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Common sense is more than just something you are born with – it is a skill that can be increased over time. A concern for many parents is how to increase their child’s common sense and try to ensure their safety.
To teach your child common sense, allow them to try new things and make choices on their own. This includes learning to reflect and be more aware of their surroundings. Even if they fail, they will be learning. Common sense may be intuitive to some degree, but it is also something that can be taught as you grow.
Life Experiences Build Common Sense
At its core, common sense comes from applying your previous knowledge and experiences to help you determine how a situation might play out. For some people, this is a very natural part of their personalities. Others have to work a bit harder at it, and that’s okay!
It is a natural instinct for parents to want to take care of their children. Part of that involves warning them against trying something that might have a bad result. This involves you using your own past experiences to help your child. However, sometimes it is best to sit back and let your child make their own decisions so that they can gain a learning experience that will help them in the future. Obviously, there is a line drawn if your child is about to do something that would hurt themselves or another person. Anything serious should be left to your own judgement. However, if your child is trying something new that is relatively harmless, the best solution can be to let the situation play out so that it can be a good learning experience.
For example, maybe you see your child reaching up to try out a new snack at a gathering. You know from experience that your child does not enjoy spicy/salty/saucy food and so will not enjoy this new snack. Instead of warning them, consider letting them try the snack and realize that eating things they are unfamiliar with might be a bad idea. If your child is younger, they may attempt to eat some grass or a flower, which is very common in toddlers. Again, instead of taking it away, allow them to try it and realize on their own that it’s not an experience they want to repeat.
Those are some relatively benign examples. It can be hard to allow your child to try something out when you know it’s going to go sideways, but common sense cannot develop if they never learn from past experiences.
Decision Making Increases Confidence
Another good tactic to build up common sense from an early age is letting your child make some of their own decisions on relatively simple things. This could include something like what to have for breakfast or what shoes to wear for the day. They don’t even need to come up with something out of the blue! You could offer some options, such as: “Should we have pancakes or cereal for breakfast today?” This allows them to practice their decision making skills and become more confident handling several different options.
It is important that children get used to making decisions on their own, even if it is concerning simple tasks. If there is ever a time when they need to make a quick decision on their own, it is important that they are confident in their abilities and not overcome by indecisiveness. Learning to make choices for themselves is a critical aspect of developing independence. This can go beyond just choosing what to eat for breakfast.
Parents need to prepare their children for various scenarios just so they know what to do if anything goes wrong. Try walking your child through hypothetical situations to practice their decision making at a critical time. For example, you might ask your child what they think the best course of action is if the two of you are ever separated at a mall or crowded event. Guide them through their thought process and the various decisions they are facing. This can help to prepare them for such an occurrence without exposing them to danger or worry. If such an event ever does happen, they will be prepared.
Reflection Teaches Understanding
We all learn that actions have consequences. It’s valuable for kids to learn this lesson as early as possible. It helps them develop empathy and understanding of new situations. It is natural for children to test boundaries, even if the result is getting put in time-out or getting a toy taken away. Explain to your child the consequences of an action they are about to take – leaving their toys on the floor after they’ve been told to pick them up will result in some toys being taken away. If they continue, follow through on the consequence you’ve laid out. This can also be done with good consequences, like earning a treat if they help clean up after dinner.
These actions may seem simple, but teaching kids how to reflect on their actions and anticipate consequences is a huge factor in developing common sense. These actions go hand in hand with trying new things and making their own decisions. Even if those decisions have a bad outcome, your child will learn to reflect and anticipate consequences – and hopefully avoid any more bad outcomes.
How Do you Raise a Child’s Common Sense?
Building up common sense will take time. As your child grows, they will naturally learn and mature from their experiences. Allowing them to try new things and make their own decisions at a young age can be scary, but it helps them to learn about the world around them. It’s best for them to learn these skills early with your guidance than alone at a later age. Reflecting on consequences can be a hard thing for most adults, so be patient and work together as you teach your child about the world. Common sense will come, and they will be safer as a result.
Here at Vidar Australia, we are all about living out best. We try and answer questions that are just not answered elsewhere on the web. Check out some of our other articles like ‘How many days a week should I walk?’ or The 7 Benefits of Decluttering You Won’t Want to Miss