1. Encourage decision-making. The groundwork for thinking independently is the ability to make choices. Start with small choices, such as which book to read. Of course, it’s important to structure the choices so that all options are acceptable to you.
2. Share your opinions. Model independent thinking by sharing your own thoughts.
3. Discuss favorites. Encourage your child to share his thoughts about the things that are his “favorite.” Discuss everything from his favorite songs and books to places to visit.
4. Celebrate all answers. Your child’s opinions are personal. It’s essential to accept his opinions without bias.
5. Be a good listener. Perhaps the best way to encourage your child to think and speak for himself is to show you care by really listening.
6. Give specific praise. Reinforce independent thinking by praising your child’s thoughts.
7. Acknowledge honesty. Encourage your child to say what he really thinks, not just what he thinks you expect to hear. Do this by asking him what he thinks!