Speaking To Your Child: To Command or To Reason?

Posted on Dec 22, 2020 by No Comments

Teaching your child how to make decisions is basically an art, in my opinion. How do you instill an ability to weigh options and think through consequences?

A recent study in the Maternal and Child Health Journal found that reasoning with your child, even at an early age, helps to stimulate brain development which may lead to better decision making skills.

Apparently, the study, which was quoted in a recent Newsweek article, found that children (specifically Latino children, though I don’t know why that group was targeted) whose parents used commands over reasoning lagged behind in basic language and thinking skills than their white counterparts by the time the child was 2-3 years old. And this occurred across socio-economic backgrounds.

We’re talking simple commands like “that won’t work, this will” vs. “you don’t throw, you could hurt someone.” Sounds reasonable to me - speaking to a child in a manner in which you’d like them to think when they are adults would lead to thinking skills. But there are drawbacks that I see.

In my mind, the “reasoning” statement sounds a little more like a command with consequences attached than out and out reasoning. I mean, if you were truly reasoning, wouldn’t you say something like, “is it nice to throw? You may hurt someone and how would that feel?”

That said, I’m a fan of directing my child over telling her what to do. In general. I mean, if I can offer her good, acceptable choices (reasoning with her) rather than telling her exactly what to do, then I’m going to try to do that.

But, there are times…you know what I’m talking about. When you’re met with that blank stare that says, “I’m ignoring you and you can’t do anything about it” look. Love that.

Also, does reasoning lead to a “lawyer” in the making, allowing a child enough rope to hone his debating skills so that you are constantly in a power struggle? I know, that’s taking this study a little far, but I do think about these things as I try to maintain a balance between teaching my daughter to think and teaching her the “rules” of our house. Those two things often conflict with each other.

photo credit: pulihora

Posted in: Parenting

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