Teaching Children How to Think

· April 11, 2016

Educating is not easy, and it is even less so when it comes to teaching how to think. This requires effort and dedication. To teach thought, the first thing that we have to consider is that our children are already capable of doing it, for, despite their young age, they have already started developing their logical and reasoning abilities.

Obeying is not learning

Contrary to what we are used to hearing, following directions is not the same as learning, issuing commands is not teaching; it just serves to create submission.

Boy Flying Kite on a Book

You can ask a pet to obey, for they do not think and their training happens because they obey in exchange for a prize or recognition.

However, our children, being human beings, despite their still young age, have the ability to think, to understand, and to reason, and of course, they have the right to be themselves, with their own ideas, convictions, and beliefs, even if we do not agree with them.

Education is identical with helping the child realize his potentialities.

-Erich Fromm-


The difficulty of educating without submission

Without a doubt, if we look at this from the perspective of an adult educator, it is much more difficult to educate without asking for obedience. It’s harder to teach using mutual respect, valuing and teaching our children how to think.

During our childhood, we have the ability to absorb everything that is around us and to go on forming an idea of the world, adapted to our age. This means that if we simply teach our children to obey, when they reach adulthood, it will be difficult for them to exercise critical thinking. They’ll have a fear of punishment and will be hesitant to express their own opinions. But the child will learn that he is not important to the world, feeling insecure as a result.

As such, the difficulty of education comes without a doubt when we want to teach the child to think, to understand, to draw their own conclusions and reflections.

Dedication, time, and stimulation

Teaching critical thinking implies dedication, time, patience, and knowing the right strategies. For this, it is necessary to have a reflexive, respectful attitude that stems from love.

Without a doubt, we must allow our children to grow emotionally healthily, to feel loved, respected, and listened to. As such, they will grow up sure of themselves and strong enough to face the adversities of life when they are an adult, knowing how to reflect on these challenges and make the best decisions.

How to teach thought?

Woman Holding Umbrella Over Boy With Heart

To teach thought, it is important to keep in mind a series of educational strategies that day by day will allow the child to grow, defining himself, learning and understanding the world and what is more beneficial for him and for his life path, always counting on our love, support, and closeness. These strategies are:

  • In the first place, showing and expressing to our child that he is the most important thing for us in life, sharing with him the affection, love, and recognition that he deserves for overcoming challenges, learning, and growing.
  • Offering them the opportunity to make their own path; that is to say, not giving them finished, solved, or ended situations, but rather, through our support and accompaniment, allowing them to do it, despite the risk of their making a mistake.
  • Communication and language are fundamental, and with them, we are referring to the verbal, nonverbal, and the emotional. It is very important to talk to them in a clear, simple and affectionate way.
  • It is important to listen to their reasoning and their small decisions, to explain the consequences of these, and in some cases, to let them experience the consequences of their own convictions so that they will draw their own conclusions and learn their own lessons from experience.
  • Reinforcing, being positive with them for their small successes and discoveries, and motivating them towards the things that we as adults believe are important for them to learn, for example, hygiene habits, study, behaviors, etc.

It is important to come to agreements, consensual consequences, so that through communication, understanding, and negotiation, the children take part in the decisions, norms, and values that we want to teach them. We must encourage them to think for themselves about what motivates them the most and fills them with hope.

“Do not shelter your children from the difficulties of life; instead, teach them to overcome them.”

-Louis Pasteur-

In this way our children will grow up emotionally healthy, sure of themselves, and capable of making their own decisions in life.