Reason dictates that as we grow, so too does our ability to think critically. Raising children, however, isn’t always “rational.” Just ask any parent. Our precious offspring are born with countless abilities and endless curiosity. They are not, however, born with the ability to think critically. It’s up to us to teach them deductive logic. It takes time and patience, but the rewards are truly great.
It’s never too early to start. Some things parents can do:
- If you are instructing your child, explain the reasons why you are doing the things you do.
- Encourage them to ask questions.
- Where possible, invite them to try it and ask them what they might do differently.
- Ask them what they think and why. Encourage their curiosity.
- If your child has difficulty or disagrees, allow them to voice their rationale respectfully (you don’t have to agree).
- Be open to their thoughts and opinions; if it doesn’t make sense to you, ask them to explain (it might make sense after all).
- In problem solving, help them to eliminate irrelevant information.
- Ask them what are the facts? Where do we find them?
- Ask them what others think, and if they were the others, why might they think that?
- Teach them the difference between fact and opinion (evidence vs. interpretation).
When we do this, we give them the tools they need to make good decisions, because their decisions have consequences. Some parents believe children should learn from consequences alone. Well, I’d sometimes say, “Yes,” and sometimes, “No.” It’s important to understand that there are three types of consequences:
2.) Logical and
The first is organic, it occurs without our help and is often the best teacher, but usually the least desirable. For example, your new driver drove too fast, they got a ticket, resulting in fines and penalties. This is bad. Now they will have to work to pay the fines and decide how they can avoid this in the future (ex. leave earlier next time and mind the speed limits).
Of course, we would rather our children didn’t have to learn THAT lesson, so that leads us to the Logical Consequence. These lessons have a lesser impact, but are still very effective. Explain this possible scenario to your new driver. Ask them if this happens, then what will be the outcome? What are better choices? Walking them through the scenario will help them to build their deductive logic skills (and maybe save some fines and penalties).
The Imposed Consequence is the least effective. Taking the same scenario, the parent says “If you get a ticket or are driving too fast you’ll lose your driving privileges.” The parent pays the fines; the child doesn’t learn to be accountable. Worse, the parent has to drive their child everywhere while he plots for the next Fast and Furious adventure.
Sure, you can do things for them faster, better and easier, but why? As parents, we must allow them to learn from their mistakes and face the consequences of their actions. It requires great courage, but the payoff is even greater. When we teach our children how to think things through, we give them power. This is the power they will need to work things out for themselves.
Children who understand deductive logic will blossom into adults who thrive in complex work environments, as well as their personal relationships. They are responsible, diplomatic, and creative thinkers. They will be equipped to enjoy lively discussions with varied opinions, and draw their own informed conclusions. And isn’t that just what we all hoped they would be? I know this to be true; I see this when I look at my two young adults.