Independent thinking skills are a great tool to help young children with transitionary times such as starting school. It instills confidence and reduces anxiety by teaching them that they are capable of making decisions based on their own. You can help them develop these skills with the following.
When they ask you why they can’t have ice cream before bed, don’t brush them off. Tell them exactly why you have refused the request. For example, “ice cream is a treat that has to be eaten in moderation and too much isn’t good for you” or “eating right before bed can make it harder to fall asleep.”
Educate Through Play
Playtime can encourage independence, but it shouldn’t always be something that kids do off on their own to give the adults a break. By making time to engage with children through puzzles and interactive board games you aren’t just bonding with them, you’re teaching patience and fairness by modeling them.
Make sure your child knows they can come to you with problems. Sometimes that might be how to deal with a bully or it could be “why is the sky blue?” You don’t always need to know the answer. Admitting you’re stumped can be equally helpful, as it gives you a chance to model problem-solving skills, such as going to the library to research the topic or asking someone else for help.
Scouting organizations can be boon in teaching wholesome values and independent thinking skills. They often host weekly activities as well as encourage children to work on their own to earn patches and pins. Older teens may have debate teams available to them, which will ask them to think critically about complex issues as well as thoroughly explain the reasoning behind their opinions.
Teaching independent thinking doesn’t just build self-esteem, but competency and understanding. By teaching them, you are helping your child make good decisions even when you aren’t there.