand what is real and what is not.
Tip four: Allow as much choice as possible, but label choices “You have two choices” works well when you can let the child pick one or the other. Then label the child’s choices; “A wise choice.” or ”Not the best choice.” Also hold to safety and other major rules as “Not a choice.”
Tip five: Once the child stops believing in the Santa Claus or similar myths, start asking as you watch movies or media together “What’s real about that?” or “What’s fantasy about that?” Also be quicker to point out twisted thinking. The following are fairly easy to spot when you hone your critical thinking skills.
Tip six: As the preteen or teens are entered upon continue the discussions suggested above, but go deeper. The easiest way to encourage deeper thought is to say “And” when the child or teen seems to have reached a limit in thinking critically.
See this post on sneaky hypnotism for other ideas.
Tip seven: As always your child models you. So you need to hone your critical thinking skills. Parenting tips five and six, done with your child strengthens your EI as well as your child’s.
There are other ways. Any activity that involves you in debates about differing view points works.
Playing games of logic and doing puzzles. My six-year-old grandson has just discovered UNO which combines luck and logic. It is also a game that can be fun for children and adults. And there is always chess. Many of our foster children liked to play chess with David.
I do lots of puzzles. I enjoy them and do them as one of my Daily Emotional Fitness Exercise “Laugh, Play, and Create.
But having fun is not enough to keep critical thinking abilities improving. The experts say, such puzzles only improve you thinking skills if they are challenging, so push yourself. I always do those that are above my level and “cheat” by getting help from the answers, only I do not call it cheating, but learning.
Now is also time to talk a bit about computers, TV and social media. I advocate the use of all three, but with an eye to moderation and safety.
My grandchildren love videos. Early on they have been exposed to a number of the Baby Einstein series and Signing Time which teaches sign language being their favorite. They watch them during quiet time, so I can sneak in a quick power nap.
I know some parents ban all such things, but that only adds to their glamour. One of our neighbors why back when my kids were growing up. Banned TV. All three of their sons now work in Hollywood, producing movies and televisiou shows. Moderation is always a better choice than fanaticism.
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Thank you for all you do., Work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult and parenting a struggle.
This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt: Pick Your Gadget: Your local electronics store has just started selling time machines, anywhere doors, and invisibility helmets. You can only afford one. Which of these do you buy, and why?
However, it does have some relatedness. Right now my gadget of choice would be an electronic keyboard. Why? My grandkids love making music and are ready for an upgrade. Surfing Goodwill. Wish me luck.