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Why is it Important to Develop Critical Thinking in Children?

Every day, children are inundated with images, information, and messages. They need to learn how to weigh or assess the things they see and hear in order to form their own stand and beliefs –whether online, in school, or talking with friends. Critical thinking is the bedrock of education and is a crucial life skill as well. Children who lack the ability for critical thinking will have difficulties academically –especially as they grow and progress to higher levels.

Critical thinking skills are necessary for everyday functioning. They enable us to make good choices, solve problems, and understand the consequences of our actions. Everything from putting puzzles together to planning the quickest way to work uses this highly crucial skill.

To think critically is the method of restraint and focus to resolve issues and set and achieve goals. It makes use of other basic key life functions, such as communicating, forming connections, and perspective taking. Essentially, critical thinking helps us in making sound decisions.

What is Critical Thinking?

It is a cognitive process we use to scrutinize information from our environment and to decide what to believe with reflective skepticism. Put simply, critical thinking is a mental activity that helps us to carefully evaluate things presented to us so that we can make the best decision possible.

As an example, when children in the classroom are required to read a material for a certain topic, they are asked a sequence of questions which allow them to dig deeper for understanding:

1. Who is the author and what is their purpose for writing this piece?

2. What message do they want to get across?

3. How does this information fit into what I already know about this subject?

4. Do I need more data on this subject before I form a conclusion?

5. Can I actually rely on this information?

6. What should I do next –should I read another point of view or should I gather more information?

Critical thinking is the skill to imagine or conceptualize, examine, and assess information in order to ascertain its validity and integrity, such as determining which one is true and which is false. This skill enables us to form ideas and opinions, as well as in identifying good friends from bad.

Amy Morin, LCSW, psychotherapist and author of the best-selling "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do" & "13 Things Mentally Strong Parents Don't Do" says, “Critical thinking also can involve taking a complex problem and developing clear solutions."

It is, hence, fundamental to decision-making, problem-solving, and goal-setting. Moreover, it is the foundation of education, especially when integrated into reading. Children can master information when these two skills are combined.

What are the Elements of Critical Thinking?

Complex mental processes, like critical thinking, are better understood as a combination of numerous basic mental processes, including attention, memory, logic, etc. The elements that various experts describe as vital for critical thinking vary, however. There is overlap, for sure, so here are the mechanisms and elements that most professionals accept:

  • Comprehension (determine or discern meaning)

  • Analysis (identify the points & reasons)

  • Evaluation (analyze the quality or credibility of information)

  • Explanation (present arguments for one's own conclusions)

  • Inference (form logically sound conclusions)

  • Self-regulation (self-correction & self-monitoring)

If you want professional help for your child to cultivate the building blocks in critical thinking, contact JarvisHypnotherapytoday.

Why is Critical Thinking Necessary for Children?

Study reveals that children who lack the ability for critical thinking are more likely to have behavioral problems. Dr. Amanda Pickerill, licensed with the Ohio Department of Education and the Ohio Board of Psychology, explains that if children are not exercising critical thinking, then they're not thinking carefully.

Pickerill adds, "Not thinking carefully [and critically] can lead to information being misconstrued; [and] misconstrued information can lead to problems in school, work, and relationships."

Through critical thinking children can gain a deeper understanding of the world and how they view themselves in it. Kids who develop critical thinking skills also tend to be open-minded and more attentive.

1. Critical thinking stimulates creativity in solving problems

In some studies, teachers believe that students’ achievements are not merely demonstrated in their knowledge of facts or basic skills. All educators agree that learning how to think critically and creatively are important components of education, as well. Going beyond factual knowledge can be achieved by encouraging critical thinking in children. It promotes creativity and enables them to come up with innovative solutions to common everyday problems.

2. Critical thinking develops independence

Control and independence are two other benefits of critical thinking which are supported by research. In other words, inquisitive learners who do not hesitate to challenge the information they get often take the initiative and seek out solutions on their own. This means that before drawing any conclusions, they strive to gather more information, consider the subject more carefully, and hear others out.

As a result, they will become independent as they begin to seek for information on their own instead of simply relying on what the teacher tells them to learn.

3. Critical thinking increases curiosity

Curiosity is the backbone of continuous, independent learning. A child needs to be intrinsically motivated to study on their own –which is always related to curiosity in some way.

Additionally, the nature of critical thinking requires that one examines information by challenging its assumptions and connecting it to the knowledge one already has. It takes focused effort to undertake this very demanding mental activity. Children are unlikely to think deeply about a subject if they lack curiosity or motivation. Develop critical thinking in children to increase their curiosity for knowledge.

A child's curiosity serves as fertile ground for critical thinking. Read related material: Using Curiosity to Encourage Communication Skills

4. Critical thinking prompts metacognition

Metacognition is a mental activity that describes the ability to think about one's own thoughts. It may sound strange, but it really is very simple. It allows us to be aware of our own thought processes. Self-monitoring allows us to measure whether we were able to grasp a concept and how we performed. Metacognition also involves our ability to perceive ourselves as learners or thinkers.

What connection does it have to critical thinking then? Knowing how certain bits of information relate to our prior knowledge is vital for us to be able to challenge and ask questions about it. It also requires self-reflection and exploring new connections between what we already know. Because of this, critical thinking necessitates the use and exercise of metacognition.

5. Critical thinking cultivates resilience

One of the most crucial and useful uses of critical thinking is improved literacy. It makes children more resistant to manipulation, false information, brainwashing, and other risks that lurk online and in person in the form of bullying, peer pressure, etc. Children will be able to analyze situations more effectively and, as a result, make better decisions.

Because resilience generally refers to one's capacity to solve and overcome difficulties, then it can be argued that thinking critically safeguards children in both social and educational contexts as it enhances problem-solving ability.


Therefore, regardless of what your child intends to do professionally in the future, thinking critically, solving problems, and making sound decisions are skills they need to learn. It's absolutely vital that before leaving the nest, your children are capable of independent thinking and have acquired a strong critical mindset.

Doing so will allow them to achieve success in both their academic and professional careers, as well as in their future relationships. Critical thinking can, indeed, change a child's life!

Please make sure to also check out related material on our website: EQ in Teens. We frequently publish insightful articles that explain relationship issues and other difficult subjects. If your child is struggling or if you have a relationship problem with them, JarvisHypnotherapy offers professional help!


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