Ways of Teaching Your Children to Think Critically

October 7, 2018
Teaching your children to have a critical eye means respecting their freedom. But in the long, it'll help them form their own personality and character.

Teaching your children to think critically isn’t an easy thing to do. You’re up against two challenges: raising your children to think for themselves, but also wanting them to be obedient. However, it’s simply a question of methods.

In practice, a parent’s authority can be used to create a liberating learning experience. There are also different techniques that you can use to teach them to think for themselves. Conversation, debate, and daily experiences, for example, are indispensable. 

Common Sense Training

Any common topic can be useful for teaching children to think for themselves. “How did you like your breakfast?” or “Why did you like that film?” are great places to start. These questions are vehicles for a meaningful exchange and teaching your children to think critically.

Any response could lead to another question. This type of conversation, in turn, may lead children to ask questions of their own. Adults act as guides in this process.

However, you shouldn’t abuse this role and drive them in a particular direction. Rather, the exercise should be an exploration, allowing you to get to know your children’s tastes and opinions.

Parents Who Listen

It’s not just about asking questions or suggesting things but listening too. This could be a problem for parents who want to impose their own point of view. It’s important to realize that there is no single way for your children to learn to think for themselves and they need to be able to make their own choices.

So, you need to listen attentively to their opinions, tastes, and their values. And, if they say something which allows you to explore more, even better. There’ll be time afterwards if there is a value judgement which needs addressing.

Ways of Teaching Your Children to Think Critically

This brings us to the next matter: having good judgement and being calm before you start. Parents often think that they know everything and need to intervene all the time. Sometimes, with this responsibility, we forget to stop and analyze things ourselves.

Teaching Children to Think Critically Gives Them Freedom

We’re all born free, but for children, there are two people responsible for their freedom: their parents. Parents need to remember that they’re the guardians of this freedom, not the owners of it. Freedom is really important for your children to form their own character and be successful in life.

Since the arrival of the Millennial generation, child psychologists have recommended making sure that children have a certain amount of freedom. This means participation, the freedom to have fun, and listening to what children think.

“A community that doesn’t know how to think, doesn’t know how to live”
–Concepcion Arenal–

But parental commitment doesn’t stop there. This freedom needs to be extended as time goes on. There is no one better than a mother or father to know how their children are advancing. It’s almost a mathematical formula: the better their judgement, the more freedom they have.

Some Parents Manipulate Their Children

Authority and obedience shouldn’t be synonymous with manipulation. When there’s a problem, you might scold them and tell them off, or use other methods to correct your children’s behavior. But being parents doesn’t mean pretending that your children think exactly the same as you.

There are many parents who use manipulation and fear to teach their children. This practice is very common, for example, when going through a divorce, a separation, or when parents have shared custody. Children are often used to hurt the other parent.

As your children grow up, they’ll come to realize many things. Teaching your children to think critically involves respecting their freedom. This will be much better for their personal development.

Ways of Teaching Your Children to Think Critically

Failure is Fine

Making mistakes is how we learn and this applies to children too. Common sense is the result of trying, failing, and learning. If you don’t allow your children to make mistakes as a result of what they think, you won’t strengthen their judgement.

Shouting and overreacting will only emotionally hurt your children. You’ll only raise introverted, quiet, and self-absorbed children. Teaching your children to think critically means letting them express themselves.

There are also situations where you can let your children make decisions. For example, you can let them buy some cookies, a toy, or even something for the house. This will allow your children to use their observation skills and start developing their own tastes and preferences.