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The Secrets to Raising a Smarter Child
- By Inderbir Sandhu, Ph.D


Develop Your Child's Thinking Skills

By Cheng Cheng Tan

We have to differentiate between information and ability to think. In this day and age, we have an information overload. However, does that mean that a person who is very knowledgeable can think well? Our education gives us information but does not really teach us how to use and apply them. Our ability to think is to apply knowledge we have on new situations and circumstances and sometimes even modifying them to suit the situation.

This is one way we can do it. For example, my son wants to buy a watch. How would he know which brand and type to choose? He probably wants to buy the watch that Peter has because it looks cool. We can give him other factors to consider. He should think about the cost (involve mathematics), durability, purpose and usefulness. After taking all these factors into consideration, let the child explain why he decided on that particular choice. He can then apply these same questions when he decides to buy something else e.g. handphone, shirt.

Edward de Bono, founder of the Cognitive Research Trust program, uses the PMI technique. PMI stands for pluses, minuses and interesting points. For any question that arise, note down all the PMI for that question. This helps you to decide on the better answer. Try it on any question. Remember you and your child get better with practice. The obvious answer may not necessarily be the best answer.

Kids have to learn how to decide too. They have to know that regardless whether it is a right or wrong decision, they have to be responsible because they made the choice. They have to be accountable too!! I am not saying they have to decide on everything but they should be given the chance to do so. Learning to make a decision is an art too.

Nobody can make right decisions all the time. However, we must have the courage to decide and be responsible for it. Surveys were carried out and found that managers who were promoted or not made roughly the same number of correct and wrong decisions. Those who were promoted simply dare to make the decision and take responsibility even though it is wrong. Those who were not promoted did not have the courage to decide because they were afraid to make the wrong decision.

Practice as often as you can. Ask questions like 'What will it be like if Chinese is the only language the world speaks and learn?', 'How different will my life be if I were born in Australia', 'If the light bulb was not invented, what do you think you could invent?'. The best thing is you can do this anywhere and you do not need any equipment at all. Remember to use PMI (pluses, minuses and interesting points) .


Cheng Cheng is an Asian mother (Singaporean) with two boys age about four and five. I have learnt a lot from them, other parents and books. Find out more about how parenting can be fun and easy at

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