Critical Thinking Skills for Children

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I recently read an article about kids whom the judge said were “brainwashed” by a parent in a custody case.  Emotional connections to family are good.  It occurred to me that with all of us (kids or adults), our ability to be open to truth or reality can be very clouded by emotions at times.  There are things that you can do with your kids before they get into a situation where they can be manipulated by someone who knows how to take advantage of their emotions.

To start with, empower your kids to be comfortable with thinking:

  1. Encourage them to ask questions when they do not understand something.   question
  2. Ask them questions so that you are clear when they may be confused about something.
  3. Talk with them about how they make decisions when they are with their friends.
  4. Question how he/she came to his/her conclusion.  Do they believe what they see on TV?
  5. Help your child see how things fit together logically.
  6. Be sure to nurture their skill by letting them know they are qualified to examine the details of different situations.
  7. Invite them to research facts to see if something is true.
  8. Call them to behavior that is fair and just.  Remind them of the Golden Rule:  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  This will help them to keep in mind other people’s feelings when coming to their conclusions.
  9. Help your children stay focused on the topic of discussion so that they can make relevant connections to details.
  10. Role Model how to think a topic through and not allow emotion to over rule logic.

Critical thinking means making clear, reasoned judgments. It involves evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion.  It is disciplined thinking that is clear, rational, open-minded, and informed by evidence.  Just like the skills developed on the basketball court or ball field, these need to be developed.  The earlier you can start the better.

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