Teaching Boys Critical Thinking Skills
by Rick Johnson
November 19th, 2015

Perhaps one of the most important things a person can develop is the ability to think through an issue and discern the important aspects of that issue while not be distracted by the parts that are of no consequence.

Your son needs to learn to distinguish between fact and opinion. He needs to understand how to compare and contrast information. Too often important issues are clouded by emotions or hyperbole.

In addition, with today’s technology it is easy to establish something on the Internet that quickly becomes assumed as fact. As an example, books, magazines, or newspapers printing “facts” that are not backed up by well-rounded research and cited are really just printing their opinion. Television news programs are notorious for this today.

If you want your son to be someone who is not easily swayed by political agendas, misinformation, or opinions, he needs to develop good critical thinking skills.

How do you help a boy develop critical thinking skills, which are crucial for him to learn in order to develop into a good problem solver? First, as difficult as it may be, allow your son to argue or debate issues that do not relate to emergency circumstances. He is developing the process to understand how to look at an issue critically from different sides.

You’ll notice that sometimes he may even switch his opinion in the middle of an argument if you agree with him and argue the other side. Also, while it may be annoying, allow him to ask a lot of questions. That shows he has an active mind and is searching for information and knowledge (or else he’s just being a pain).

Encourage him to think logically. Use concrete examples whenever possible that lead to logical conclusions. For instance, someone may be able to effectively argue against the validity of gravity, but they will still fall on their head if they jump off a building. Logic takes the emotion out of an argument.

Also, allow him to think through an issue or problem—do not rush in and give him the answer right away. It takes the male brain longer to process information than it does the female brain.

Think out loud in front of him—that way he can see and hear how you puzzle through the process of solving a problem. Finally, challenge him to always look at both sides of an issue. Encourage him to research an issue from a variety of reputable sources—both pro and con.

If you only get one opinion of a subject you cannot truly understand it. One of the great lessons I have learned in life is that you cannot understand another’s pain if you have not walked in their shoes. This will serve him well later in life when he has a wife and children and issues are seldom simply black and white but are complicated shades of gray


Rick Johnson is the founder of Better Dads. His passion for families has expanded his work to include influencing the whole family with life-changing insights on parenting, relationships, and personal growth. Rick is the best-selling author of 11 books on parenting, marriage, and masculinity. He is a popular keynote speaker at men’s and women’s conferences and retreats. 

More of Rick Johnson: www.betterdads.net