How to Speak to Children so They Learn How to Think Independently

Parents and educators are often challenged to get children to learn more complex and flexible thought processes. How can you speak so that your child thinks independently?
How to Speak to Children so They Learn How to Think Independently
Marián Carrero Puerto

Written and verified by the psychologist Marián Carrero Puerto.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Do you know how to speak so that your children learn how to think on their own? Are there any tools that can help? Many parents are concerned about education in early childhood. In fact, teaching and learning how to think is the primary objective of education in today’s society.

“Teaching your child to think implies certain knowledge, procedures, and attitudes: knowledge about knowledge itself, thought, intelligence, and metacognition; procedures, methods, and strategies to develop intellectual capacities; attitudes of discovery, curiosity, admiration, and satisfaction with mental activity, processes, and successes.” (García-García, E., 1994)

We’re immersed in a society with continuous scientific, technological, economic, and political changes, as well as new values and patterns of sociocultural behavior. Repetitive learning is not appropriate for children to be able to function in the world.

In fact, for today’s society, we need an education that develops the ability to learn and the ability to think. That’s why learning to learn and learning to think are important objectives.

In this way, it’s necessary to develop in each person the ability to learn and think for themselves, enhance the intellectual and moral autonomy of the individual, and respect the same autonomy in others. In addition, when it comes to teaching and learning to think, it’s essential not to establish in advance any limits to someone’s mental capacity.

How to Speak to Children so They Learn How to Think Independently

“Anyone can have knowledge, but the art of thinking is the rarest gift of nature.”

– King Frederick II The Great –

Is there a method for encouraging children to learn how to think?

Parents and educators are often challenged to get children to learn more complex and flexible thought processes. They also need to be able to express and use those thought processes when making decisions in various contexts.

In most cases, achieving this involves a change in the intentions of parents or educators so that their intervention is directed towards children learning to make their own decisions in a more conscious way.

During this stage, and practically from the first year of life, the child will learn different procedures for planning and regulating their behavior. Then, children learn basic procedures of play, expression, and communication, as well as knowledge of their immediate environment.

Different ways of organizing this knowledge or experiences can help us design global, interesting, and sufficiently complex activities so that children, helped by parents and educators, increase their capacity to act thoughtfully.

“Thinking is the hardest work there is. Perhaps that’s the reason why there are so few people who practice it.” 

– Henry Ford –

Consider this example

If you consider your children’s physical and social discovery, you can develop activities based on forming interesting questions that allow them to come up with multiple solutions. Then, these are the basis for learning to plan and regulate their own performance. This also can help contribute to the further development of their metacognitive skills.

How to Speak to Children so They Learn How to Think Independently

The best activities are ones that allow reflective communication and representation. For example, you could perform an analysis of manifestations of different moods with young children through short videos, images, or stories. Later, you can ask them how they feel at that moment, why they think they feel that way, and other important questions.

“The experience of the world doesn’t consist of the number of things that have been seen, but in the number of things that have born fruit.”

– Leibniz –

Reflecting on different communication situations with parents or educators contributes to the development of strategic thinking, as well as planning and regulation skills. These are also closely related to the development of language in infants.

If you’re willing to learn how to speak to your children to help them learn how to think on their own, don’t hesitate! With the example above, you have access to many ways to encourage independent thinking in your children.

Go ahead, consider how to speak, and give it a try with your child!


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • García García, E. (1994). Enseñar y aprender a pensar. El Programa de Filosofía para Niños.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.