Don’t teach kids what to think...teach them how to think. Their creativity & ability will amaze you.
Don’t teach your kids what to think… teach them how to think. The process of thinking is actually the process of asking questions. Questions do two things: 1, they stimulate responses. 2, they guide the focus of whoever is involved in those questions. So, if you’re not getting good answers (or any answers at all), ask different and better questions.
How many times have your kids asked you a question from their homework? How many times have your kids asked you what to do in a particular situation? How many times have you told them the answer?
The key to Parenting Secret #7 to Empower Kids is to let them think for themselves. The way to do this is, when kids ask a question that stimulates them to find the answer rather than just telling them the answer. In other words, ask them a question about their question. Remember, the person who asks the questions controls the focus of the conversation. This focuses the child on finding his or her own answer to the problem rather than focusing on you as the answer.
Another key to this is asking kids, “What do you think?”… When you do this you find that one of two different things happen. Most commonly you get the response, “Idunah” which is Kid speak for “I don’t know.”
Now the way the brain works, it takes that phrase, “I don’t know” as the statement it is. It takes it as a command. This gives the brain permission to shut down and, not know. So, instead of going back and looking into that vast storage vault of information our brains have, it simply accepts the command not to know. Your brain doesn’t even bother to go look for the answer on that subject.
The best response to “I don’t know” is to say “I’m not asking you what you know. I’m asking you what you think.” Explain to your child how they can never be wrong what they think. A fact can be wrong, but what you think can’t be. The response might not be the correct answer to their question, but it is the correct answer to what they think. Secret #3: No means Yes.
If your child still says he or she does not know what she thinks, one of two things is happening. Either he or she really is being lazy and doesn’t want to be bothered or he/she really doesn’t have a thought. If that’s the case, what is the best way to stimulate thought…ask another question!
We don’t want the kids’ brains to shut down. So, “I don’t know” is NEVER an acceptable answer. If they still respond that way, it is time to break out the master key to unlock the brain. When they say, “I don’t know,” redirect them by saying, “I know you don’t know and that’s OK. But, if you did know what would the answer be?”
What that does is reframe the question. You’ll be amazed at the answers, often correct, when you enable their brains to look for the information they already have. This is because the questions focus the thought.
The final tool to use with your kids dealing with problem solving is having them ask themselves what they DO know about a particular problem. This takes the focus off of what they don’t know and allows them to make progress.
Better questions make for better answers.
Mark Papadas is a nationally recognized children’s empowerment expert and author of the highly acclaimed book “10 Secrets to Empower Kids and Awaken the Child in You” (available at Amazon.com) as well as President of The I AM 4 Kids Foundation – a recognized 501c3 charity committed to providing its personal empowering programs to public schools across the U.S. at NO COST to the SCHOOLS.