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Parenting Tip

February 20, 2015

Understanding Level 2 Thinking

The development of the conscience helps children live on two levels of thinking at the same time. Life isn’t only about playing with a toy, eating food, or taking care of oneself. When teaching responsibility, every activity has a second dimension. Children learn to watch the clock, monitor their own fairness, and think about how their current action affects others. We call that level two thinking. Unfortunately, some children just live on level one. They think only about the task at hand, and rely too heavily on parents to manage level two.

Parents are continually living with level two thinking and actually become the conscience for their kids. They tell children what time it is, make sure they have their homework in their backpacks, and are quick to point out meanness. But if you want your child to develop internal motivation then you might want to adjust your parenting. Instead of constantly telling your child to do the daily things of life, you might want to have your child rely on other cues, such as the clock, a to do list, or an alarm.

Once you’ve identified a cue, then the way you keep things moving in the mornings or during the day is different. You use words that focus on the cue, raising awareness in the child to pay attention to level two thinking. “Watch your time,” “Bring me your to do list,” “What’s next on your list?” These kinds of statements become common sayings and begin to develop the internal dialogue in your child’s heart. You have just started the process of adjusting your parenting to focus on building internal motivation in your child.

For more ideas on developing internal motivation in kids, and helping them choose to do what’s right for the right reason, consider our newest book Motivate Your Child, A Christian Parent’s Guide to Raising Kids Who Do What They Need to Do Without Being Told by Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN.

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