Cleaning the study table, doing laundry and doing homework – 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. A child must learn and master many skills and techniques before he leaves home for their higher studies. Children who develop critical independent thinking skills can be very successful in their life.
Here are 5 steps to help your child become an independent thinker.
1. Give Limited Choices
As far as possible, give limited choices for your child. When your child has limited choices in front of him, he will try to achieve excellence in the tasks he wants to perform. Ensure that you respect your child’s preferences.
Example: Your child wants to dress up for his enrichment class. You may ask your child this simple question – “The blue T-shirt is that side drawer and the grey one is in the cupboard. Pick the one that you like”.
Here, your child will try to assess the merit of your question and decide on his own answers after thinking over it for some time.
2. Encourage Proactive Behaviour During Time of Adversity
First, ask the child to identify a problem. Maybe he isn’t making friends in his new school. Maybe he failed to make the table tennis team. Ask the child to make a list of things he could do to improve the situation. Ask him to list everything he can think of, from the outlandish to the conservative. If he has trouble generating ideas at first, feel free to help him. Make it playful. Once you have a considerable list, ask the child to pick a few things from the list which he is willing to do to help his situation. Give the child credit for performing the behaviour (not the outcome). Some of his initiatives will be successful, others won’t. He will learn two things from this: he can do things to impact his world for the better, and if his initiatives don’t bring the desired result, he can try something else. He will also discover that it feels good to take action.
3. Set Personal Goals
One way for a child to learn that he can positively impact his life is to set goals and then work to attain those goals. Have the child identify a few goals. On a note card, help him identify steps he can take toward achievement of his goal. When the child accomplishes a step, check it off the list. This way the child can visualize the progress he is making towards his goal. When the child faces an unanticipated obstacle, use another note card and devote it to overcoming the obstacle.
4. Practice Helping Others
Get your child involved in a volunteer activity in which he helps others. Helping others is proactive; it is doing something to improve the world. Not only are altruistic acts empowering, but they also bolster self-esteem and give one a sense of connectedness to the larger world.
5. Challenge Negative Thinking
Negative thinking undermines motivation and initiative; it promotes a sense of hopelessness and, in effect, helplessness. When your child is confronted with a new situation, does he look forward to new experiences or does he believe it will be disappointing? Look for the absolutes in your child’s speech, words like “always,” “never,” “everyone,” and “no one”.
For example, a child going to a new school might say “I’ll never make friends. Everyone already has friends.”
When you hear statements like this, be sure to challenge them. A counterargument to the above statement might go something like this, rephrased appropriately for the child:
It is true it will take time to make friends at a new school. But even if most kids have friends, it doesn’t mean they are not open to making new friends. Also, it is unlikely that everyone has friends as you say. There are probably some kids who don’t have many friends and would love to make a new friend. Furthermore, you have always had at least one friend since you were little. Based on your history, I think it is highly unlikely that you will never make another friend.
As your child gets older, encourage him to come up with his own counterarguments for negative thinking.
For over 15 years, Augustine’s English Classes has helped hundreds of students fall in love with the subject and excelling in school exams. If you are interested to know how our classes work, or what our secret winning formula is, do feel free to drop us a message or give us a call.
Augustine’s English Classes
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