5 Keys to Encourage Reflection in Children

In order to encourage reflection in children, you need to look for appropriate strategies according to their age.
5 Keys to Encourage Reflection in Children
Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Maria Fátima Seppi Vinuales.

Last update: 28 September, 2022

Children tend to see the world through curiosity and exploration. Generally, they wonder about things that we adults naturalize and take for granted. However, sharing with them is an excellent opportunity to look at everything with eyes of wonder, to be enriched by their ideas, and also to encourage reflection in children as a habit. Let’s see how to do it and what its benefits are.

Why do we want to encourage reflection in children?

There’s no doubt that encouraging reflection in children has great benefits, but above all, we give them the opportunity to become agents and protagonists of their own learning.

At the same time, it’s also very important to strengthen the relationship between the different agents involved in the education of children. In other words, it can’t be the exclusive responsibility of the family or the school. The more all parties share this work, the better it will be for children. These are some of the many benefits of encouraging reflection in children.

  • It allows them to generate critical thinking.
  • It contributes to developing empathy and understanding situations from multiple points of view.
  • It helps them to establish relationships between different situations.
  • It contributes to the development of imagination.
  • Encouraging reflection helps in impulse control: If we teach them to reflect, they’ll have more tools to do so before acting.

5 ways to encourage reflection in children

It’s very important for reflection to become a daily occurrence at home, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. It doesn’t have to be something very organized or structured, but it does have to be constant. We can also use different elements to help stimulate reflection, for example, using a story or a song as a trigger. In addition, it’s key to stop separating intelligence from emotional intelligence.

In this sense, it’s also about getting to know the children and identifying the most appropriate learning strategy for them. Some will have better thinking skills when some visual support is used, while others prefer to do it through music. Also, it’s always advisable to take into account their age.

Here are some of the ways to encourage reflection in children:

1. Help them to relate situations

When the child asks or tells something about an event, it’s good to help them to relate it to other situations. To do this, we can invite them to use examples when explaining something.

2. Teach them the meaning of words

When the child uses certain words or objects, you can ask them to explain if they know what they mean and what the words are used for. For example, if he says the word “vehicle,” you can ask him what it’s used for. This way, you help them think of the many situations for which it can be used, such as going on a trip to grandma’s, getting to work, or taking pets to the vet, among others.

3. Guide the child with questions

Guiding the child with questions will allow them to think about different scenarios and emotions. For example, reflection in children can also go hand in hand with the development of empathy. So, some questions we can ask them are the following: How would you feel if that happened to you, why do you think that person acts that way, do you think you could do something about it, or what would you do in their place?

4. Suggest different activities

Developing creativity allows children to find multiple paths and ways to reach different outcomes. It also teaches them that beyond the four walls of the home, there’s another world. And the more they get to know it, the more they’re enriched.

Then, you can suggest different activities, such as playing games, making crafts, dancing, singing, or playing sports. This will allow them to get to know other things and not take anything for granted.

A family having a conversation on the couch.
Dialoguing as a family and debating about different topics is a good exercise to encourage reflection in children.

5. Create spaces for dialogue

Creating spaces for dialogue and debate in your family also helps children develop their capacity for reflection. According to their age, you can suggest a topic on which each one should express their opinion or what they think about it. In addition, the aspects for and against should be raised. These can be current topics, some that are trending on social networks, or more general ones, such as what music they like the most.

Teach that there are multiple answers

When we encourage reflection in children, what we do is to show them the multiple faces of reality. This way, they learn that there are many ways of being and living and that we’re not all in the same conditions. This way, they come to understand that there’s no absolute truth and that there are multiple ways of understanding a situation or approaching a problem. In any case, it’s always important to guide them on values and respect.

We also encourage autonomous thinking so that they’re not like soldiers or robots who repeat what others or even their parents do. This way, they learn that they’re capable of thinking for themselves.

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