Parenting Books

Deck: With modern technology making it a little too easy for kids to skate by on homework, these parenting books can help ensure that your kids learn valuable critical thinking skills for the real world.

From virtual assistants to the phones in our pockets, today’s technological bits and bobs have been lifesavers for many of us.

But what happens when our kids start relying on the same technology to get around learning lessons for themselves? Today, they might just be asking for help on simple math, but when a tech tool turns into a crutch, it may keep kids from learning how to puzzle out complex issues on their own.

In a world where kids can ask Alexa anything, how do we teach them to think critically and solve problems creatively? Thankfully, there are plenty of parenting and development experts who can help us get our kids’ mental cogs turning.

Top Books on Teaching Problem-Solving

For any parents hoping to raise top-notch critical thinkers, these are the resources for you:

1. Problem Solving 101 by Ken Watanabe

Billed as a four-step plan for analyzing and overcoming any challenge, this book from Delta Studio founder and CEO Ken Watanabe might look to American audiences like the scientific method. Watanabe’s formulaic approach is based on a standard learning template taught to Japanese schoolchildren from a very young age, and it addresses how working within an established framework can aid in problem-solving success. By combining school-age approaches with more complex methods he learned as a consultant for McKinsey, Watanabe outlines a system that will work for problem solvers of any age.

2. How to Raise a Founder With Heart by Jim Marggraff

Author Jim Marggraff is much more than a serial entrepreneur — he also raised his children to become successful entrepreneurs in their own right. Marggraff defines a founder as “anyone who sees a problem, recognizes his or her potential to do something about it, and takes the necessary steps to create a solution.” As such, he developed a philosophy that encourages children to solve problems as a gateway to realizing their passions in life — a goal that any good parent would love his or her children to embrace.

3. Becoming Brilliant by Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

It’s ironic to hear a pair of university professors contend that knowledge isn’t everything, but that’s just what Roberta Michnick Golinkoff and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek argue in their 2016 bestseller. While today’s knowledge-focused approach places content above play, this book reverses the model and encourages kids to engage in “free play” with minimal adult intervention. Because undirected play leads to imagination and straying from established paths, this approach allows kids to develop their own problem-solving methods instead of trying to force a one-size-fits-all methodology on a developing mind. As Golinkoff puts it, “Play is really the crucible for developing these skills because in play kids don’t have to stick with the program.”

4. Teaching Kids to Think by Darlene Sweetland and Ron Stolberg

In their book on parenting young kids, clinical psychologists Darlene Sweetland and Ron Stolberg seek to avoid the negative path the Instant Gratification Generation all too often treads. Believing that today’s youngsters face unique social and emotional roadblocks, the authors contend that technology prevents children from learning that not every problem has an easy solution. Their book outlines the main parental traps that might put kids on the road to overdependence. Sweetland and Stolberg provide more than just solutions — they also offer context that helps parents understand the roots of their children’s problem-solving difficulties.

5. Raising Human Beings by Ross Greene

As an accomplished child psychologist, Ross Greene is an expert on the parent-child relationship. In his book, Greene focuses on how to walk the tightrope between guiding a child’s development and encouraging independence. Through communication and collaboration, parent and child can be problem-solving partners rather than combatants throughout the child’s adolescence. Greene employs a model he’s crafted over years of real work with parents and kids to help collectively navigate curfews, screen time, and other struggles in a way that forges strong, healthy bonds within a family.

Helping your children grow into capable, independent adults is no easy feat. The road can seem paved with missed opportunities and unintended lessons, some of them taught by the technology that surrounds families on all sides. With guidance from these books, however, any parent can put his or her own strategic thinking skills to work in raising children who are ready for the problems they will inevitably encounter along their path.

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