From personal experience and interactions with other parents we want our children to grow up to be the best people they can be. And sometimes it is exhausting; there are definitely times where it is easier just to give them the answers or do it for them but ultimately that makes it harder on them in the long run.
In this short read I’ve compliled a list of easy questions to ask your children to get their brain flowing and make sure they are taking ownership of their observations in this world.
- Why? The easiest way to get your kids thinking and processing what they’re saying or doing is asking them why. Why do you think that? Why will that work? Why won’t that work? Asking them why (similar to the way they ask you when they’re trying to figure the world out) makes them truly think about what they’re saying/doing instead of them just blinding moving forward.
- What do you think will happen? Asking them to predict the outcome and then following up with a “were you right or wrong?” helps them begin to make connections between actions and consequences. It will take some time before this part of their brain is fully formed and functional but you can start building those neural pathways as early as 2 by having conversations with your kids about what they think will happen when they do x, y, or z.
- How would you solve this problem? Whether it’s the “new” math, an issue with friends or a problem with a teacher asking your child(ren) how they would solve the problem and then walking them through their predictions about it (see number 2) you give them agency over their choices and decisions. You can guide the discussion to help get them to the right answer but ultimately this allows them to feel confident in making decisions or solving problems when you’re not around.
- How would you feel if you were in her/his/their shoes? We are naturally self-centered beings. It’s what allows us to stay safe and quickly identify potential dangers because we have a lot of “me, me, me” on the brain. However when it comes to being a functioning member of a society whether that means as a global citizen or as a member in a family it is critical for kids (and adults) to develop empathy for the way things we say or do will affect others. It’s not always perfect and we do screw it up probably more often than we’d like but by asking your kid(s) to put them in someone else’s shoes that helps them understand how to be a better person.
- How did you (or can you) figure that out? When our kids come to us with issues or questions sometimes it is super easy just to fire off the answer but in the long run that doesn’t help them become comfortable at finding the answer themselves. There will always be questions to answer or problems to solve but when we offer up the solution to our kids right away in the name of being tired, making it easier, or having to get something done (or out of the house) it will be harder on them (and us) in the long run.
When you engage your child(ren)’s critical thinking skills at a young age you start building the neural pathways they need to be better people in the long run. School will be easier and life will be easier if you discuss and let your kids come up with some answers on their own — even when you know their wrong. Wrong answers or failing at something isn’t a bad thing until you, as the parent, make it so. Wrong answers are just an attempt at gathering more information about the world around us and stepping back into the fray to try and get the right answer will give your child(ren) much more confidence as they move through this world.
Don’t be afraid to get messy, make mistakes, and ask questions. This is how we all learn but sometimes adults forget that magic.