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Teaching by Example is Not Enough

Young people are natural mimics. They observe adults and believe them to be experts on how to navigate the world. Adults realize that this perception is false. Many day-to-day decisions are made based on the adult's "best guess" in unfamiliar circumstances. Kids don't see the internal doubt or thought processes that occur in the adult's mind.

Teaching young people to think for themselves involves more than just demonstrating the correct actions. Adults who translate their own internal thought processes into words for youth as they make decisions throughout the day can provide young people with valuable life skills.

Sharing one's thought process can be risky, especially if the adult is not sure of the reasons for their own decisions. Adolescents are experts in picking up on inauthentic behavior.

Teaching youth how to think rather than what to think requires adults tolerate questioning of their own decisions. The goal of teaching youth to make responsible, rational decisions in their own life can be worth the temporary discomfort of having one's authority questioned.

Today, I will be aware of my choices when I am around young people. I accept responsibility for teaching the children in my life how to think, rather than what to think.

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