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How to encourage reflection in children?

Thinking is something natural, human, that differentiates us from other animals. We all think, but do we think well? Do we think adaptively? The capacity for reflection is something that is gradually acquired over the years.

Although children, since they are little, question things and, fortunately, ask countless times from their insatiable curiosity and tender innocence, the truth is that the most conscious reflection of things appears when they are a little older.

And it is important that children develop this ability, because it will allow them to learn, grow, solve problems, understand reality, be more flexible and empathic… and even have fun!

In this article we will talk about what reflection involves, why it is beneficial to do so and how we can encourage this conscious reflection of things in children. How to accompany them on this adventurous journey that involves growing up and questioning the why of things?

What do we mean by reflection?

If we were to summarize it in a few words, we could say that reflecting implies learning to think .

It involves paying attention to things, turning them around , valuing other points of view, seeing reality from another side… we find a thousand ways of understanding this ability, which is quite innate in human beings.

But of course, “thinking” or “reflecting” is not the same as doing it consciously.

What benefits children to reflect?

Reflect allows children…

  • Get to know themselves better.
  • Develop critical thinking .
  • Expand your gaze, your mind, be more open, flexible and tolerant.
  • Understand what limits to set, by improving your self-knowledge.
  • Solve problems, learn, grow.

How to encourage reflection in children?

Now that we have a little more clarity about what reflection involves, and why it is good to enhance this skill, useful at school, in daily life , with family and friends, etc., we are going to see how we can help our children to that they reflect with conscience and sense:

Ask questions

Questions feed children’s curiosity and knowledge. Therefore, when encouraging reflection in children, it is important that we ask them questions about things that happen to them, about what they see, about the environment…

Ideally, open questions, which provide the possibility of obtaining more information in the answer.

And in turn, it is important that we encourage children to question things themselves , to ask themselves. Don’t take anything for granted from the start.

  • Examples of questions we can ask:

The list of questions is endless and, in fact, each person or family will adapt it to their liking or to the characteristics of their children , but here are some ideas that can help you in different situations:

  • If you point to an object (or we point to it): “why do you think this works?”, “what’s it for?”
  • When you state something: “why do you think this is true?” , “can you prove that this is so?”, “how?”
  • When you explain something: “what would have happened if you had acted differently”?

And above all, let’s not forget at this point that it is not about questioning things , but about promoting dialogue and opening a space for debate and communication. Always focusing it as a game or learning.

Stimulate critical thinking

When we reflect, we turn something over in order to understand it more deeply; we analyze reality, we go a step back, we look for the causes of things, their meaning…

It is the previous step of critical thinking, that ability to analyze and evaluate, precisely, these reasonings. Therefore, to develop reflection, it is also important to stimulate critical thinking, its “twin brother” .

How can we do it? Encouraging our son to find his own point of view of things, through knowing, investigating, listening to others…

Boost your confidence

So that children can reflect on their reality, or on the things that happen to them, it is also important that they feel capable, valid, important. That is, they have a good self-confidence to do it.

To achieve this, we can choose to reinforce their self-concept, the vision they have of themselves and their self-esteem. That we recognize their achievements , everything they are good at or what they strive for. And that we encourage them to keep trying if it doesn’t work out the first time.

Offer spaces for reflection or debate

We can also offer them small spaces for debate that stimulate this reflection. This can be approached as a family game ; For example, “Today we are going to talk about the funniest sports.” “What’s yours? Why? What sports would you never do?”

Or we can talk about the funniest games. We can use any topic of interest to the child, adapted to their age.

promote creativity

Creativity, although it may not seem so a priori , is another skill that is closely linked to reflection. Children who are creative expand their minds, their ideas, their points of view. And from that opening it is easier to reflect.

And vice versa! Reflection can also stimulate creativity, because it is also a capacity that allows us to create new perspectives, that allows us to “go beyond” . That is why they are so closely related concepts, and if we feed one, we also feed the other.

How to stimulate creativity? Some ideas that may help you:

  • Provide stimuli and new challenges every day .
  • Encourage curiosity to learn (for example, through the questions already mentioned).
  • Ask him sometimes, when he does things, “and why is this?” (not as a questioning, but as a way to create a space for communication).
  • Using resources and fun activities, such as: crafts, games to create stories, etc.

Respect authenticity

It is also important to respect the authenticity of children: they have every right in the world to be themselves . And this knowledge will also help them to develop critical thinking about things, and to understand that they have the right to have a different opinion.

That is why the reinforcement of self-esteem already mentioned is so important, so that they feel free and capable of thinking differently; and one means to achieve this is reflection.

“The authentic being is the soul made visible.”

-Sarah Ban Breathnach-

Photos | Cover (freepik), Image 1 (freepik), Image 2 (pexels)

Babies and more | The development of logic in children: how it evolves and what activities and games we can do to encourage it, Cognitive development in children: the stage of formal operations from 11 years onwards

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