How to Cultivate a Critical Mind
August 25, 2014  |  Written by M. Rodrigo Brao

A critical mind is the capacity of evaluating if the information received is accurate or not. Knowing how to critically analyse a subject or a problem makes us consider different possibilities so we can think of solutions. The question is: what does this have to do with children? A lot. Developing a critical mind is important because they learn to make good decisions and grow to have a unique personality. Although this skill does not fully develop until adolescence, it´s good for children to start early on. Do you want to know whether your child has a critical mind and how you can help him develop it? Keep reading!

First you should determine if your child has developed a critical mind and what type of child he is. Experts at The Critical Thinking Foundation believe there are three:

The Non-Thinker: Children who do not analyse their surroundings because their parents do it for them. They do not ask questions and believe everything they hear or see on TV and what their friends have to say.

The Manipulator: Children who think about things just to get something in return. They believe in everything as long as it helps them accomplish their goals without caring if their decision affects others or not. They know how to handle other children to get what they want.

The Critical Mind: Children who question things because they are aware that is the way to learn. They don´t always believe what they hear or see on TV and are interested in understanding their situation and others.

In order to help your children develop a critical mind, they must think it´s fun. This idea will motivate them to make an effort in order to improve their way of thinking just as they work hard to become a good soccer player or painter.


But children won´t be able to do it on their own. Parents should motivate them to think. How can you do this? The Critical Thinking Foundation provides several videos that show techniques to help adults teach children to think better and suggest 5 simple exercises to practice daily.

Get Them to Ask: Motivate them to ask for an explanation or examples when they don´t understand something. Make them realize that being confused isn´t something bad and that everything can be understood if they ask. In this post, we suggested that children are “imitation machines”. If you don´t ask, they won´t either so practice what your preach.

Learning to Be Precise: Don´t let them take something for granted. Have them make sure to check facts when they are researching something. As if it were a game, ask them to play at being a detective. For example, if they say: The moon is round, activate their curiosity by asking them how they know it´s true, who told them or where have they´ve read it. Also, check the source. “Your text book might not always be right, make sure you double check the source.”

Value discussion: When discussing a certain subject, show them how to support what they are saying. Using a respectful tone, ask them to  give you reasons that support their idea and  question them nicely so they learn to explain themselves better. “So and so told me” doesn´t count. They need to learn how to defend their posture using related information and different sources.

Develop Logic: Help them see how things are related to one another. Ask them how they´ve come to such conclusions and prove it. They might say: “If you mix blue with yellow, it makes green.” Instead of simply accepting their affirmation,  encourage them to kindly prove it.

Cultivating empathy: Make them participate in simple problem solving. “We only have one chair for you and your sister. What should we do?”  Analyse their answer and if it tends to be selfish, try getting them to think of the idea of sharing instead. “Wouldn´t it be better to hold her? That way you´ll both be able to sit. If not, she´ll probably become upset.”

PhotoCredits: Ivy Dawned

PhotoCredits: Tim Samoff



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