As a parent, you want your child to excel in all they do. This means they need healthy bodies — and minds. How can you encourage positive cognitive reasoning ability in your children? There are several ways. By providing the correct mix of physical and mental activities, you stimulate young minds. Broadening their horizons by introducing them to new social experiences completes the process.
What Is Cognitive-Reasoning Ability? Why Does It Matter?
The term “cognitive reasoning” refers to the process by which people process information to make a decision or draw a conclusion. Two types of cognitive reasoning exist — inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. Inductive reasoning occurs when your child forms general conclusions based upon a meticulous examination of specific facts. Deductive reasoning allows children to use general principles or ideals to form conclusions. Both types of thinking prove critical later in life when children enter school and eventually, the workplace. Cognitive reasoning matters because, without it, children blindly parrot what they hear and imitate what they see. They cannot discern, for example, which behaviors are appropriate in a given situation and which are not. This impairs not only their academic progress, but also their social relationships. Poor cognitive reasoning skills can give rise to mental health disorders if children feel insecure about their ability to solve problems. This lack of confidence creates significant anxiety.
The Stages of Child Cognitive Development
As your child develops, they progress through four stages of cognitive development:
- Sensorimotor stage: This stage occurs up to age 2. During this time, babies learn about the world through what they see, hear and touch.
- Preoperational stage: This takes place between the ages of 2-7. During this stage, a child’s imagination and creativity develop. They also begin forming permanent attitudes — for example, children start establishing many of their viewpoints about money during this stage.
- Concrete operational stage: During this stage, which occurs between ages 7-11, children learn awareness of events outside themselves. They also develop emotional intelligence and the ability to recognize the feelings of others.
- Formal operational stage: Finally, from the age of 12 through adulthood, children begin using logic to solve problems and plan for their futures.
The stage of your child’s development partially determines the best activities for boosting their cognitive power. Some prove beneficial for children of all ages, while others depend more on their existing mental abilities. For example, unstructured playtime flexes critical thinking muscles as well as gets all young bodies moving.
Ways You Can Boost Your Child’s Cognitive Reasoning Ability
When your babies remain in the sensorimotor stage of development, providing ample toys with a variety of colors and textures helps bolster learning. For example, stacking toys with brightly colored rings encourage older infants to fit things together. Blocks help them learn to stack — and to knock things down. Give your child ample opportunity for sensory experiences. Create a safe, carpeted space where infants can roll and crawl. Provide them with plush toys with a variety of textures to invite touching. Read to your infant and play music like “Baby Shark” to engage her hearing and choose lively hued picture books to activate young eyes. As your children age, you can add activities based upon their stage of development. Engage in the following pursuits during the preoperational phase.
- Practice signing the alphabet: As students prepare for kindergarten, many parents teach them their ABCs. Doing so, especially when paired with an activity like reading books like “A is for Aardvark,” boosts brain function.
- Practice counting together: When you’re driving, ask your child to count the number of red cars or big trucks they spot.
- Offer children choices: For example, ask, “Would you like to wear the green shirt or the yellow shirt today?” or, “Would you like an apple or a piece of string cheese for snack time?”
When your children reach the concrete operational stage, it’s time to challenge their thinking a little bit more.
- Encourage friendships with a diverse group: When you look at a picture of your child with their friends, hopefully, it resembles a rainbow more than a monochromatic canvas. Take your kids to the playground and encourage them to play with everyone — including the child with facial characteristics indicative of Down syndrome. This teaches inclusivity as well as opens young eyes to different ways of viewing the world.
- Take them to the museum or planetarium: Kids this age thrive on field trips, but you can get in on the fun, too. Every other weekend, plan a fun excursion to a destination your child hasn’t visited before. Such environments stimulate your child’s innate curiosity and often provide hands-on opportunities for learning.
- Play games together: Family game night does more than teach good sportsmanship. It also helps children learn to make decisions. For example, they may wrestle with whether or not to spend their last $400 in Monopoly money buying Boardwalk.
As children enter the formal operational stage, they’re also readying themselves to spread their wings. Foster logical decision-making skills by doing the following.
- Involve them in planning family events: When you’re planning the family vacation, for example, give older children a rough idea of your budget. Ask where they’d like to go and why. Get them involved with tasks like ordering event tickets and locating suitable lodging.
- Tie financial rewards to work instead of giving an allowance: Preteens and teens learn the value of money as well as saving when you offer $20 for mowing the lawn or $5 for washing the dinner dishes versus giving them a weekly allowance simply for existing. They learn financial planning as well as calculate the number of chores they will need to perform and the length of time it will take to save for a specific goal.
- Let them make mistakes and learn from them: The best time to make mistakes is before leaving the nest. If your budget permits, get older children a credit card of their own. Advise them on how to manage debt. However, if they get in over their heads, help them figure out a way to pay it down themselves versus bailing them out. This will help them avoid amassing tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt as adults.
Raising Children With Strong Cognitive Reasoning Skills
When you raise your children with strong cognitive reasoning skills, they perform better later in school and throughout life. By exposing your children to age-appropriate activities, you can boost their brainpower.