The 80:20 Rule! If we want our children to think flexibly, think for themselves, and ultimately work our way out of our parenting job within 18 years, it is critical that they learn to answer their own questions and find their own answers. The 80:20 Rule is a general guide to describe how often we should ask questions versus giving answers. Most of the time (80% or so when they are young) our parenting should involve questions and less time (20%) providing answers. It is essential to flexible thinking that a child use his/her own brain to come up with answers instead of using ours. As a child gets older and wiser the questioning percentage should increase and answers all but cease. One of the ways we can look at our role as parents is that our job is to nurture neurons. When we think flexibly and encourage it in our kids, our brain neurons stretch their dendrites and improve electrical and chemical impulses from one neuron to another – this is what it means to be smart! Lengthy, healthy, and active neurons makes us intelligent and capable citizens.
The old adage of teaching a man to fish instead of feeding him the fish applies to this habit. When we question our children they are forced to think flexibly and consider various options and points of view. When necessary, provide 2-3 good answers and let them choose for themselves. Thinking flexibly forces neurons to stretch to other neurons and in doing so, creativity and intelligence improves.
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” -Kenny Rogers
Resilient Kids: Promoting Flexible Thinking
Flexible Thinking: How to Encourage Kids to Go With the Flow