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


Teaching Your Children Independence Thinking Skills - How Parents can be Proactive in Training their children

By Andrew Loh

Tying shoelaces, buttoning the shirt, cleaning the study table, doing laundry and doing homework on own without parents' help - these are some of the most common, yet important responsibilities for a child. These simple activities may look and feel very simple to many of us. However, they can pose a big challenge for most of the children, who are under the age of 10 years. To an adult, these simple jobs may look monotonous and regular. However, these perceived simple tasks may look humungous to all children. Children must learn and master many skills and techniques, before they leave home for their higher studies. Acquiring independence thinking skills at an early age will help your children build confidence and self-esteem.

Young children and toddlers often like to do and perform very meaningful and understandable “adult-type” tasks. Many times, they are too enthusiastic about doing things on their own. What they lack are the techniques or methods to perform these tasks. To help your children succeed in learning independence skills, you may need to set up a congenial physical environment to assist them become more independent.

What you can do to help your children become independent thinker?

Providing ample opportunities: Provide plenty of opportunities for your children to learn independent thinking skills. Your children should understand that learning independence skills will help them become more efficient and empowered in their classrooms and out of them. As a parent, you may wish to cajole your children to do work on their own and without your help. When your children understand that doing small tasks with their own initiatives is good for them, they will try to work on small tasks that are simple and straightforward.

Encourage independence: As far as possible, give limited choices for your children. When your children have limited choices in front of them, they will try to achieve excellence in the tasks they want to perform. Ensure that you respect your children's preferences.

Example: Let us say that you are giving drinking chocolate to your children. You may now give just two options for them. Ask this simple question - “Do you need that orange cup or the blue cup?” Alternatively, your children want to dress up for their piano class. You may ask your children this simple question - “The red dress is that side drawer and the grey one is in the cupboard. Pick the one that you like”. Here, your children will try to assess the merit of your question and decide on their answers after thinking over it for some time.

Show flexibility towards your children: Becoming independent takes lot of time. Respect your child's natural limitations. Never ever, pressurize your children beyond certain limits. Make sure that you are integrating the training within the ambit of your work. Use the available opportunities to teach your children independence thinking skills.

Involve your children in making plans: You can ask your children to suggest ideas to help make the learning program a success. Children can give wonderful ideas. Use their abilities to help them succeed in learning independence thinking skills.

Explain what independence is: You may wish to explain the benefits and advantages of mastering independence thinking skills. Tell them how learning such skills will help in classroom and in other places.

Let children try to do work on own: Some children will try to do small tasks on own. For example, children love to button their shirts or tie shoelaces. Most children fail in their first few attempts because it is natural; children may not develop the necessary muscle-eye-bone coordination when they are young. Let them try to do their tasks. If they fail, you can help them, but after providing solutions to the problems. Tell them how they can button up their shirts and demonstrate the act by standing in front of them.

Be affirmative and reinforce positive assertions: Always, reinforce positive reinforcement and avoid negative ones. Be positive with your children and help them to remain positive as well. If they do any task with success, compliment them with your heart.

There are a number of independent thinking skills that your children must learn and master to become successful in life. Here are some of them:

Note: The most important skill that your children must learn is to realize that mastering independent thinking skills will help them achieve critical goals.

  1. Encourage your children to ask questions and find answers with their own efforts.

  2. Make sure that the questions will have have a “why” or “what happens if” component attached to them.

  3. Your children should find their own solutions or answers to problems. Buttoning a shirt is one classic example. Most children often fail in their first attempt. However, they will master the task with repetitions.

  4. Teach your children how to do experimentation. Your children should be able to experiment on simple challenges and tasks until they find a valid solution.

Please remember that learning independent thinking skills relates very closely to performing most common daily tasks. Children who develop critical independent thinking skills can be very successful in their life. Developing independence thinking skills may open up a repository of useful knowledge and information.

Featured Resource

Raising a Thinking Child: Help Your Young Child to Resolve Everyday Conflicts and Get Along with Others
By Myrna Shure and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo

This book provides a step-by-step format parents can follow in teaching young children to solve problems and resolve daily conflicts. Shure's no-nonsense, sincere approach to the narration resembles a seminar given by a highly competent and well-educated speaker.

The lessons are uniquely taught by way of imaginative dialogues between Theresa Foy DiGeronimo and various children. Solutions are reinforced through game-playing activities and communication techniques. The well-presented, yet tedious, demonstrations cleverly assist the authors in driving home their methods. Stressing the importance of developing thinking skills in growing children, a parent's guide introduces the I Can Problem Solve program.


Featured Resource


Child Development

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