The trouble with growing up in a “follow the rules” environment is that one never learns to critically evaluate what one hears. The world is all too familiar with what can happen when grown or almost-grown children, always told “this is the way to behave/think,” meet a larger world with different values. From one stem of that situation sprout the rebels who reject every positive concept their parents tried to instill in them; from another, the crowd that stubbornly ignores (and sometimes violently opposes) all evidence that their ingrained ideas are anything but flawless.
If we want to rear an effective next generation, it pays to help our children learn critical-thinking and decision-making early on—yes, even at the price of their occasionally proving us wrong.
- Eliminate “because I said so” from your vocabulary. More often than not, the “I’m in charge and that’s that” approach is an excuse for avoiding your own critical-thinking responsibilities. When there’s legitimate need to assert head-of-household authority over “because I WAAANT it!!!” attitudes (guaranteed to happen occasionally in the best of families), keep your own pride out of the equation, and be sure you have stated (and personally understand) the true reasons behind your “no.”
- Require everyone to explain the “why” behind new requests and ideas. Do your part by really listening to, and honestly considering, every point made.
- Let your children learn by trial-and-error experimentation rather than always jumping in to show them “how.” If they’re becoming visibly frustrated, offer gentle guidance in question form: “What might happen if you started from the other end?” “Do you think you need a break before trying again?” And definitely never tell them their ideas are “impossible” and shouldn’t be tested at all.
- Give your kids permission to discuss anything with you, and avoid passing judgment while you listen. When they’re teenagers dealing with serious peer pressure, you’ll both be glad the open-communications habit is already established.
- Be aware that there are few universal absolutes—and probably fewer than you personally take for granted. Beware of letting your personal comfort zone determine your assessment of children’s thoughts and ideas.
- Emphasize always considering the other party’s point of view—and never labeling anyone “bad” or “stupid,” however much you disagree with their opinions.
- Never discount a child’s opinions simply for coming from youth and inexperience. Often, those are the very qualities that allow for unbiased insight into new and better options.
Note to Teachers
Especially if you work in a diverse district, you may face the challenge of kids interrupting you or classmates with “my mom/grandpa/Sunday school teacher says this is always right/wrong.” Classroom rules, established and visibly posted early in each new semester, should include:
- Always wait your turn to speak.
- Always treat others with respect and benefit of the doubt, even when you’re sure they’re wrong.
- Always include the reasoning behind any assertion you make. A legitimate principle deserves better defense than “someone else told me so.”
Be sure to follow these rules yourself when interacting with students. And remember, the most important lesson you teach may be: the value of a conclusion is not measured by the number of people who can be immediately convinced to agree.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT PRIMARY SCHOOL FOR YOUR CHILDREN
Effective education means more than high scores on standardized tests. It means influencing children to develop their unique individual skills, practice effective decision-making, and grow confidence to become effective contributing members of society. Often, a private school has greater freedom than a public one to emphasize those values.
At Shady Oak Primary, we place highest priority on active learning, critical thinking, and teamwork. Why not consider us for your family’s educational needs? Contact us today for more information.
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!