Have you ever stopped to think about what a blessing it is to be a good thinker? Now I’m not necessarily talking about being a genius or intellectually gifted. I’m mostly referring to being able to use good problem-solving skills and good old-fashioned common sense.
As this world becomes ever more complex and temptation-laden, it becomes more and more important that we teach our kids how to build their mental muscles. Listed below are some quick tips:
• When your kids ask you for help with something, encourage them to try a bit longer before you jump in to help them. The only way to really learn good thinking skills is by having to figure out some things on your own.
I remember my children often asking how to spell a word or the answer to a multiplication problem and I remember their frustration with me frequently saying look it up then you will remember it. I would sometimes just give them the answer, but more often than not, I referred to look it up.
• Ask them as many questions as possible. Examples include, “What else might you try? What have you seen other people do to solve this problem? What would happen if you tried_________? Where might you learn how to do that? Is that something you could learn about in a book, by asking someone, or by looking on the internet?”
When we are asking questions, this gets them thinking and engages a different part of the brain. It also empowers them to find answers on their own. When they work to find or solve a problem themselves, this increases their self-esteem and problem-solving skills and it’s that what we want for our children.
• Allow them to mess up. Too frequently, we step in and tell kids exactly what to do when we worry that they might make a mistake. When the consequences are small, allow them to blow it and learn.
It is difficult and sometimes heart-wrenching to step back and allow our kids to struggle with learning to solve their problems, but it is ultimately worth it. Mistakes are learning opportunities. If we don’t remind them once again to don’t forget your jacket, we allow the consequence of being miserable and cold to be the teacher. These small consequences over time increase the odds that they will learn from their mistakes.
Have fun with your kids and remember to love them while not getting pulled into their problems. Let them see you love raising them and that you have faith in them to make decisions (age appropriate) on their own. This increases the chance of them making good decisions when they are 16 and making major choices when you are not around.
Adapted from Love and Logic Parenting
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