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Parenting Ethics - Teaching Children to Reason

Updated: Mar 30, 2021

One of the most difficult skills for adults to learn is critical thinking. It is evident that we save the best for last when it comes to honing reasoning skills in human social development. Young adults lucky enough to receive university education, are often challenged with critical thinking questions. Top students meet these expectations with flying colours, however, not all students are masters of this form of intellect. Why does this one aspect of mind separate the wheat from the chaff of intellectual hierarchy?

Critical thinking is defined as the objective analysis, and evaluation of a problem in order to form a judgment. This skill has two characteristics, the first includes possessing non-domain specific knowledge. This is understood as maintaining objectivity. Being objective when critical thinking means we hold a neutral position when understanding perspectives, in other words, we remain emotionally cool, calm, and collected, and refrain from becoming agitated regarding other perspectives. Being objective also means that we see things as they are, rather than from a personally biased point of view. We are poised from a position of self-awareness, we understand our mental process, and develop foresight, or ability to think ahead. We actively listen when we are spoken to, this means we recognize the emotional attachment of individual experience, and acknowledge feelings with our speech. We ask questions to get clarity, and evaluate the evidence we have gathered before making a judgement. As we can interpret, there is a lot of fundamental preparation required to prepare for critical thinking, all of which requires a stable environment from childhood to adulthood in which to develop these talents.

Although a person may lack a stable background, and be disadvantaged cognitively when it comes to solving problems, it is possible that an individual through the use of argument could think critically, provided they have acquired domain specific knowledge. Critical thinking here is developed along with domain specific knowledge for the sake of argument, comparison, and analysis.

The wheat from the chaff is separated academically before middle school. Kids with issues are kids with trauma. Trauma affects the prefrontal cortex, which plays a role in critical thinking, empathy, problem solving, and awareness. Traumatic events cause the prefrontal cortex to shut down due to stress hormones that are released. This is not specific to adults. Children experience this, and children are not commonly diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD), but with disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). It's interesting to note that children are not typically diagnosed with personality disorders, or stress related disorders until adulthood, a plausible reason is that symptoms of personality disorders tend to surface around the age of adolescence. Teenagers aren't typically routinely seen by their doctors, as they don't communicate mental health related issues, as parents are responsible to relay this information.

It is fundamentally very important to teach our children to think critically. Some ways to begin this process with children is to provide opportunities for play that support healthy social environments. This playtime for kids should be social with other children as much as it is quality family time with parents. Playtime should include pauses to reflect on what is happening, for the purpose of encouraging curiosity, and to encourage the thinking process. Asking open-ended questions that start with what, or why gives children the opportunity to explain, and allows them to expand on their thinking as it assists with the development of hypothesis. Encourage critical thinking with open conversations, where children are able to express what they think, and feel without judgment from an adult. This assists with their ability to reason, or think deeper about an issue.

Possessing the ability to reason means one internalizes, learns, interprets, and comes to conclusion about events. The route this mental process takes creates diversion from operating instinctually. Reasoning ability promotes disposition to rationalize, and analyze in situations. When we teach children this, we teach them to protect themselves, this is the initial stages of encouraging children to listen to their intuition. This is necessary for a child's development both cognitively, and spiritually. Just as parenting can be a reactionary response to the task at hand, good parenting isn't reactionary, it's intentional. Be all you can be, and teach your children to be the same. Seek Bindu - the point of creation, and all will be added unto you.


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