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How to help your child think critically – Parenting Guide

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Critical thinking plays an important role in the development of a child. Critical thinking permits kids to view the world on their own terms and analyse and gain a deeper understanding of it. 

A child who can think critically tends to be observant and open-minded and has the capability to judge things on his own terms. 

Critical thinking must be instilled in the child between the ages of 5 to 9. Although at this age they cannot get into complicated reasoning, the foundation must be built at this age. 

Building critical thinking takes place throughout the day, in our day-to-day interactions with the child, through play, facing unplanned situations etc. To build the foundation for critical thinking in your child, the following tips can be followed:-

Provide opportunities to play

Playing develops a sense of thinking, responsibility to the child. Playing involves rules and regulations which are to be followed to stay in the game or else you have to quit from the game. This helps to develop critical thinking in a child. 

Both indoor and outdoor games are beneficial to the child. Indoor games like chess, blocks, playing boards with friends involve thinking, which can develop critical reasoning in the child. 

Playing outdoor games with friends also involves thinking and understanding the norms of the play. Playing also helps to make the child disciplined and makes him aware of his surroundings. 

Provide ample time to your child to think

Granting ample time to think, making him attempt a task or asking for a response is very crucial. This gives the child to think on his own, to reflect on his responses and even refine rather than answering on their very first reaction. 

Allowing a child to answer on his own enables him to recollect his own experiences, his own understanding which helps him to think more critically. 

Do not intervene immediately

Kids need to face challenges. These unprecedented situations will make him gather experience from which he will learn and can analyse it critically. Just wait and watch. Let them solve it on their own. 

Ask open-ended questions

Try not to give answers to the child whenever he raises some questions. Help them think critically by asking questions rather than giving answers. 

Ask them questions like “What do you think of it”, or ” What do you think could have happened?” Such questions help the child think over the situation and make him think more critically. Respect their responses whether it is correct or not. 

Encourage the child to form a hypothesis

Encourage the child to form hypotheses during play, which aids in critical thinking. Ask him questions like ” What do you think, should we do this? ” or ” Can you predict what is going to happen next in this situation? ” 

Facing such questions will make the child think over the situation and analyse it carefully. This also helps to improve his reasoning power and can build a strong base to think critically. 

Encourage them to think differently

Help them to think differently by teaching them to analyse all the possible ways that could have happened in any given situation. Ask questions like ” What are the other ways of tackling the situation? “, “What would have you done if you were there? ” or “Let’s think of all the possible solutions for this problem?”. 

By trying to solve such questions, the child will try to think critically by placing himself in the given situation, which can sharpen their critical thinking. 

Encourage asking questions

Asking questions about everything and anything is a part of a child’s growing years and is considered the most important developmental milestone. The more the child asks questions, the more he will learn. 

The urge to imagine, analyze and evaluate the information can hone their critical thinking. Encourage the child to think logically and answer logically to their questions. 

They will become more curious to know about the things surrounding them, what is happening around us if they get logical answers from their parents or elders. 

Able to think logically will make the child more capable of making correct decisions, and can also help him to analyse the difference between right and wrong. 

Encourage Reading Books

Reading is the best way a child can connect with the world on his own. The more the child will read the more he will become aware of the situations around him and the ways of coping up with such situations. 

Reading arouses one’s emotions through stories and characters. The more he will read, the more his brain can capture information that will affect his learning process. 

After reading a book, ask the child to analyse the story in his own words or he can also act out the story he read. This will help him to think critically over the matter before acting or analysing the story. 

Give them responsibility

Giving responsibility to a child makes them think how to complete the work given, how to solve the problem. He will think on his own to find out the ways of doing the work given to him. This will necessitate him to think critically. 

Giving them a pet to look after, or to look after his younger sibling can help him to take up responsibilities. Packing the younger siblings bag, or feeding the pet on time can make him aware of his surroundings. 

By carrying out the responsibilities, he can also acquire the confidence of doing any work on his own. 


In today’s world, critical thinking is very necessary because of the rise in the complexities of different situations. To move ahead in the highly competitive and digital-driven market the skill to think critically is very essential. 

The skill needs to be ingrained from childhood by following the tips discussed above. Some situations demand help from the parents.

Learning from parents or elders experiences or observations also allows a better understanding of the situation and helps him to navigate problems in the long run. 

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