Thinking hats to teach your child how to think

Can We Teach Children How To Think?

Newsletter Aug 9, 2022

Thinking, in simple terms, can be defined as the process of considering or reasoning about something.

As parents, we instinctively reach out to help our children when they struggle. We often try to fix the problem ourselves. While rescuing our kids, we provide them with a quick fix denying them opportunities to practice important ‘thinking’ skills that they will need later on in life.

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In his book, “Teach Your Child How to Think” author Edward de Bono encourages parents to teach their kids to apply different “thinking hats.”

The Thinking Hats


The Black Thinking Hat

This is the risk assessment hat that exercises caution & judgement which will help your child stay safe.

This hat puts forth questions like ‘Is it true?’, ‘Will it work?’, ‘Why will it not work?’ etc. For example, you can allow your child to jump from the couch onto the rug and see if he can fly.  This approach allows children to focus on evidence and draw conclusions.


The Yellow Thinking Hat

The yellow hat represents optimism and hope by evaluating benefits & advantages.

While wearing this hat you may say things like, ‘What are the good points?’, ’What are the benefits?’, ‘Why will this idea work?’ etc. your child may have to choose between sports and music classes both of which happen at the same time. You can guide your child using these questions to come to a decision.


The Green Thinking Hat

The green hat symbolizes new ideas, concepts and approaches to a problem.

Your child may have to complete a project for school. Instead of taking up the project or instantly directing your child; ask your child these questions, ‘What are some possible ways to work this out?’, ‘What are other ways to solve the problem?’ You will be surprised at the level of creativity children come up with when stimulated.


The White Hat

The white hat is neutral and focuses on thinking about facts and figures.

It removes one’s own opinion and emphasizes on what we know for sure. White hats are essential while reading stories and solving math puzzles. Some questions for white hat thinking are ‘What information or facts do we know?’, ‘What information is missing?’, ‘How are we going to get the information?’, ‘What is relevant?’ etc.


The Blue Hat

The blue hat controls the thinking process by bringing in discipline and focus. 

While reading and solving math problems, the use of the white hat and blue hat can play a role in organizing the problem into manageable sections. You can ask your child questions like, ‘What decision have we reached?’, ‘What do we do next?’


The Red Hat

This hat influences thinking with feelings, hunches & intuition.

When reading with your child, stop them to ask how they think the character might be feeling or ask them to think about how they would feel in that situation– this will help with your child understand and comprehend what is taking place within the story. Some common questions are, ‘How do I feel about this right now?’, ‘How am I reacting to this?’

Related – How Important Is Emotional Quotient For Your Child’s Success

Good thinkers are those who use all six hats. For intelligence to be fully used, children need to develop their thinking skills. Moreover, thinking is a habit. Children need regular opportunity to explore and use all thinking hats to approach tasks from a range of angles that will enable them to make wise decisions, more often than not!

Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
– Margaret Mead



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