Teaching Children to Think
A child’s immediate reaction to criticism or unkind words and actions can be inappropriate.Teaching children to respond to difficult situations with appropriate words and behaviors is difficult, but important for successful social interactions and relationships.
Creative thinking techniques can develop a child’s mind. Improved thinking abilities will help them to understand more both in an academic sense and in as an individual.
1. Take a Time Out – Taking a break from a situation allows children to gather their thoughts before speaking or acting.Teach children to take time to think about a response. The time out can be as short as counting to ten, saying the alphabet, or removing themselves from the area for a few minutes.Taking a break to gather their thoughts and emotions is the initial step in responding appropriately to difficult situations.
Thinking is a skill. It is something that is learned and developed. In most cases this skill is taken for granted especially where children are concerned.
The ability to think is looked at as something that a child either possesses or doesn’t. But it is not as straight forward as you might at first believe. Thinking is a tool, and it is something that can be sharpened.
With children it is very easy to get them thinking as they are at a stage in their life where that is what they do most of the time, so why not give them things to think about that will benefit their learning and personal development.
Think about the Situation – Sometimes children misunderstand the jokes, comments, or actions of other people.Teach children to review situations and ask themselves questions.For example: Was the comment/action directed at me?Could it have been a joke?Is this person usually unkind or critical or could they be having a bad day?What did their body language say (i.e. Were they smiling as if joking? or Were they looking at someone else)? Was this person telling me about a rule or something to keep me safe?
By exposing your child to stimulating sights, people and experiences, they will begin to ask themselves questions like ‘Why does it look like that?’ or ‘How does he do that?’ This kind of thinking is great exercise for the brain. As your child searches for answers, he or she will begin to explore the many possibilities of how these things came to be.
As they find answers to these questions, they will also cover answers to other questions at the same time. This ability to answer many things may then make them appear to be more intelligent than another child the same age. But the fact is that the other children the same age have the same thinking ability, they simply have not had the same opportunity to explore their minds.
It is quite possible to help a child to develop their thinking without even going to great efforts. Questioning things such as, ‘Why is it there? What is its purpose?’ gives an example to the child of how this questioning can help to understand things better.
Creative exercises are invaluable in expanding children’s thinking abilities. It gives them the opportunity to explore imagined possibilities. Through an artistic work a child can create something unknown or explore something they don’t fully understand or even use their own emotions to produce their work from.
Creative activity therefore offers a forum for thinking and can easily be used as a tool for developing a child’s thinking. It has the perfect ingredients simply by not being there until there is a finished product. That product could be music, visual or a performed piece of work. Whichever way it is represented, the final product needs to go through a process of thought before it can materialise.
Creative thinking is a most useful tool in life and many people consider it as a high form of intellect as it offers the ability to solve problems and to create what does not yet exist, sometimes even from a product that is unknown.
For people who are used to only thinking in terms of what has always existed, it takes a lot of effort to let go of these set ways, and the best way to tackle this problem is through art where thoughts can be explored without consequence.
Role Play –
Model and practice responses to different situations with role play.Use examples of situations that may happen or already have happened.Practicing difficult situations when children are calm provides the opportunity to discuss options and consequences.Have children demonstrate the words and actions that are good responses to the situations.Example scenarios include: Someone cutting in line; Being called a name; Someone bumping the child; A friend making a joke; Someone saying something about the child’s art work or how they play sports; A classmate taking something the child owns.
Take care. Be happy.