Critical thinking skills are the ability to imagine, analyze, and evaluate information in order to determine its integrity and validity, such as what is factual and what isn’t.

Here’s how to help your child hone these skills as they grow;

Trust the Process: Take a back seat and trust children to find ways through their problems. Whenever they have to think for themselves, a new connection is formed in the brain. The more times they get to experience a problem, try out solutions, and solve it, the more efficient those pathways become.

Encourage Extracurricular Clubs: Joining a Science or debating club is a good way to develop your child’s critical thinking skills and put them into practice with other children of a similar age.

Don’t Offer a Solution: The answers to your child’s struggle may seem easy for you. Obviously, you’ve been around longer, have more experience, and can easily come up with answers to your child’s problems, right? The thing is, your child is just as capable as you are – so give them room to do that.

Don’t Micromanage: Hanging around your children all the time, ready to jump in and help, or show them the “right” way to do something stifles any chance they might have to develop pathways in the brain by thinking problems through for themselves.

Encourage Agreement & Disagreement: Being able to say whether they agree or disagree with something, and why, is a sign that your child is thinking critically. Ask them whether something is right or wrong, true or false, okay or not okay: simply put, have them take a position, evaluate and, if necessary, eliminate.

Encourage Questions: Get children to think through their choices and actions related to the problem by asking them questions about what’s happening.

Don’t Lecture: Children tune out long explanations for why they need to do things, why their methods won’t work, or why your explanation is true. You might be right, but speeches don’t do anything for your child’s brain development. Show them how to solve problems without lecturing them – keep it short.