Simple ways to help children think on their own

As children’s curiosity sparks, keep answers simple to help them develop thinking skills.

When children ask the question “Why?” fifty times a day, it can quickly become frustrating. Adults need to remember that children’s brains are developing and curiosity is coming into play. We need to answer their questions, keeping the answers simple. This is a great time to introduce the question, “What do you think the answer is?” This conversation will help the child develop their thinking skills and also let us know what they are thinking.  A lot of times we discover that what the child wants to know is not what the original question was. Michigan State University Extension recommends always appropriately answer questions in regards to their age.

When we catch children squabbling, try to have the children talk out what the problem is and come up with a solution themselves. This is a great way to help children use their thinking skills with problem solving. For example, when fighting over a toy, if one of the children walks away not wanting to problem solve, than simply give the toy to the other child. Tell the children that you will give them five minutes to problem solve and if they can’t do it on their own, than you will have to make the decision for them. This will teach them to compromise with other children.

We should limit children to one to two hours of quality television, computer and video time per day. As you watch shows with your child, ask them questions like, what is going on, why do you think they did that or what could they have done differently?  Use your regular mealtimes for great conversations as well. Talk to your child about your own childhood. Equally important is to read; read and then read more with your child! Visiting your local library often will help with positive child development as well.

Help your child by following their own interest. If they like trucks or animals find books, shows or exhibits of these things. This will expand their world and thinking skills.  You can assist your child to choose a project of their own. Ask them what they want to make and then have them get materials around the home to build it. If you don’t have something they need, talk about what else you could use, this will help them become resourceful.

It is OK to let children fail. Failure is a wonderful way to teach children to learn to try to do things in different ways and problem solve on their own. This is a lasting life lesson; we learn our best from making mistakes. Help your child not become frustrated over a situation by simply trying again.

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