Updated: Jan 23
Critical thinking is part of our everyday life, it helps us to make decisions, weigh up pro's and con's and make informed decisions. This can help us understand the depth of our action which always have consequences be it positive or negative - we can therefore figure out what action to take based on the costs and benefits we have deduced.
Critical thinking allows us the time and space to reflect and regulate the way we can feel about a situation and is a helpful tool for utilising self control. Critical thinking skills are important to us all as it is also rooted in your ability to build up emotional resilience, creating logical decisions rather than acting solely on emotive ones helps us to fill in gaps that could be missing when making decisions.
Having and developing this skill from a young age can be tough but not impossible if started at a young age. I wished I had access to a lot of the information readily available to me now when I was younger. It would have benefited me so much growing up through teenage and adulthood life because now it is like i'm going back to re-teach the younger me how to work with the older me that is placed in the adult world....but it is okay, I cannot guilt trip over something I have no awareness of when i needed it. The main thing is that I have he information now and I am willing to re-train myself to use these skills i have learnt in my adult body.
You may think to yourself, this article is how to develop a critically thinking CHILD, why is she talking about herself....you see there is a child inside us all that needs boundaries, support, parenting and love just the way the adult you needs it too. This article is aimed at supporting those who want to learn how to support their inner child as well as children around them that could use these tips - you will have a place of reference (YOURSELF) with their uses and can track any progress/regress and actively adjust where necessary.
So here are you have 4 simple tips to support critical thinking in young children and the child within adults.
1. Enable them to use their own experiences to envision how to solve a problem.
Sometimes it can seem as though children find it difficult to put into perspective aspects of thinking in different realms outside of their own experience. Talking from experience, it is easier to visualise in the mind and act out because it is a form of role play, but if themselves which is a fun way to get them thinking about problem solving from a somewhat external perspective while still having themselves at the focus. If you use an analogy that is reflective of their lives, there is a higher chance that they will be able to articulate a broader answer because they can see themselves in the story. For example, ask your child "When we went to.......and ........happened how did you overcome it?", "what you learnt there, could you apply it to this?", "what happens when you are presented with the same or similar issues again?"
2. Encourage them to think inside the box as well as outside the box.
Streamlined thinking can be good when you need to answer a specific question, but when you have an opportunity to explore your mind you need to use a broader range of skills to deliver the information effectively and in a unique way that allows you to stand out. This type of thinking allows children to understand the need for thinking like others to get to a consensus or mutual agreement without taking away individual's thoughts and in a succinct manner. This type of thinking helps to challenge this thinking too, to have both sides of an argument, in order to think about staying in their own lane, developing strong character and a sense of individuality. Ask you child:
3. Prompt the impact of their future self into the equation.
Caught in the here and now, we tend not to think so vastly about the impact that our future self could make to the situation....if any. Reminding children to think ahead of time can help to compartmentalise how best they can solve the problem and how they can emotionally cope with their decisions or the outcome. This could also help to make a better decision that is of benefit to more people than themselves, bringing out the humanitarian in them. They may find that the thing they are trying to solve is not present in their future, the pressure to resolve it is not that great, it any no longer be relevant with changing times or simply thinking harder about it they may come to a conclusion that is more viable to themselves and others around them......For example, ask your child: How do you deal with it in the now then? Will it matter in the future? How does your decision now effect next week? How will this impact you in 6 months from now? What traits do you need to develop in order to get to there? What can you do now to help?
4. If it was your friend, how would you respond to them about it?
Children, young people and even adults tend to think better and give advice from a stance of friendship. This teaches them to think in ways that are selfless of their own inhibitions, wants and needs. Bringing into the equation someone who they hold dear to them, such as a best friend, they automatically think in the best possible way that could be solved as they should want the best outcome for their friend. Being able to apply this emotional link to other situations and dealing with issues can aid them to think about the greater good outside of their immediate friendship/circle group. It can help develop a social view on how their ability to respond can not only benefit others but inevitably help themselves in the long run with gifts of well developed character traits rather than materialistic things. This places value on a persons qualities and not on the quality of their possessions. Ask your child, if you put yourself in my shoes, how would you....", "If it was [insert best friends name here] how would you support them?", "When [insert best friends name here] helped you with ....., how did it help you and how could you do this for someone else?"
Comment below on any more strategies you can think of to support the development of critical thinking